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on 12 January 2017
This is not one of P D James's better detective novels. It's a bit hum-drum, although some of the scenes in it, of a village preparing for and participating in its Summer fair, evoke pleasant memories of past times. Hopefully, they are still played out in some places, but without the murder. This in one of the final three of James's works that remain for me to read, which sadly is something of a relief because lately they all seem to arrive in tiny print, with little space between lines, and so tightly bound that one has to practically break the spine in order to read the extremities of the lines. Saving on paper, or postage? Either way, it makes reading them a chore rather than a pleasure.
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on 4 December 2016
I had heard so much about this author , including a programme on her Great life on the series on Radio 4 podcasts ( which I recommend highly) and her character Chief Inspector Dalgliesh that I thought I had to give this book a read.
It's not the best detective novel I have read and the famed character of Dalgliesh didn't come jumping out of the pages at me. This is the first novel of the series and maybe this is a character that matures and grows on you. The book was well written with nice convoluted character plots which kept up the interest so I will carry on reading the series in sequence and find out what all the fuss is over this detective!
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on 18 August 2015
Martingale Manor House is the family home of generations of the highly respected Maxie family, who annually host the church fête in its grounds. This year, however, the fête is destined to deviate far from the normal, smooth if boring routine, and after it life at Martingale will never be the same.

This first novel by P. D. James I thought not as flawless as her later ones, in that her word-craft was less honed, and I felt her Chief Inspector Adam Dalgliesh made one or two faux pas he never would have done today. Nevertheless, the yarn is woven with her usual skill and complexity, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
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on 14 September 2017
Light on characterisation in the main although Dalgliesh comes across well. My main criticism is the very poor format and word errors in this Faber provenanced kindle edition. I say word errors rather than spelling as some of the words are simply wrong. All over the place with inverted commas for speech. It did stop me in my tracks on occasion.
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on 16 June 2015
This the first of P D James's detective novels. It is simpler than the later ones and has more rough edges. Her changing point of view eliminates suspects unnecessarily, and the character of Dalgleish has not gathered his later idiosyncrasies (not too bad thing, perhaps). It is also very condescending towards the working class characters, something that took me by surprise and which I found distasteful.
I chose the Folio Society edition and that did give real pleasure. The illustrations are superb, and in my copy - in excellent condition despite being printed in 1982 - the print, paper, and binding are a joy.
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on 20 March 2013
This is the first PD James detective novel I have read. I'm not a great reader of crime fiction generally and when I do read in the genre I tend to go back to the old ones by writers like Christie or Sayers. This novel is written very much in that style, which is one reason that I enjoyed it. It is not quite as expertly plotted - this is a first novel I believe - and Dalgleish is not yet developed as a fully fledged character but it was good fun nevertheless. I intend to read more of the series and this was a good introduction. (Be warned though, the Kindle edition, which is the one I read, has an appalling amount of typos. This does not affect my rating by the way as I believe in these reviews being about the books not the individual editions. )
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on 12 October 2015
Unsurprisingly I found this novel a bit dated,but I plan to read the Adam Dalgliesh novels in order having enjoyed another one I read called The Murder Room, which I enjoyed very much. It was still a good read and I was surprised "who dun it" so on that basis I would still recommend it
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on 30 July 2015
I find I am constantly learning new words reading PD James - great if reading on Kindle as can look them up. I found this not very well paced b and found myself not caring who killed her half way through! Enjoyed it though. She's had written better I felt but enjoyable.
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on 10 November 2015
Disappointed that I couldn't get into this book more. It just didn't grip me. PD James has such a good reputation that I will give her one more go in the hope I can discover a whole new set of reading!
Cry From The Grave
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on 29 September 2015
I was looking for a good detective book, something not gory and with a good story but have read most of the modern writers and wanted something more nostalgic (I love Morse and Lewis and Midsomer Murders on the TV) so thought I'd try an older generation of books, and I'm loving this, and will read all of the P.D. James's books now as I'm well and truly hooked.
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