112 of 121 people found the following review helpful
Another dark marvel,
This review is from: The Private Patient (Inspector Adam Dalgliesh Mystery) (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. It has James's distinctive signature style: precise description of rooms and things seen, careful enumeration of conversations, and hanging over it all a sort of brooding sense of life's darkness.
Though she can never restrain herself from having the obligatory pop at the Labour government (a total of 4 by page 85, but she's a Tory peer so it's not that surprising), the book is a real treat. If you are looking for the flash bang wallop of Kathy Reichs or Patricia Cornwell, look elsewhere. More for devotees of Wallander or Martin Beck, then, than Karin Slaughter.
I love PD James and I think this is a very good one. Quiet, restrained, marvellous.