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The Private Patient (unabridged, 12 CDs) [Audiobook, Unabridged] [Audio CD]

P. D. James , Michael Jayston
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (175 customer reviews)

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Book Description

8 Jan 2009
When notorious investigative journalist Rhoda Gradwyn booked into an exclusive clinic in Dorset for the removal of a disfiguring facial scar, she had every prospect of a successful operation by a distinguished surgeon, followed by a week's peaceful convalescence in one of Dorset's most beautiful manor houses and the beginning of a new life. She was never to leave Cheverell Manor alive. Dalgliesh and his team are swiftly called in to investigate, but when a second death occurs, the situation raises an even more complicated problem than the question of innocence or guilt...Displaying all P. D. James' distinctive richness of characterisation and vivid evocation of place, "The Private Patient", read by Michael Jayston, is a powerful, dark and thrilling mystery that ranks among her finest novels.

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: BBC Audiobooks Ltd; Unabridged edition (8 Jan 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408410087
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408410080
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 14.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (175 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 152,833 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

Given the astonishing length of the writing career of PD James (her first novel was published in 1962), it is perhaps not surprising that her work often consciously refers back to an earlier era of British crime writing -- but it's none-the worse for that. In fact, James' clever and affectionate reinventions of the devices and conventions of that era afford a particular pleasure -- as is the case with her latest, The Private Patient.

Uncompromising investigative journalist Rhoda Gradwyn has booked herself into the Chandler Powell private clinic in Dorset. She has decided to remove a disfiguring facial scar, and is looking forward to what she hopes will be a new life after the surgery. But Rhoda will not leave the clinical alive – she is killed. After her murder, Commander Adam Dalgliesh is summoned to investigate. As he begins to examine suspects, scene and motives, a second death occurs, and Dalgliesh finds himself faced with one of the most complex and challenging mysteries of his career.

In many ways, The Private Patient has the structure of a novel from the golden age of crime fiction, and James is well aware of the very best writing from that era (including Cyril Hare, who James succeeded as premier crime writer for her publisher, Faber). Needless to say, she freights in a very modern level of psychological investigation, more penetrating than that of her great predecessors. If the novel seems less initially engaging than other recent work by the author, there is perhaps a subtle agenda here: James is avoiding the more obvious reader-grabbing tactics to present a low-key investigation of character than she has chosen to deal with in recent books. If a little more patience is required than usual, the result of this understated approach pays dividends. And admirers of James (and her doughty detective Dalgliesh) will be prepared to be flexible for the pleasures of the cogently handled narrative here. --Barry Forshaw --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"Although she tackles contemporary social issues with relish, James will still use old-fashioned narrative devices dating back to the golden age of crime fiction. That's because they still work." -"Calgary Herald " "Her skill and vitality are not diminished . . . The Private Patient" "is classic James." -"Scotsman ""This is a book about the way we live now . . . James brings a stinging clarity to the complicated goings-on in the Dorset countryside" -"The Sunday Times ""Elegantly phrased, plot-driven, multi-layered and laced with menace." -"Observer" "P. D. James -- in the eyes of many admirers the world's finest living crime novelist." -"The Windsor Star" "From the Hardcover edition." --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good story, brilliantly told 23 July 2009
By Champollion VINE VOICE
Format:Audio CD
Simply put - this an excellent audio CD of the PD James murder mystery "The Private Patient." The careful build up of the story and characters is expertly crafted by the author. Michael Jayston deserves special praise for his brilliant narration. Sit back, relax, and listen. You will not be disappointed. Recommended.
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some patience needed 8 Mar 2009
By Jen P
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This is brilliantly read. Michael Jayston is the perfect reader, suggesting different voices, accents, gender, without caricature.
The plot is good old fashioned detective fiction: complicated, not entirely realistic, but not too far-fetched either.
My only reservation is, surprisingly, the writing - there is too much detail, too much spelling out of thoughts which in her earlier novels PD James expected her readers to infer.
Nonetheless, good entertainment. Perfect while you're cooking, ironing or just being lazy.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it! 15 Jun 2010
Format:Audio CD
I have to say when I ordered this online in audio format it was for a friend. The cover intrigued me so much - I'm into stone circles and standing stones - that I had to go out and get a copy in paperback for myself. I'd yearned for it for some time but finally purchased it.

WOW! That's all I can say. PD James you've done yourself proud with this one. The location descriptions made me feel like I was there. Lots of suspense built in to keep me wondering until the who-dunnit was solved.

I've not read a lot by this author but after having read this novel, I'll be reading her entire collection!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I loved the early PD James but haven't read the last 3-4 books as it seemed to me that she had lost her way slightly. The Private Patient in lots of ways is a return to the classic detective story: the closed atmosphere of the private clinic, the delving into the personalities and back-stories of the suspects, and the final twisting denouement.

I won't repeat the plot as other reviewers have already done that, but this treads a fine line between the predictable and the enticing. Perhaps precisely because I've had a long break from James, I enjoyed this immensely. Dalgleish seems much softer and more nuanced than in some of the earlier books and his team is an interesting one.

There are some moments that don't quite work (why is Dalgleish's team called in? This doesn't seem to be a politically sensitive case?) and some threads are started and then not followed up. The final solution also seemed to me to be a tad unsatisfactory in personality terms, and some of the characters are very cliched. James' own social background was more prominent here than I've noticed before: so many people appear to be academics with a Classics background and more people are at home with Latin tags than I suspect is the case in 'real' life.

However, all that doesn't detract at all from a compelling story, well told. So overall this doesn't stretch the detective fiction genre in any way at all - and why should it? - but what it does, it does very well indeed.
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112 of 121 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another dark marvel 25 Aug 2008
By emma who reads a lot TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
If you love PD James you already know what to expect: the English countryside at its most mysterious and threatening; descriptions of London and its twistings and turnings; a strange, dysfunctional group of suspects bound together by professional ties, rivalries, jealousies and secrets; and most of all an intricately-constructed plot.

There's all of that on offer in this book. P.D.James is Britain's Great Grandma of Crime, and despite now being 88 has just turned out a new novel featuring the restrained and intellectual detective Adam Dalgleish. Dorset is the setting, amongst sinister standing stones that feature on the cover: it is midwinter and the trees are bare. Just the moment for a violent death in a private plastic surgery clinic. The murder victim is an investigative journalist, strangled after having a mysterious scar removed - whose secrets has she disturbed?

P.D. James likes to focus on institutions, like the forensics clinic of "Death of an Expert Witness" or Peverell Pres, the gothic publishing house that featured in "Original Sin". The upmarket cosmetic surgery clinic in this book is another such creation, with lots of secrets under the surface. There's lots about Miskin, who I really like, and more development of Dalgleish's relationship with Emma. I don't want to give away any plot details in a review, so please forgive me for being sketchy about the book's actual events, but let me just say the book wraps up very neatly. And ends on a good note...

This is a proper old-fashioned English detective story where the picture is slowly pieced together through a kind of fugal repetition of themes, including a returning image of time that unites the novel.
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Elegant murder mystery 10 May 2009
By Jonathan Birch VINE VOICE
P.D. James is 88, and if the thought of churning out 400-page novels at that age impresses you, spare a thought for her detective, Adam Dalgliesh, who's been wrestling culprits to the floor since 1962. I can only assume he's been drinking the same elixir as James Bond, and gets younger and more muscular with each new case.

The setting for The Private Patient is, naturally, a decaying outpost of provincial privilege with a spooky and claustrophobic atmosphere. Rhoda Gradwyn, a fearless investigative journalist with a fair tally of accumulated enemies, books in to the private Dorset clinic of her plastic surgeon, George Chandler-Powell. The purpose of the visit: the removal of a deep scar across Gradwyn's cheek, inflicted during childhood. The operation is completed successfully. But the following night, bandages still wrapped round her face, Rhoda is strangled in her bed.

Helpfully enough, the clinic, a beautiful yet intimidating Tudor manor house, is an enclosed space chock full of suspects. Two of the staff have longstanding grudges against Gradwyn, another has a dark past that has caused her to assume a new identity, one of Rhoda's friends stands to gain from her will, and Chandler-Powell's two medical assistants both have reasons for wanting to ruin the surgeon's reputation. So whodunnit? And what is the significance of the ancient stone circle outside the manor, where a witch was once burned, and where strange lights were seen on the night of the murder?

The Private Patient is a novel resolute in its conformity to the conventions and clichés of its genre, but it's a class act nonetheless -- the work of a novelist rightly confident of the continuing power and relevance of the old Agatha Christie format.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Bought for a present
Published 1 month ago by Geoff
1.0 out of 5 stars Tedious Tosh
It took 300 pages for this novel to pick up any momentum, awful plot and leaden characters. Elsewhere it has been mentioned that this book should have been proof read. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Clara
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
An amazing insight into the criminal mind and criminology. I love P>D>James
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but not good enough.
This is a good whodunit yet for P D James, good isn't what one expects. Previous books, taste for death as an example, were outstanding. Read more
Published 2 months ago by jools
1.0 out of 5 stars Donating this to charity
I'm so glad to know that I'm not the only one who found this a tedious and unrewarding read (or in my case, listen). Read more
Published 2 months ago by Kristi-mitzi
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good read
As always P D James entertains to perfection. Adam Dalgliesh the man as well as the detective gives a personal touch to the story. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Kathy C.
4.0 out of 5 stars Dalgliesh
Interesting story, a lot of character building at the beginning then Dalgliesh gets down to work and a resolution is reached, though perhaps not the answer you expected!.
Published 4 months ago by Peter Joiner
5.0 out of 5 stars THE PRIVATE PATIENT
Very good story that kept you guessing until the end. A lot of reading which explained each person in the plot fully.
Published 4 months ago by Cynthia Faulkner
5.0 out of 5 stars The private patient
P d James is always a pleasure to read, her ability to portray many traits of the human condition are exceptional,her depiction of both men and women at all ages always strikes me... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Dom
3.0 out of 5 stars Adam Dalgleish
This book did not come up to my expectations, normally with mystery books I find myself desperate to read another page but not this time.
Published 6 months ago by Jean Naysmith
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