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The Murder Room Paperback – 5 Feb 2004

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Faber and Faber; New Ed edition (5 Feb. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571218237
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571218233
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2.8 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 468,694 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


"The Murder Room is James's most suspenseful, atmospheric novel in years and has no shortage of surprise twists." -"The New York Times Book Review" "Another elegant tale of murder, mystery, human misery and the wonder of loveE. James explores the lowest of depravity . . . with the most elegant prose." --"USA Today" "Riveting . . . exquisite, absorbing. . . . The Murder Room possesses everything we desire, no, long for, from James." --"The Miami Herald" "Elegantly constructed, beautifully written . . . [The Murder Room] is cause for rejoicing. . . . [It]" "is that much-sought-after but rare combination of reading that both transports the reader to another world and engages the imagination." --"St. Louis Post-Dispatch ""Difficult--and delightful--as it is to believe, P. D. James keeps getting better. . . . The Murder Room might be the best mystery novel of 2003. . . . This is a book to savor . . . with writing so felicitous the reader doesn't want it to end." --"Indianapolis Star" "Riveting. . . . "The Murder Room "possesses everything we desire from James. . . . [Her] lovely, clear prose travels at a stately pace, never cluttered by random violence or unnecessary characters, taking us where we need to be with assurance, intelligence and grace. No word or action is wasted; everyone and everything matters." --"The Chicago Tribune""Ms. James skill is impressively displayed." --"The New York Times" "P.D. James is surely one of the best living writers of English. [The Murder Room]'s typical James-wonderful English settings, fine writing, psychological depth." --"Rocky Mountain News" "Any ranking of today's best crime writers would surely put Britain's P.D.James at or near the top. This subtly told, character-driven novel, which emphasizes people over plot, provides, as usual, a richly-rewarding reading experience." --"The San Diego Union-Tribune" "Immensely satisfying, with James introducing her large cast and its secrets with consummate skill." --"The Washington Post""Carefully crafted . . . [with] richly portrayed characters. . . . P. D. James can still spin an intricate web of psychological suspense that demands the reader's attention and involvement. . . . James tells this tale in lucid language, with a wry eye on people and their faults." --"San Antonio Express-News" "Elegant . . . smooth storytelling. . . . The culprit remains convincingly elusive until the end." --"Houston Chronicle""A perfectly cozy read for a cold, foggy night when you feel like curling up with a cup of tea." --"Entertainment Weekly" "Sophisticated literary entertainment. . . . Masterful detailing of people and place. . . . Acute psychological portraits. . . . [A] carefully crafted tale." --"The Orlando Sentinel""Literate prose, sprinkled with enough deliciously British details to satisfy even the most diehard Anglophile. . . . [James is] an enormously appealing novelist." --"The Boston Globe" "Expertly plotted and elegantly written, the novel will stand with the best of her always-fine work. And as usual with a James novel, the characters are drawn with care and sympathy." --"The Richmond Times-Dispatch" "James whips up a thought-provoking, finely crafted literary murder mystery. . . . The Murder Room" "is a riveting and well-constructed read." --"San Jose Mercury News" "Elegant language and deft, intricatecharacterizations." --"Pittsburg Tribune-Review" "James writes of the whydunit rather than the whodunit and her grasp and appreciation for the boundless perplexities of human behavior deeply enriches her books." --"Philadelphia Inquirer" "The eminence grise of British detective fiction, James delivers another ruminative puzzler, generous in character, graceful in prose." --"The Village Voice" "James' strength as a writer lies in her ability to craft characters with depth. She doesn't just supply names and ages but gives readers a sense of her characters' desires and motives (and not just murderous ones)." --"Fort Worth Star-Telegram"

From the Back Cover

Commander Dalgliesh investigates a horrible death at the Dupayne, a private museum on the edge of Hampstead Heath, dedicated to the years 1919-1939. One of the museum galleries displays exhibits from the most notorious murder cases of those inter-war years, and now a modern killer is at work, the crimes uncannily echoing the cases on display. All the people at the Dupayne - the trustees, the staff and the volunteers - have the means and the opportunity for murder. One of them has the ruthlessness to kill and kill again.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 22 Nov. 2004
Format: Paperback
Adam Dalgliesh is called in to investigate the murder of one of the trustees of the Dupayne Museum.
This is one of PD James' most enjoyable books, because the characterisation is so good. Time (and pages!) are taken to set the scene and introduce the characters. It is time well spent as the characters are easily distinguishable, believable and sympathetically written. The plot is that of a typical British who dunnit. It is easy to read, but what sets this book apart from the standard crime novel is the quality of the writing, which was superb. A book not to be missed by anyone enjoying good British crime fiction.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 21 Jun. 2004
Format: Hardcover
Seldom has such wonderful writing been attached to such an unmysterious mystery. I found myself wishing that Ms. James had skipped the mystery and just written a novel about the characters. The result would undoubtedly have been much more satisfying.
Commander Adam Dalgliesh finds himself unexpectedly invited to visit an oddball museum, the Dupayne, which specializes in England between the two world wars. The founder has provided rare first editions of top novelists and representative paintings by the better artists of the time. Maintained as a private institution by the founder's children, the museum's most popular feature is the Murder Room, where the most infamous murders of the period are displayed. There's tension in the family though, as one of the children wants to have the museum closed.
Soon thereafter, Dalgliesh has to call off a date with delicious Emma Lavenham, whom he met in Death in Holy Orders, to begin investigating a suspicious death at the Dupayne. MI5 wants to protect one of its own from being discovered so sensitivity is needed. Everyone on the team is quickly struck the resemblance of the crime to one that is featured in the Murder Room. What's the connection? Is there a copy cat at work here?
The book's greatest strength is its powerful description of the Dupayne and those who serve it. You will feel like you have been to the museum and met the people there. The book has an extended beginning that gives you more than the usual detail about the most important characters. I felt like I had been invited to tea with them, and had a chance to settle into the story at a very leisurely pace. Of the major characters, both Ms. Tally Clutton, the housekeeper, and Dr. Neville Dupayne, son of the museum's founder, were quite memorable and convincing.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Valerie Fletcher Adolph VINE VOICE on 16 Dec. 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is another classic P. D. James mystery novel. At an age where many writers would be happy to lay down their pen (or switch off their computers) she still comes up with enthralling stories, vivid characters and plots full of surprises. Her acute observation of the human mind, foibles and reactions has sharpened with time.
The story is set in an eccentric little museum in London and the Murder Room houses exhibits relating to murders committed during the 1920's and 1930's. The focus is on a trunk that once contained the body of a murdered girl. The family who owns the museum is divided over whether to close it or continue to operate it, but some of the activities in the museum are more - shall we say "unusual" - than others and many people would be negatively affected if it closed.
Introducing characters in a mystery novel is difficult to do well, but James does it better than anyone. The reader is never left trying to remember if Neville was the doctor or the curator. She also introduces us to the peripheral characters who are affected by the crime, fleshing each one out rapidly, but leaving a clearer impression than most writers make with their main characters.
This is a mature writer, still at the peak of her power to draw readers into strong stories and to make them care about characters who may be a little off-beat, but never the usual caricatures of the English. There is a richness of texture in this book. The investigators, chiefly Adam Dalgleish and Kate Miskin have gained some maturity and a measure of understanding of themselves as well as their suspects.
I can recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a classic English mystery.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By RachelWalker TOP 500 REVIEWER on 23 Aug. 2003
Format: Hardcover
One morning, by chance, Commander Dalgleish has opportunity to visit the Dupayne, a small private museum on the edge of Hampstead Heath. It deals with the inter-war years, 1918-1939, and its most renowned exhibition is The Murder Room, a display of artefacts and information on the most notorious murder cases of the day. However, within a week Dalgleish will have cause to return to the Dupayne, but not for recreational purposes this time. This time, he will be investigating a brutal murder.
Dr Neville Dupayne, one of the three trustees of the museum, it being passed on to him and his brother and sister upon the death of their father, is found dead in a burning car near the museum, in a scenario exactly mirroring one of the cases featured in the bizarre Murder Room. And there is no lack of people with a motive, for the Dupayne is coming up for renewal of it's lease which, under the conditions of their late father's will, must be signed by all three trustees or become void, and Neville is the only one who refuses to sign. Yet there are several people whose futures have a strong stake in the future and continued running of the museum...
Then, mere days later, another body is found, once again killed in an identical manner to one of the cases from the Murder Room...
Perhaps not quite James's strongest novel, this is still a very good book, and will undoubtedly follow on the immense success of her last, Death in Holy Orders. As a novel, it is traditional in its form, but with James that means nothing, certainly not that you are in for anything like a "cosy" mystery.
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