Customer Reviews


105 Reviews
5 star:
 (47)
4 star:
 (26)
3 star:
 (17)
2 star:
 (10)
1 star:
 (5)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolutely superb crime book!
Having read quite a number of P.D. James novels, this one definitely stands out as one her best Adam Dalgliesh books so far. Just about everything is well-timed: the plot is neither too simple nor wildly exagerrated, the number of characters not too large, the attention to detail just right without turning the book into a 1,000-page tome, and above all, the book is full...
Published on 16 Jan 2007 by Michael Thaidigsmann

versus
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Murder on a remote island
I've always enjoyed reading P.D. James mystery novels, though I haven't found the time to read the last few. Thus, I came to The Lighthouse unfamiliar with the current status of some of the characters. I had some exposure to Kate Miskin, Adam Dalgliesh's assistant, but I had never heard of Francis Benton-Smith. One aspect of James' stories that...
Published on 14 Nov 2005 by David Roy


‹ Previous | 1 2 311 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just what you expect from P D James, 18 Jan 2006
By 
This review is from: The Lighthouse (Hardcover)
Excellent read. The character introductions really set the scene and fix the personalities in your mind - it fits the plot and works for this book - all without giving anything away...
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, 19 May 2006
By 
ads "ads" (Nottingham, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Lighthouse (Paperback)
On first reading this book I found the preface a bit tedious having already read "The Murder Room," James unlike many authors of the genre manages to highlight how close each character is to the murder, and Combe Island intensifies through the secluded setting. The imagery that she uses enables this book to be simultaneously a great and gripping novel as well as rather theraputic with the description of the sea and the idyllic surroundings. As usual we see Dalgleish and Kate, and has now developed a cogent intergration of these characters and how situations in the book reflect their lifes back home, the author again trying to emphasis the secludeness, this is the main device in this book and makes the reader feel weary and apprehensive about the next chain of events .

Conclusively, The Lighthouse is a fast paced novel, James never fails to provoke an adreneline rush. which is why I feel this book deserves five stars. Perfect holiday read however this is not light hearted and may evoke you to feel the cold of the cornish sea air.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars what's so great?, 4 Feb 2006
By A Customer
This review is from: The Lighthouse (Hardcover)
I've never been able to quite grasp why everyone thinks P.D. James is so good. To me, she has two strengths: an ability to create atmosphere, and an ability to create sinister characters with interesting pasts (the murder victim is a triumph!), spin them into a mystery. That's it. Even these standout areas become samey when you've read a lot of her books, though. Her plotting can be trite, her solutions dull, her detail pointless and dull. Detail in the right way is fine, but I don't need to know every crank that turns in a character's head.
Another weakness is Dalgleish, a protagonist so dull his name is the only thing that stands out. He's a poet, but you wouldn't think it. His thought patterns are philosophical but ultimately uninteresting. He is a poet who seems to lack any form of passion at all - and his love-interest just, inexplicably, seems to make him even duller! He's a cold-fish to me, and I fail to get his appeal. He's sensitive, correct, but that doesn't make him interesting in any other way to me. And when something interesting finally happens to him in this book, James proceeds to ship him out of the story and let his relatively annoying subordinates take over!
It might be that James sticks to her formula too much. I feel like I've read this story so many times before (apart from the absolutely fabulous Innocent Blood, which is by far her finest hour). James is praised for extending the possibilities of the genre, bringing it "higher", almost, but this is just false sentiment. There's nothing special here. Simply giving detail and using occasionally long words doesn't mean this can stand up to literature of J.M Coetzee, or mean it's as good a crime novel as Ian Rankin or Ruth Rendell can be capable of writing. She doesn't write crime novels that stand up to "literature", she writes crime novels that can be duller than both. Too, she's praised for her "social examination", but this just isn't true either. Again, just words critics use. What does James ever tell us, really? Her social scope is so small (middle/upper class people in unrealstic situations, any lower class characters who crop up tend to be murderers or otherwise not very nice)
I might be being harsher than I intend, I'm certianly capable of enjoying James's books on occasion, but I most certainly don't feel she's up to her reputation, that's all. The Lighthouse is, I think, much the same as most of her others books. If you've liked them, you'll like this.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Murder Mystery, 17 Oct 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: The Lighthouse (Hardcover)
This book was a lot like my favorite author's books, Agatha Christie. It was an excellent mystery novel that was full of thrills and chills. I was unable to put it down. It read smoothly and easily and the plot was exceptional. I would recommend this book to any mystery/crime lover. I also would recommend David Demello's The Killing Game, another great murder mystery.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars `The Lighthouse.' A beacon for murder., 1 May 2013
This review is from: The Lighthouse (Kindle Edition)
As the author of Banshee (A Dermot O'Hara Mystery), a novel set on the coast of Kerry in Southern Ireland, I have a fascination with that part of us that exists between solid land and restless ocean and how it influences our character and behaviour. I also love lighthouses and islands so PD James was always going to have a head-start in winning my affection with this work! Throw in Cornwall where I've spent a happy holiday or three and I'm completely won over. James' clever twist is to heighten the intensity of the plot by dropping her creation Dalgleish on an island where everyone knows each other or at least thinks they do. Are they a captive audience, trapped victims or a community of killers? This device also serves to raise the expectation that it must be easier to catch a murderer on an island and keeps the dramatic tension piling up the whole way through. My only, minor, quibble is, could one island have so much misfortune in such a short time? Her attention to detail in the background and behaviour of her characters make this an excellent read. And it's very brave to choose a famous writer as the victim! Highly recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dame James: Unbeatable!, 20 Jan 2006
By 
Billy J. Hobbs "Bill Hobbs" (Tyler, TX USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Lighthouse (Hardcover)
It's not as it appears to be, Adam Dalgliesh ponders. The erstwhile, inimitable, and highly respected detective (and poet) of Scotland Yard is dispatched with his two team members to investigate a death on the island of Combe.
Having danced around and with MI-5 in levels beyond most policemen's pay grades, Dalgliesh knows there's more to this scene than meet the eye.
In Dame P.D. James' thirteenth Dalgliesh book, readers can (rightfully so) expect "more of the same" from both the author and her policeman--intriguing story, excellent characterizations, and riveting plot. It's vintage P.D. James and long may she rule.
Combe is an island off the Cornish coast, with a long and rich history of isolation, peace, and even intrigue. Famed--and cranky, even impossible--novelist Nathan Oliver is found hanged at the landmark Combe lighthouse. Scotland Yard (and Dalgliesh) is taking no chances, as Combe is a haven for secrecy, especially in high diplomatic circles (and Dalgliesh knows of such circles from previous encounters).
And in traditional James style, there is much, much more than meets the eye. The dead man is far from being beloved, even by his own daughter who's on the island with him, as they ponder his next novel. Character after character, it is revealed, has more than a basic motive to kill him. The police waste no time in ascertaining that Oliver's death is not a suicide but a murder. But who's the guilty one?
Dalgliesh and his two assistants (Miskin and Benton-Smith) set out diligently--and, of course, brilliantly--and as the pace picks up noticeably, clues fall into place and, needless to say, Dalgliesh wins again. But that's a foregone conclusion to the multitude of James fans. Adam doesn't fail. Period.
That said, of course, the brilliance of James' writing always leaves one in awe; already readers are ready for the next installment of the Dalgliesh genre. No one's better than James.
Still, aside from the "whodunit" approach, James manages to keep the pace with the nuances and subtleties of the characters' personal lives. For many readers' satisfaction, James has toned down Dalgliesh's "love life" (after all, who really cares--just get on with the man we all love to watch brilliantly--and sensitively--solve the cases, one by one.). James is superb and doesn't need the inane distraction here. The inter-play between Miskin and Benton-Smith are more appropriate, as Dalgliesh's subordinates come and go anyway.
An excellent read (Don't forget your dictionary, however, as James, as ever, gives us an adventure, too, into extending our vocabulary. Just keeping up with her, even with a dictionary, is a joyous ride! Her literary allusions are also pleasures to read.). (BillyjHobbs@tyler.net)
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars P.D. James - The Lighthouse, 25 Oct 2005
By 
RachelWalker "RachelW" (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Lighthouse (Hardcover)
P.D. James is one of world's most respected mystery-writers. She is one of the last, and certainly the greatest, of the world's writers of classic detective mysteries. She's the last because the genre has largely gone out of fashion (mostly due to the limited range of things which can be done within it), and she's the greatest because she alone still stands diligently by it and does find new and innovative things to flex the form. She single-handedly imbues the golden age detective story with a muscular and persuasive strength that means her variations, almost alone, are able to stand up to the new forms of crime fiction. Not just that: any kinds of fiction.
The privately owned island of Combe, just off the Cornish coast, has been turned into a place of rest and sanctuary for people - necessarily rich ones - who wish to escape the stresses of their normal every-day lives. As such it is insular, offers almost unlimited privacy, and has a very small staff. Immediately, here is the classic James setting: isolated, full of history, slightly sinister, coming complete with a small clutch of interesting suspects. It's obvious, then, that when acclaimed - and abrasive - writer Nathan Oliver starts trouncing around the island antagonising the other residents and guests, that a murder is going to occur some-time soon... And so it does. One misty morning Oliver is found hanging from the top of the island's lighthouse. And there's no shortage of people who may have wanted him dead...
Nathan was not a popular character. Manipulative for the purposes of his fiction (he loves to observe in order to write... the worst of these instances when he tipped retired priest and ex-alcoholic Adrian Brodey off the wagon and into turmoil) and selfish, he's made himself no fans. He's been trying to oust elderly Emily Holcombe, last of the Holcombe family, from her cottage and is demanding it for himself. He's caused a heated fracas with another visitor, Dr Mark Yelland, a research scientist a character in Oliver's new book bears a strikingly unpleasant resemblance to. He's forbidden his daughter's marriage to his copy-editor, and has created a whole host of other petty enmities. The question, though, is any of them important enough to be a motive for murder? Or is it something else entirely?
Despite James's huge acclaim and popularity, The Lighthouse is not her greatest book. She never fails to create and interesting mystery peopled with interesting suspects, and hasn't here; she never fails to write intelligently and well, and hasn't here; she never fails to engage or provide enjoyment, and hasn't here. But this novel is less inspired than many of her greatest mysteries (A Certain Justice, Original Sin, Innocent Blood), and to an extent there's a feeling of her going through the motions of the form she has made her own: creating the batch of intriguing suspects, giving them each a hazy and interesting past, coming up with a mysterious and claustrophobic setting in which to house the mystery, and giving that too an interesting and hazy past (Combe island has been home to everything from pirates to German soldiers), and then boxing everything together with a nasty murder and an elusive mystery. It's possibly just me, but before she's always managed to provide something extra as well, on top of the mystery, (the philosophical aspects of theology in Death in Holy Orders, for example, or even just an incisive portrait of an enclosed society and the people in it) but here that doesn't really seem to be there. There's a mystery, a bit of history, and that's pretty much it.
Dalgliesh, too, is less engaging than in past outings (and he's never been my favourite detective anyway; he's a bit of a dull fish, really). He's a bit vague, a bit distracted by his [annoying] love-interest, Emma Lavenham, whom he proposed to in the previous book. He does far too much moping for my liking. True, it makes him a rounded and realistic character, but he's not really as interesting while doing it (though, as a positive, it's good to see this new, uncertain side of him).
The two great successes of the book are the portrait of Combe, which is atmospheric as always (even if it's not as grippingly sinister as usual), and the character of Nathan Oliver, who completely dominates the book even though the victim. He's not a pleasant person at all, but he's a completely fascinating one, and it's down to the force of his personality that the reader stays interested during the middle of the book when things get a bit dull. Worry not, though: there are one or two pivotal happenings at about page 200 that breathe new life into the story completely.
Overall, The Lighthouse is a success, but not a big one. It seems a little perfunctory at times, but there's certainly still enough here to make the thing worth buying. Longstanding fans will buy and enjoy as ever, but newcomers should look elsewhere. As ever, James provides a good mystery with a sensible solution, though. I thought I knew whodunnit, but they died on page 250.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A disappointment, 23 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Lighthouse (Kindle Edition)
This is the first P.D. James novel that I have read, and as an occasional visitor to Lundy Island (on which Combe is clearly based) I was very much looking forward to it. However, the story never really held my interest and finishing it was quite hard work.

The first thing that started to grate on me was the tedious level of description of the various accommodations on Combe Island. Every time one of the police officers went into a room we were treated to a lengthy description of the view from the windows, where the tables and chairs were, where the drinks cabinet was, the type of pictures on the walls, the light fittings, and so on. It was just boring. We even got to hear about Adam Dalgleish's reaction to discovering the contents of his fridge, whereas of course most blokes would have been happy to discover a Cornish pasty and a bottle of beer (OK, I jest a little but you get the point).

The dialogue can best be described as functional, but there were some passages where I just thought to myself "people don't talk like that". The author also didn't succeed in making me relate to any of the characters, and there was no real sense of a "character arc" for any of the main figures, except perhaps Benton.

Finally, the revelation of whodunnit was rather unsatisfactory. There was never any sense that the police were getting closer to a solution; the answer just suddenly pops into someone's head and from thereon in it is just a matter of trying to chase down the killer.

I know P.D. James has a big reputation and maybe I'll give another one of her books a go, but this one just didn't work for me on any level.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, 8 July 2011
By 
Kim (Dublin, Ireland) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Lighthouse (Paperback)
I wish P.D. James had been as prolific as Ruth Rendell in her career. I could read her forever. A wonderful read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I wouldn't put "The Lighthouse" among James' best, 20 Dec 2007
This review is from: The Lighthouse (Paperback)
P.D. James' novels combine elements of the classic mystery with in-depth examinations of character and incident found in literary novels. In "The Lighthouse," the lives and concerns of the police officers mean as much to the story as the stories behind the victims and the suspects. To the poetry-writing police inspector Adam Dalgliesh, this mean fretting not only about the case, but about the resolution of his relationship with Emma Lavenham, to whom he proposed by letter in James' previous novel.

So there's no shortage of suspects for Dalgliesh to investigate. The victim, a noted novelist, tried to evict the old woman who lives with her menacing butler, wrote his next novel using the character of a scientist pressured by a failing marriage and animal-rights groups, and did something particularly nasty to the former priest who left the church after being caught drunk one too many times. In introducing each character, James spins passage after well-written passage, dissecting their character, faults and dreams in a way they, being very, very British, would never acknowledge or even hint at publicly.

Yet, I cannot like "The Lighthouse." Respect the writing, yes, admire certain passages when her characters reflect on death and love, even approve of the way she structures the mystery and its solution. But James' intense prose is rarely relieved by a change in pace. The characters whose lives and conflicts are minutely described in the beginning are hastily resolved at the end.

But against that stands the fictional island of Combe, "multicoloured and as sharply defined as a coloured photograph, its silver granite cliffs towering from a white boiling of foam." Its rocky, windswept shore, charming old cottages and the prospect of spending one's days in peace and tranquility is a seductive prospect. While I wouldn't put "The Lighthouse" among James' best, it can be a pleasant place to stay for awhile!! I would recommend reading Tino Georgiou's bestselling novel--The Fates--if you haven't yet!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 311 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The Lighthouse
The Lighthouse by P D James (Paperback - 7 May 2009)
6.29
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews