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3.5 out of 5 stars203
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on 30 August 2008
This novel is well up to James' usual high standard and fans of her work, like myself, will enjoy it very much. I think it ended a bit abruptly; I would have like for the actions and motive of the exposed murderer to be explored more, but not having some things spelled out also has its charms and it didn't detract much from the book.

One thing I am beginning to find annoying is the descriptions of the recurring characters and their relationships to eachother (Emma's frienship with Clara, Kate's with her grandmother, Benton's with his parents, etc.), which seem to be repeated almost verbatim in the last three or four books. I realise that each book must stand alone, but the author could at least phrase them differently!
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on 25 November 2008
I was really looking forward to reading the latest offering from P.D.James and settled down to enjoy her latest mystery. The plot surrounds the death of journalist, Rhoda Gradwyn, who is booked into Mr Chandler-Powell's private clinic to remove a disfiguring scar. Commander Adam Dagleish and his team arrive at the clinic to investigate the murder. All the ingredients are there for an enjoyablable read - the familiar characters, atmospheric setting, characters who have secrets to hide and a murderer to be exposed.
Unfortunately, I was disappointed as I found the story very slow moving. it didn't help that I worked out the name of the murderer about half way through the book. I think the problem was that the character of Adam Dagleish has become very robotic. Suspects and his team make comments and he listens but he seems so passive that I felt his presence was very weak. In the novel 'To The Lighthouse' he was portrayed as a human being, especially when he became ill but in this novel he seemed to be fading out of the action leaving a lot of questioning to his team.
He does have a girlfriend but even in the scenes with her, he reacts in a wooden manner. When she arrived with a tale of woe, he speaks to her in a cold manner as though they were strangers.
In fact many of the characters are discreet, quiet individuals and I must confess I did keep getting the female occupants at the Manor confused with one another. Even the murder victim is a very private person.
The story did leave me with lots of questions and P.D. James uses the end of the novel to try and tie up lots of loose ends which led to a boring end to the story. In the end I did not care who had committed the murder and I only partly understood the fire incdent at the standing stones.
Having said all that, I have enjoyed all the previous P.D. James's books and there is a lot in this story for people to enjoy so I've given it three stars. I hope you will follow the plot a little better than I did.
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on 19 October 2009
P.D. James has the rare ability to avoid sensational surprises from left field in order to keep the reader guessing yet still deliver uncertainty until the end of the investigation. This is a very tight story that revolves around the country-house-based cosmetic surgery clinic of Mr Chandler-Powell. His latest patient, the mature and established investigative journalist Rhoda Gradwyn, has lived almost her whole life with a facial scar that has never seemed to trouble her but which she has now decided she no longer has any use for, an interesting turn of phrase. Her arrival at the secluded Cheverell Manor for the operation seems straightforward enough and could not have forseen the events that followed.

Needless to say it is the players themselves that transcend both location and time and it is here that James weaves her magic. Yet again her attention to detail paints pictures that enable us to see as well as get to know her characters. We are already familiar, of course, with Adam Dalgleish, Detective Inspector Miskin and Detective Sergeant Benton, but as always James succeeds in adding yet more to them, cementing what we already know and deepening the strength of this solid and dependable team. In this tale, Adam is close to marriage, and who would have predicted that ten years ago, whilst Benton's youthful enthusiasm yet deference to Miskin is as reassuring as we would like our police men and women to be.

Cheverell Manor, seemingly tucked away from the modern world in the depths of Dorset, nonetheless houses a rich gathering of permanent staff and visiting clinicians, Chandler-Powell amongst them, who bring their pasts into our present and slowly reveal an inevitable clash of desires and emotions.

James has the knack of presenting the obvious solution and then snatching it back, we feel inadequate and foolish for thinking such thoughts, and yet back it comes again, only to disappear again in favour of another; which is correct, where should we place our bet? Not only that but, as always, we learn yet more about the crime world. Did I know what a holographic will is, I probably should have, I didn't, but I do now.

It is James on form again.
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VINE VOICEon 28 August 2010
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a review of the BBC radio dramatisation issued on CD, not the book itself. Perhaps if I had read the book first my memory and imagination would have made up for what is missing from this production; based on listening alone the story, though following a familiar pattern, fails to captivate. Part of the pleasure of reading P D James is in the precise and distinctive style of her writing, and this is almost entirely lost in translation into a radio play. It would have been better suited to the unabridged audiobook format (though the awful dissonance of the name of the principal victim, Rhoda Gradwyn, would remain in all its ill-chosen glory). The most curious aspect of the book is the almost entirely pointless witch-burning legend. As another reviewer has pointed out, the lawful punishment in England at least was hanging, not burning, but my main objection is that it doesn't add anything to the story that justifies its inclusion. The rest of the plot is also, as usual, a little too thin to support the number of complications heaped onto it, but fans of crime fiction will be used to that. Kate Miskin's massive crush on her Renaissance-man boss is embarrassingly naïve (his fiancée only knew the lover and the poet; she knew the policeman!); nevertheless her working relationship with the cerebral and aloof Commander is one of the classic detective pairings. So not the best of its kind, but a decent enough afternoon's entertainment for devotees of the country house murder.
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on 20 April 2009
After reading P.D James's last book, 'The Lighthouse', which was one of her best ever, my hopes were high for her latest offering. Sadly, it doesn't quite live up to 'The Lighthouse', the pace is a little slack at times and it doesn't succeed in creating the claustrophobic atmosphere that so successfully pervades most of James's crime novels. The ending was a definite anticlimax, and not entirely plausible, and the subplot involving a rape felt entirely unnecessary. However, it is still a cut above the average crime novel, and James's depiction of her characters remains as vivid as ever. Hopefully she'll be back on form with her next book, I'll certainly be buying it.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 9 February 2009
The Private Patient is the story of the investigation into the murder of a patient staying at a private medical clinic in the English countryside. The first quarter of the book precedes the murder, and the remainder is about the police investigation of the crime. The book starts quite slowly, with a lot of background on virtually every character (whether central or not), but the atmosphere of foreboding holds your attention and the momentum picks up once the investigation begins.

This is not a thriller. It's about the painstaking business of a murder investigation: laborious research, false leads, conflicting accounts and an emphasis throughout on procedure. In many ways it is reminiscent of the novels of Agatha Christie (right down to the setting in a remote manor house). P D James has lavished the novel with an immense attention to detail, especially in the descriptions of the locations and characters. The result is very satisfying, although somewhat let down by a far-fetched and overly complex resolution.

This is the first book that I have read by P D James. From reading other reviews, I gather that this is not one of her best, but it's a very English and literary read which I enjoyed very much. The central detective, Adam Dalgliesh and his team have apparently appeared in no less than 13 other books, but it made no difference to this reader to be meeting them for the first time.
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on 23 April 2009
What a pleasure to read a well-written whodunnit, with characters that are painstakingly and minutely observed and dissected on the page.It is undeniable that PD James has a good eye for characterisation and a real talent for breathing life into her creations, undeniable also that her eye is not a compassionate one. I have often thought that the world she depicts isn't the world I would like to live in.Too many highbrow intellectuals who spend so much of their time despising lesser beings that it is little wonder they should get themselves murdered.But it is good in this day and age when we are expected to weep on command and when tear-jerker books are everywhere around us to find some clean, analytical and yet evocative prose that proves that a good character needn't be a kind or humane one to be a fascinating specimen to read about.And in The private patient we do find a good many whose foibles are ruthlessly exposed, whose complex personalities make excellent reading marerial. I really found her depiction of the investigative journalist, whose murder is going to bring about the collapse of the private clinic ,compelling to say the least.
My only concern is the end. I didn't see much point in leaving some of the threads unravelled. It would have been neater to tie the knot of the story completely rather than tying Dalgliesh to the somewhat tiresome Emma.
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Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )|Verified Purchase
With P D James you rarely get more than a glimpse of the violence and her books are all the better for the under-statement. Adam Dalgleish is soon to be married to Emma when he is instructed to take over a case involving the murder of an investigative journalist in a private clinic in Dorset. Rhoda is not a popular lady and there are several possible suspects and motives.

All the characters are well drawn with their own crosses to bear and many have secrets which they do not want revealed. Dalgleish, Kate Miskin and D S Benton quickly uncover more than they bargain for and another murder takes place. But is it linked to the first? I enjoyed this and found the end touching and appopriate. This is one of her best in my opinion. Will it be the last Dalgleish mystery?

The book has been adapted for radio and comes on two audio CDs. I think I might have enjoyed it more if I hadn't read the book first. The sound effects and the music were very good and the acting was too. I felt the story didn't really lend itself to a radio adaptation partly because a lot of what was going on needed to be explained in monologues from the characters themselves or by the narrator. If you haven't read the book then the audio version is probably good to listen to but I thought the book was better.
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VINE VOICEon 19 November 2010
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Although I have read some of P D James' detective stories this is the first time I have heard the story transferred to a play on the radio. I have to admit I was disappointed and thought that, for me, it did not move mediums well. The story was good enough but at the end of my listening, it seemed to me that the jigsaw did not fit well and some of the pieces had to be squeezed into their place for it all to make sense.

Adam Dalgleish and his side kick, Kate Miskin appear to work well enough together although there to me was no sign of a good partnership. I assume the idea of introducing the personal life of a detective into a story is so that it gives an insight into the way they work and how they solve the mystery. In this case Miskin's erstwhile lover is a side track too far although I guess the idea of Dalgleish's intended coming to be with him is `sweet' but why?

So I assume if you are a devotee of Dalgleish you will enjoy listening to the CDs but for me, pleasant enough on a boring journey.

[Review by Shirleyanne Seel]
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on 6 December 2008
I've read everything that P D James has ever allowed to be printed and look forward to each new book with interest. This time, however, I found myself spending time in the company of a frowsty and pedantic old aunt listening politely while she tells the same old tale time and again. The novel is set in a strange, historic building, with a bunch of disagreeable and disparate characters, all of whom have some sort of motive and some connection to the victim: exactly like the last few books. In fact, I can barely tell the difference. P D James is now writing to a formula: her descriptions are mechanical and clipped; her plot is predictable and incredible; her new characters are all obsessive compulsive nutcases and her enduring characters barely evolve from one novel to the next. As Adam Dalgleish steps into the certainty of unending joy (yes, really!) on his marriage to Emma, I feel it's time for me to move on to an author who has enough respect for the reader to abstain from trotting out the same old same old.
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