P.D. James served in the forensic and criminal justice departments of the Home Office until her retirement in 1979. She was made a Life Peer in 1991. Her many detective novels include Cover Her Face, An Unsuitable job for a Woman, Death of an Expert Witness, A Taste for Death, Original Sin and A Certain Justice, many of which have been adapted for television. She lives in London W11.
A Victorian mansion situated on a lonely cliff along the English coast. Guests, welcome and unwelcome, gathered for a long weekend. A dark and stormy night. A shocking murder in a locked room. James combines all the elements of the classic English detective story in her first Adam Dalgliesh mystery since A Certain Justice (LJ 11/1/97). Asked by a wealthy businessman to investigate the "accidental" death of his adopted son Ronald, a student at a small theological college in East Anglia, Dalgliesh willingly returns to St. Anselm's, where he had spent happy summers as a teenager. But what was a casual investigation turns into official police business when the archdeacon, another weekend visitor, is found brutally murdered in the locked church. Is his killing related to Ronald's death or to the recent fatal "heart attack" of the housekeeper who discovered Ronald's body? Or was the archdeacon murdered because he threatened to close the college down? In their usual methodical and careful manner, Dagliesh and his team, Detective Inspectors Kate Miskin and Piers Tarrant, seek answers and a murderer. Despite the too-obvious red herrings and plot contrivances, this is still an enjoyable read to be savored on chilly evenings with a cup of hot tea. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/00.] Wilda Williams, "Library Journal" Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
"'P.D. James is one of the national treasures of British fiction...Each new book gives pleasure.' Malcolm Bradbury, Mail on Sunday"
Baroness James may have turned 80, but neither she nor her dogged Scotland Yard detective Commander Adam Dalgliesh (last seen in 1997's A Certain Justice) shows any sign of flagging in this superb whodunit, with its extraordinarily complex and nuanced plot and large cast of credible characters. When the body of a young ordinand, Ronald Treeves, turns up buried in a sandy bank on the Suffolk coast near isolated St. Anselm's, a High Anglican theological college, it's unclear whether his death was an accident, suicide or murder. The mystery deepens a few days later when someone suffocates Margaret Munroe, a retired nurse with a bad heart, because she remembers an event 12 years earlier that could have some bearing on whatever's amiss at St. Anselm's. Enter Dalgliesh at the behest of Ronald's father, Sir Alred, who's received an anonymous note suggesting foul play in his son's death. It isn't long before another death occurs, and this time it's clearly murder: late one night in the chapel, somebody bashes in the head of Archdeacon Crampton, a hard-nosed outsider who wanted to close St. Anselm's. Dalgliesh and his investigative team examine the complicated motives of a host of suspects resident at the college, mostly ordinands and priests, slowly unveiling the connections among the various deaths. Illegitimacy, incest, a secret marriage, a missing cloak and a valuable altar triptych are just some of the ingredients in a case as contrived as any Golden Age classic but presented with such masterful ease and conviction that even the most skeptical readers will suspend disbelief. This is a natural for PBS Mystery adaptation. (Apr. 19) Forecast: With a 300,000-copy first printing, this BOMC main selection is sure to race up the bestseller lists. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.