Originally published in 1971, this is the fourth Adam Dalgleish novel from the pen of P.D. James. Two trainee nurses are killed in quick succession at a country training hospital, one in front of all her class mates. Dalgleish of the Yard is called in to solve the murders. A simple set up, but James' writing and plotting makes this an absolute joy. The story is multilayered, with a plethora of well drawn characters who may or may not have done it. We follow Dalgleish and Sergeant Masterson as they peel back the layers of obfuscation to get to the root of the mystery. James throws in a few red herrings, and by the end of the bok I had been convinced at one time or another that every single main character had done it. There was a point I was even starting to suspect Dalgleish!
James writes in an erudite fashion and with an obvious love of language. There were a couple of times I had to get a dictionary as her vocabulary is far greater than mine! She draws characters and situations vividly, and in a few of the big set pieces I was hanging on the edge of my chair. Her characters, and the way she describes their thoughts and motivations, are beautifully put across. Dalgleish in particular is a great creation, and it is interesting to see him through both his own eyes and those of people around him. It's a well written mystery which I was sorry to come to the end of.
Michael Jayston's reading is simply masterly. I have to confess to having been a fan of his since I saw him playing the Valeyard in Dr Who more years ago than I care to admit to. His voice is deep and full of colour, with a richness that makes this reading so easy on the ears. He manages to distinguish each character with just a slight inflection of his voice, not having to resort to any outrageous vocal contortions or accent. He has a rhythm that neatly builds up the tension, and is in turns light and dark as the action dictates. When reading Masterson's dancing interrogation I was halfway between pity for the lady and laughing at the ridiculousness, there were also times when he really made me feel the tense and frightening atmosphere. It's not many narrators who can get me so emotionally involved in an audiobook. It's a voice I could listen to all day.
The set is on 8 CDs, held in a spindle case. The reading clocks in at over 8 hours. It's an excellent reading of an excellent book, 5 stars.
This review is for the audio version of P.D.James' `Shroud For A Nightingale' read by Michael Jayston.
"The young women of Nightingale House are there to learn to nurse and comfort the suffering. But when one of the students plays patient in a demonstration of nursing skills, she is horribly, brutally killed".
I have quite a few P.D.James' audio sets and to be honest, I prefer them to reading her books, which, very good as they are, I find a little hard going. However, with the narration of the wonderful Michael Jayston - who could make reading the contents of a sewing kit sound riveting - it's a marriage made in heaven.
The story begins with a particularly nasty death and as the number of suspects increase, Adam Dalgliesh has his work cut out in this very exciting thriller packed with secrets and scandal. I really enjoyed it.
One last word about Michael Jayston; you are never in doubt when listening to the reading as to which character is speaking, how he manages to do this so seemingly effortlessly is testament to his brilliant gift as an actor.
An excellant and compelling read. The author seems to be able to write an incredibly complex novel - and keep the reader hanging on until the end. Working in a hospital myself, it is obvious that the story was very well researched and brings back the old memories of Schools of Nursing! As the plot thickens, I think that even the most seasoned of crime readers would not be able to solve this one alone!
I'm a big fan of P.D. James' books and love Michael Jayston reading them. With Shroud for a Nightingale, he does another grand job, adding an aloof intelligence to Dalgleish that is missing from the tv series (except Martin Short, who I think was very good).
This is one of her earlier books and as such is less sophisticated than some of her later work, compared to say Devices and Desires or Death in Holy Orders. It's more like a well written Agatha Christie in terms of plot and tone. If you're a P.D. James fan I think you'll enjoy it; if you're new to the author I'd suggest starting somewhere else.
A common gripe with audio go audiobooks - having 8 CDs on one spindle can be quite frustrating. I know it probably saves money but it can be very tiresome getting disc 8 out with 7 discs on top of it.
This is only my second venture into the world of PD James and I'm not sure I'll both again. First time I have met Adam Dalgleish and although he is an intriguing character I didn't get to know that much about him, probably need to visits early books for that. The story was interesting but took a while to get into the story and get hooked. It was a interesting problem, how was nurse murdered in front of a so many witnesses and then the second death, murder or suicide? I glad I stuck with it though as the solution was extremely good although the epilogue fairly predictable. What would have made it better is if there was something to indicate when the story was set as it would have made more sense.
This is the fourth book in the Adam Dalgliesh series. I have recently been re-reading these novels and, although I have enjoyed the previous books, this certainly represents a seeming increase in ability and confidence in the writing and storyline. “Shroud for a Nightingale,” is set in a nurse training school and P D James worked for the NHS for many years, so it is an environment she would have been extremely familiar with.
The story begins with Miss Muriel Beale, an Inspector who is setting out for the day of the John Carpendar Hospital inspection. Her first impression, on arriving at the impressive Nightingale House, is that it is highly unsuitable for a nurse training school. However, the inspection begins with a demonstration by the student nurses and, during this, there is a death. When another student nurse is killed, Adam Dalgliesh is called in to solve the crimes.
This is an assured mystery, with a closed community and a great cast of characters; from the arrogant surgeon, Mr Stephen Courtney Briggs to super efficient matron, Mary Taylor and the Sisters and Nurses who live and work in Nightingale House. There is little privacy in Nightingale House and Dalgliesh soon gets to hear of the affairs, petty squabbles and secrets that abound in the hospital. As he delves into the past of the inhabitants of Nightingale House, he uncovers the truth, and James gives us an assured, intelligent mystery with a great range of suspects and motives.