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on 12 September 2011
Oh P.D. (if I may...)
If P.D. James wrote 'literary' as opposed to crime fiction, and/or wasn't female, she would be seen as one of Britain's greatest writers. Her characterisation, her plotting, her emotional subtlety and her moral universe are incomparable. If you're wondering whether to read her at all then YES DO, but Devices and Desires, Original Sin or (my favourite) Innocent Blood, but not this book.
THE PRIVATE PATIENT is a great disappointment - leaden, formulaic-seeming, almost embarrassingly rhetorical at times, and cliched at others. I've read every single other novel she's written and I'd say only read this if you're such a devoted fan you can't resist.
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on 22 August 2014
An amazing insight into the criminal mind and criminology. I love P>D>James
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Format: Audio CDVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The BBC have a superb reputation for producing radio drama and this very recent production continues in the tradition of the great radio detectives. The role of well known detective Commander Adam Dalgliesh is taken on by Richard Derrington and he brings authority to the role. DI Kate Miskin is played by Deborah McAndrew. A good mixture of history and present day investigation makes for a wide ranging investigation. I also enjoy the dramatization aspect as this allows the production to move with pace and the use of a narrator played very well by Carolyn Pickles allows the production to run for around 2 and a quarter hours.
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on 9 October 2009
Thirty years ago, when at college, my English tutor condescended that P.D.James was a 'popular crime writer of some quality'. It's taken me this long to get round to reading one of her books, and I wish I hadn't bothered.

We meet Rhoda Gradwyn, the 'body', on the first page as an investigative journalist, but by page 103, when I just couldn't be bothered to waste any more of my life on this book, we knew absolutely nothing of her career. Also, that she was due to meet Robin Boyton for lunch, but were given no clue as to what their relationship was. Neither did we find out, as Mr Boyton went on to give out copious details of the cast to come, and setting up the various relationships, without being asked any leading questions. Yawn.....

I DID try to read it by imagining that it was a Midsomer Murder,with attendant quirky characters, but even that failed me in the end.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 15 October 2008
It's amazing how PD James has managed to keep up a steady stream of excellent novels featuring Adam Dalgliesh. I think they are more novels than crime fiction as the detection of the murders is peripheral to the exploration of the characters and their interactions. Her writing style is quite complex with long sentences and many characters to keep track of and, in my experience, better suited to be read than heard as an audio book (of which I have some in this series).
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on 19 November 2008
This is the first P.D. James I have read. But if this is supposed to be her best, I dread her worst. I am ploughing through it, having reserved it for my convalescence post op. Very boring,reminiscent of Agatha Christie albeit beautifully written. Certainly my last book written by her, shame , I was looking forward to it.
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on 18 May 2015
Very well written of course but a little lacking in pace.
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on 8 December 2014
A good story well told, as to be expected from P D James
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Most people who die because of plastic surgery have a bad reaction to the anesthetic or something like that.

Few plastic surgery patients are strangled. But that is the crime du jour of the fourteenth Adam Dalgleish novel, a quietly tangled web of motives and suspicious characters in a classic mystery setting. But P.D. James elevates your average whodunnit with her refined brand of police investigation, as well as the bittersweet meditations on aging, love and loneliness.

For the past thirty years, investigative journalist Rhoda Gradwyn has had a chasmic scar on her face. But now she decides to have it repaired by the eminent plastic surgeon George Chandler-Powell, at his beautiful old manorhouse. But mere hours after the surgery, Rhoda is found strangled, and Adam Dalgleish is called in to investigate who in the Manor wanted her dead.

Turns out that there are a number of motives, some more coldly rational than others -- Rhoda's boytoy, the mentor of a girl Gradwyn destroyed, and a young woman with a gruesome past. With plenty of people who could have done it, Dalgleish must unravel who actually did do it, and the secret motives that others are keeping hidden. But he may not be in time to prevent more deaths...

"The Private Patient" is a book preoccupied by the passage of time. Lonely futures, sad pasts, the "flattening" of aging, the world changing and people losing their family homes. Even Dalgleish's impending wedding has a bittersweet edge, since it heralds changes among his friendships. Yet P.D. James makes sure to remind us that love and friendship can overcome the sadness of change and loss.

And with the sure hand of an experienced writer, James spins a solid whodunnit with plenty of red herrings and a wealth of suspects. While the first few chapters are a bit slow -- do we REALLY need the life story of every member of the Manor staff? -- everything speeds up after the first murder. It quietly chugs along up through ghastly backstories (the child-murder case), right up to the hallucinatory, fiery climax at a ring of stones where an alleged witch was once burned.

While most of the story is devoted to basic police investigations, James also fills it with a beautiful, picturesque atmosphere ("... burnishing the trunks of the beech tees and bathing the stones of the manor in a silvery glow") and literary allusions (Oscar Wilde and Thomas Hardy, among others). Most strikingly, she gives the modern police grind a refined, elegant edge that harkens back to a previous age.

And James handles Dalgleish with fondness and warmth, whether it's making a horribly awkward visit to his future father-in-law (very "Importance of Being Earnest") or navigating a crime maze with his partners. And he has some personal problems to deal with as well, since some close friends are victims of a horrible crime -- plus there's that whole impending wedding thing.

As befits a mystery, the supporting characters are given the shadowy dimensions of acquaintances -- we have some idea of their lives and personalities, but not really whether they are the murderer. And James handles some of the seemingly cliche characters -- the crazy girl, the prettyboy wastrel, the haughty doctor -- quite gracefully.

"The Private Patient" is a murder mystery that blossoms into a bittersweet exploration of passing time, with haunting writing and a solid plot. Definitely deserving of notice.
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on 27 December 2014
Good to listen to a PD James story. no probs.
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