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The Private Patient (Inspector Adam Dalgliesh Mystery) Paperback – 2 Apr 2009

3.5 out of 5 stars 208 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (2 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571242464
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571242467
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2.9 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (208 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 908,701 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Brilliant. . . . A jewel in [James's] crown." "Pittsburg-Post Gazette"

""

"No one is better than James at maintaining this tension between the cozy and the frightful." "The Washington Post"

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"[James is] a master. . . . Nothing is as it first appears." "The Boston Globe
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"[I]intricately plotted and suspenseful.... James' clear-eyed, often sardonic prose describes rooms and people exactly as she sees them." "Providence Journal"

"Elegant . . . compelling. . . . Continues the James tradition. . . . She comfortably tackles timeless concerns." "Chicago Tribune"

"The ghost of literature past haunts P.D. James' newest novel. . . . The novel's pointed descriptions, its gothic settings, and its theme exploring the insidious legacies of family and class violence suggest Charles Dickens may have rested a hand on James' shoulder while she wrote this terrific literary mystery." "Milwaukee Journal Sentinel"

"James is a wonderful writer." "Chicago Sun-Times"

"James is in excellent form. . . . [She] offers her readers intelligence, wisdom, dry humor, knowledge both deep and wide-ranging, humanity, compassion, understanding and a wonderful way with words. . . . James is one of Britain's greatest living writers." "St. Louis Post-Dispatch"" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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By emma who reads a lot TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 25 Aug. 2008
Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Hardcover
I wish I could give 5 stars to this, probably the last PD James mystery featuring the stalwart yet sensitive Commander Adam Dalgleish. Most of the book was 5 star material, with the winning PD James formula of isolated setting, cast of improbably named suspects, a gruesome murder or two, and meandering setting description with words like "minatory", "gule" and "subvention" cropping up early and often to establish once again the author's literary bona fides. (Emma wears not a jacket, but a jerkin, as we are reminded three times in three pages.) The final 80 pages were however a disappointment, a rushed flurry of events, interviews with newly found characters appended in too-neat resolution. The ending seemed hardly connected to the build-up that preceded it. If a mystery lacks a satisfying conclusion, all the previous story-telling seems futile. Sorry to say, I have seen a loss of momentum in PD James's last several mysteries. She takes pains to keep up with the times, but her unnecessary subplot about lesbians is so painstakingly tolerant, so jarring, so entirely lacking in narrative reality. The effort to be open-minded is always just that - an effort, and the display of faux acceptance self-consciously calls attention to itself because it rings false and extraneous to the story. Poor Dalgleish, as I remember from earlier novels, was always more interesting as a solitary poet/police officer. Since he acquired a continuing romantic interest, the incongruously young Emma Lavenham, he has become too comfortably uxorious. His depth has dissipated. The detective sidekicks, Miskin and Benton, while again politically correct, are never as interesting as was Dalgleish at his philosophical best. Dare I add that the dialogue is simply not believable? Only in a PD James novel do characters speak in such perfectly shaped paragraphs.
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