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Death in Holy Orders (Inspector Adam Dalgliesh Mystery) Paperback – 6 Mar 2014

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Product details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (6 Mar. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571307329
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571307326
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 3.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 60,717 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

P. D. James was born in Oxford in 1920 and educated at Cambridge High School for Girls. From 1949 to 1968 she worked in the National Health Service and subsequently in the Home Office, first in the Police Department and later in the Criminal Policy Department. All that experience has been used in her novels.

She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Royal Society of the Arts and has served as a Governor of the BBC, a member of the Arts Council, where she was Chairman of its Literary Advisory Panel, on the Board of the British Council and as a magistrate in Middlesex and London.

She has won awards for crime writing in Britain, America, Italy and Scandinavia, including the Mystery Writers of America Grandmaster Award. She has received honorary degrees from seven British universities, was awarded an OBE in 1983 and was created a life peer in 1991. In 1997 she was elected President of the Society of Authors.

She lives in London and Oxford and has two daughters, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Despite challenges from Ruth Rendell and (more recently) Minette Walters, PD James' position as Britain's Queen of Crime remains largely unassailed. Although a certain reaction has set in to her reputation (and there are those who claim her poetry-loving copper Dalgleish doesn't correspond to any of his counterparts in the real world), her detractors can scarcely deny her astonishing literary gifts. More than any other writer, she has elevated the detective story into the realms of literature, with the psychology of the characters treated in the most complex and authoritative fashion. Her plots, too, are full of intriguing detail and studded with brilliantly observed character studies. Who cares if Dalgleish belongs more in the pages of a book than poking around a graffiti-scrawled council estate? As a policeman, he is considerably more plausible than Doyle's Holmes, and that's never stopped us loving the Baker Street sleuth. Death in Holy Orders represents something of a challenge from James to her critics, taking on all the contentious elements and rigorously re-invigorating them. She had admitted that she was finding it increasingly difficult to find new plots for Dalgleish, and the locale here (a theological college on a lonely stretch of the East Anglian coast) turns out to be an inspired choice: we're presented with the enclosed setting so beloved of golden age detective writers, and James is able to incorporate her theological interests seamlessly into the plot--but never in any doctrinaire way; the non-believer is never uncomfortable. The body of a student at the college is found on the shore, suffocated by a fall of sand. Dalgleish is called upon to re-examine the verdict of accidental death (which the student's father would not accept). Having visited the College of St Anselm in his boyhood, he finds the investigation has a strong nostalgic aspect for him. But that is soon overtaken by the realisation that he has encountered the most horrific case of his career, and another visitor to the College dies a horrible death. As an exploration of evil--and as a piece of highly distinctive crime writing--this is James at her non-pareil best. Dalgleish, too, is rendered with new dimensions of psychological complexity.

--Barry Forshaw --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"'P.D. James is one of the national treasures of British fiction...Each new book gives pleasure.' Malcolm Bradbury, Mail on Sunday" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Billy J. Hobbs VINE VOICE on 31 Dec. 2003
Format: Paperback
Whether she’s the reigning “Queen of Crime” or not (and she probably doesn’t care!),P.D. James is unbeatable with the police procedural. And her latest, “Death in Holy Orders” is, once again, James par excellence. What scope, what depth, what sheer writing talent when it comes to a gripping, mesmerizing, no-holds-barred whodunit! James brushes aside her critics and continues writing in the way she knows best, unassuming and
literate, psychological and breath-taking!
And her main man, Adam Dalgleish is back, along with his trusted assistants, Kate Miskin and Piers Tarrant, as the superintendent enters ecclesiastical waters in this episode. A theological student has been found dead on the East Anglian shore, a tragedy ruled “accidental.” However, pressed by the student’s father, Dalgleish re-examines the ruling and James is off to the races in typical (read that “exciting”) style.
Known as the “dark poet of Scotland Yard,” Dalgleish finds himself, once again, in familiar territory, as he recalls having visited the College of St. Anselm in his youth; however, momentary nostalgia aside, he finds more than he could possibly have anticipated. Of course, there is soon another death and Dalgleish’s own “little gray cells” begin working overtime! Indeed, this may be the more horrifying case he’s encountered, as James explores evil as she’s never done before.
Once again, James takes some time to present Dalgleish, the man, as well. Each of the books in his series provides more and more insight into this incredibly complex policeman. Dalgleish fans will welcome this, of course. “Death in Holy Orders” is yet another of those books that find themselves almost impossible to put down. James and Dalgleish--what a combination, what a read!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By K. Hicks on 27 Mar. 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the most entertaining books I have read in ages. Not being an avid reader of the genre I picked it up expecting to be mildly lulled into sleep but found myself losing sleep as I was unable to put it down at night! P D James skill is to keep the reader part of the investigating team of this suspicious series of deaths. The first death in the book is the last to be resolved and keeps the reader held until the very end. Those with a knowledge of Anglican theological colleges (especially of an Anglo Catholic bent)will I am sure recognise both priests and ordinands they have met there!
Buy it and enjoy it!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 10 May 2001
Format: Hardcover
With this her 17th book, P.D. James once again executes an admirable balancing act by combining, in her definition of a classic detective story, "a credible mystery with believable characters and a setting which both complements and integrates the action." The setting is East Anglia, one used by James in a number of her novels. It is here on the gloomy, windswept Suffolk coast, within yards of the North Sea, that we find St. Anselm's, a small theological college with only four resident priests and a student body which never exceeds twenty. St. Anselm's is described as High Church, probably Prayer Book Catholic, strong on theology, elitist, opposed to practically everything that's happened in Anglicanism in the past 50 years . . . and the food and wine are good. It is the action's locus, of which the reader is well aware long before Detective Inspector Kate Miskin observes, "So, it's going to be one of those self-contained cases with all the suspects under one roof . . ."
In "Death in Holy Orders," James gives us an apparent suicide (Ronald Treeves, ordinand), a certified natural death (Margaret Munroe, employee), and a brutal murder (Archdeacon Crampton, guest and trustee). Commander Adam Dalgliesh, who is brought to St. Anselm's at the request of Ronald Treeves's influential father, is convinced that the three deaths are connected. The Treeves and Munroe deaths occur before his arrival, but the murder of the unpopular Archdeacon takes place during Dalgliesh's stay at the college. Upon viewing the body, he becomes angered and vows to lift the burden of his past failure ("A Certain Justice") by making an arrest in the present murder. Soon after, yet another death (murder or accident?) broadens the challenge.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S. Bailey VINE VOICE on 1 May 2007
Format: Paperback
The isolated theological college on the Norfolk coast is a classic Golden Age-style setting for a murder, but it's far from clear that it's murder we're dealing with. Ronald Treeves, one of the students, is found dead on the beach, his head buried under a cliff fall. The verdict is suicide. The subsequent death of Margaret Monroe, the college matron, appears to be an entirely natural case of heart failure. Sir Alred Treeves, Ronald's father, refuses to take his son's death at face value, and insists that Scotland Yard send in their best man. Enter Adam Dalgliesh.

Naturally, the scenario Dalgliesh discovers is not one of innocent sociability. A paedophile priest, an incestuous pigman, a psychotic policeman and an ordinand just too good looking for anyone's well-being seem to offer infinite possibilities for mischief, and that's before the archdeacon arrives to close the college and is found murdered in the chapel.

James unfolds this delicious plot with consummate skill, teasing her readers with half statements, hints and reported thought. Holding off the main murder until the middle of the book is a master-stroke, a gothic horror after the flat, sea-bleached mundanity of the first half. Though it seems that we are not yet to be spared Dalgliesh's singleton-ness, at least this is now balanced by Kate Miskin's career crisis, and there is more than enough detecting for the detectives here to distract them from their private lives. This will definitely please established fans of James' work, and seems likely to win her new acolytes too.
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