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Unnatural Causes [Paperback]

P. D. James
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 Jan 2006
Superintendent Adam Dalgliesh had been looking forward to a quiet holiday at his aunt's cottage on Monksmere Head, one of the furthest-flung spots on the remote Suffolk coast. With nothing to do other than enjoy long wind-swept walks, tea in front of the crackling wood fire and hot buttered toast, Dalgliesh was relishing the thought of a well-earned break. However, all hope of peace is soon shattered by murder. The mutilated body of a local crime writer, Maurice Seaton, floats ashore in a drifting dinghy to drag Adam Dalgliesh into a new and macabre investigation.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Faber and Faber (5 Jan 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571228585
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571228584
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 17.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 521,203 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

Review

"People"P. D. James is the greatest living mystery writer. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

Stunning paperback repackages celebrating the world's pre-eminent crime writer and over forty years of detective fiction. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Victor HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
First published in 1967, Unnatural Causes was the third in PD James' Adam Dalgleish series. Following a particularly draining case, and with a difficult decision to make, Dalgleish is looking forward to a nice quiet holiday on the remote Suffolk coast with his Aunt. But no sooner has he arrived than a seemingly grotesque murder occurs. Not officially involved in the investigation, Dalgleish nonetheless becomes enmeshed in it and his holiday plans are soon in ruins.

All the PD James trademarks that make her books such a delight are here. The plethora of suspects (at one time or another I suspected almost every character including the investigating policemen as she leads the reader up a variety of garden paths), her beautiful use of language that really sets the scene and the character (and as usual I needed a dictionary close at hand, James' vocabulary is immense) and her interest in character as much as plot. But this book has something extra that makes it a real delight for me. I am a huge fan of the big four crime writers of the last century (Christie, Marsh, Allingham and Sayers) and this book appears to be part homage to and part sly laughing at James' great predecessors. Filled with characters and situations that might have come from one of those ladies books, but made realistic and three dimensional, James tips a few knowing winks while showing us the reality of a murder investigation. As well as this I found it to be an intriguing and well written mystery that held me quite gripped until the last. 5 stars.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Awful 5 Mar 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The characters are all unpleasant, even the hero and his aunt are smug. Quite why Dalgleish has such a dislike for the ridiculously named inspector Reckless is hard to understand. The story drags on and then there is a sudden, incongruous and over dramatic ending and a completely implausible explanation for the murders which no one could possibly have deduced, although we are supposed to believe Dalgleish does so in detail (although it is never explained how he comes to his conclusions). Fortunately the murderer tapes a confession for his/her own use. As they do. Ridiculous.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Mystery Followed by an Unsatisfying End 25 Mar 2006
By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
Unnatural Causes is early Adam Dalgleish. He's still coping with his reluctance to become emotionally intimate and uses a holiday to visit his Aunt Jane as an opportunity to think things over. Will he ask Deborah Riscoe to marry him . . . or not?
Naturally, as soon as he arrives there's a mysterious disappearance followed by all kinds of bizarre events. When the mystery turns into apparent crime, Dalgleish becomes concerned for his aunt who doesn't have an alibi. A.D. is also on the outside looking in as the local CID led by Inspector Reckless seems to resent Dalgleish's presence.
The whole circumstance is made ore bizarre by the presence of many literary types in what increasingly seems to be a literary mystery written about in a mystery. There's a fascinating story within the story element that gets the book off to a strong start.
But as Dalgleish unravels the ultimate mystery, the book also comes unraveled. You get a lengthy explanation, but the end doesn't move swimmingly along like the beginning and middle do.
Perhaps Baroness James painted herself into a corner by producing such an imaginative mystery and couldn't bear to part with it when she couldn't think up a nice ending to match.
But I still recommend the book because of the strong beginning and middle. You can skip the end after the storm if you want. You'll probably like the book better if you do.
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Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Victor HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
First published in 1967, Unnatural Causes was the third in PD James' Adam Dalgleish series. Following a particularly draining case, and with a difficult decision to make, Dalgleish is looking forward to a nice quiet holiday on the remote Suffolk coast with his Aunt. But no sooner has he arrived than a seemingly grotesque murder occurs. Not officially involved in the investigation, Dalgleish nonetheless becomes enmeshed in it and his holiday plans are soon in ruins.

All the PD James trademarks that make her books such a delight are here. The plethora of suspects (at one time or another I suspected almost every character including the investigating policemen as she leads the reader up a variety of garden paths), her beautiful use of language that really sets the scene and the character (and as usual I needed a dictionary close at hand, James' vocabulary is immense) and her interest in character as much as plot. But this book has something extra that makes it a real delight for me. I am a huge fan of the big four crime writers of the last century (Christie, Marsh, Allingham and Sayers) and this book appears to be part homage to and part sly laughing at James' great predecessors. Filled with characters and situations that might have come from one of those ladies books, but made realistic and three dimensional, James tips a few knowing winks while showing us the reality of a murder investigation. As well as this I found it to be an intriguing and well written mystery that held me quite gripped until the last. 5 stars.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Victor HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
First published in 1967, Unnatural Causes was the third in PD James' Adam Dalgleish series. Following a particularly draining case, and with a difficult decision to make, Dalgleish is looking forward to a nice quiet holiday on the remote Suffolk coast with his Aunt. But no sooner has he arrived than a seemingly grotesque murder occurs. Not officially involved in the investigation, Dalgleish nonetheless becomes enmeshed in it and his holiday plans are soon in ruins.

All the PD James trademarks that make her books such a delight are here. The plethora of suspects (at one time or another I suspected almost every character including the investigating policemen as she leads the reader up a variety of garden paths), her beautiful use of language that really sets the scene and the character (and as usual I needed a dictionary close at hand, James' vocabulary is immense) and her interest in character as much as plot. But this book has something extra that makes it a real delight for me. I am a huge fan of the big four crime writers of the last century (Christie, Marsh, Allingham and Sayers) and this book appears to be part homage to and part sly laughing at James' great predecessors. Filled with characters and situations that might have come from one of those ladies books, but made realistic and three dimensional, James tips a few knowing winks while showing us the reality of a murder investigation. As well as this I found it to be an intriguing and well written mystery that held me quite gripped until the last. 5 stars.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars An exciting read
A slow start but becomes really gripping with a dramatic & quick end! The author's descriptions are very graphic & enable the reader to really enter into the drama.
Published 3 months ago by Susannah East
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
PD James always writes a good story with great fluidity and beautiful prose. Her books never fail to please. That's all!
Published 3 months ago by JMH
3.0 out of 5 stars Reasonable and undemanding bed time reading
Most improbable and rather ponderous. All seems to be going along quite well without, at least for me, any clues as to the guilty party but when revealed the answer is so... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Roger Smith
3.0 out of 5 stars Full of stereotypes
Not a bad plot but the ending was an anti-climax. Characters unsympathetic and stereotypical throughout. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Karen Anderson
5.0 out of 5 stars awesome
intriguing, well written rounded characters could not put down ive read all her books and everyone is classic and full of knowledge
Published 6 months ago by bookwise
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written mystery
This author writes so much better than most of the genre. Her plots are complex and hard to antipate and her characterisation really good.
Published 6 months ago by Michael S. Jeans
5.0 out of 5 stars Unnatural Causes : PD James - Unnaturally good mystery
First published in 1967, Unnatural Causes was the third in PD James' Adam Dalgleish series. Following a particularly draining case, and with a difficult decision to make, Dalgleish... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Victor
5.0 out of 5 stars Unnatural Causes : PD James - Unnaturally good mystery
First published in 1967, Unnatural Causes was the third in PD James' Adam Dalgleish series. Following a particularly draining case, and with a difficult decision to make, Dalgleish... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Victor
5.0 out of 5 stars Unnatural Causes : PD James - Unnaturally good mystery
First published in 1967, Unnatural Causes was the third in PD James' Adam Dalgleish series. Following a particularly draining case, and with a difficult decision to make, Dalgleish... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Victor
5.0 out of 5 stars Unnatural Causes : PD James - Unnaturally good mystery
First published in 1967, Unnatural Causes was the third in PD James' Adam Dalgleish series. Following a particularly draining case, and with a difficult decision to make, Dalgleish... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Victor
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