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Death of an Expert Witness (Adam Dalgliesh) Paperback – November 13, 2001


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Frequently Bought Together

Death of an Expert Witness (Adam Dalgliesh) + A Taste for Death (Adam Dalgliesh Mysteries, No. 7) + The Black Tower (Adam Dalgliesh Mystery Series #5)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; 1st Scribner Paperback Fiction edition (November 13, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743219627
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743219624
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,062 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Time The reigning mistress of murder.

People P. D. James is "the greatest living mystery writer."

From the Inside Flap

Dr. Lorrimer appeared to be the picture of a bloodless, coldly efficient scientist. Only when his brutally slain body is discovered and his secret past dissected does the image begin to change. Once again, Chief Inspector Adam Dalgliesh learns that there is more to human beings than meets the eye -- and more to solving a murder than the obvious clues. --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

More About the Author

P. D. James is the author of twenty previous books, most of which have been filmed and broadcast on television in the United States and other countries. She spent thirty years in various departments of the British Civil Service, including the Police and Criminal Law Departments of Great Britain's Home Office. She has served as a magistrate and as a governor of the BBC. In 2000 she celebrated her eightieth birthday and published her autobiography, Time to Be in Earnest. The recipient of many prizes and honors, she was created Baroness James of Holland Park in 1991 and was inducted into the International Crime Writing Hall of Fame in 2008. She lives in London and Oxford.

Photo credit Ulla Montan

Customer Reviews

I am a fan of P.D James.
Diane Jekins
The plots of her books build up in a way that one cannot foretell the conclusion till the very end.
Annie
I love the way she develops the characters, and the many layers of the plot.
Lisa

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

89 of 90 people found the following review helpful By Gary F. Taylor HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 3, 2002
Format: Paperback
P.D. James' work occasionally collapses under its own weight as the author strains to combine psychological novel with crafty murder mystery--but DEATH OF AN EXPERT WITNESS shows the writer at her best, creating a memorable setting in rural England, a host of very believable characters, and a complex plot, with all aspects of the work coming together in seamless fashion.
Dr. Lorrimer is a forensic scientist employed at a police laboratory, well respected by the scientific community and a bastion of authority in the witness box. Unfortunately, he is also a singularly unpleasant man: bitter at being passed over for promotion, petty in his dealings with underlings, vindictive in his personal relationships. So it is hardly surprising when he is murdered--but the circumstances are something of a shock: he is clubbed to death in the middle of his own laboratory, a situation that seems to indicate one or more of his co-workers is involved. And Chief Inspector Dalgliesh has an abundance of suspects from which to select.
James' detective Dalgliesh is a rather dour creation, and in some James novels he can become a tiresome companion--but here James balances his darkness against the demands of the overall novel to considerable effect. The result is a stylish, atmospheric work with an intelligent plot and a satisfying conclusion--a book to keep mystery fans sitting up all night. Recommended.
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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Laurie Fletcher VINE VOICE on May 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is an old P.D. James that I had somehow missed when I read her continuously in the mid-1990s. Although I love the James character Cordelia Gray, who appears in all of the "Unsuitable Job for a Woman"-type mysteries, my favorite James character is Inspector Dalgliesh. Since BBC/PBS did a series of "Mystery" episodes years ago based on the Dalgliesh character, I have him firmly fixed in my mind as the troubled Inspector (aren't they all?) who is also a brilliant poet and lover of all things fine in life. This book is a Dalgliesh book, not his best (that would be "A Taste for Death" or perhaps "Shroud for a Nightingale"), but even the worst Dalgliesh (I can't think of one) would be better than the best of most other people. This one takes place at a forensic laboratory where criminal and other evidence is processed and gives us a bit of a glimpse into how the Brits do Crime Scene Investigation (CSI). These are country people, not slick American city types, and that's OK. The countryside hides lots of interesting characters who have all sorts of motivations. Keep in mind that this was first published in 1986 and the world has changed rather tremendously since then!
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By dfink@dmagic.com on November 27, 1997
Format: Paperback
The first 60-65 pages were difficult to get through, because the main character is absent from them. When he does enter, Inspector Dalgleish is not developed nearly as much as he is in other books. We learn very little about him in this book. On the other hand, the search for the murderer is straighforward and interesting. There was the sense that enough clues were provided to the reader to identify the guilty party.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By RCM VINE VOICE on September 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
P.D. James has established herself as one of the definitive mystery writers of her generation and has established Adam Dalgliesh as one of the premier detectives within the literary world. 'Death of an Expert Witness' is a classic example of James' intelligent writing and thoroughly engaging plot lines that keep the reader guessing up until the end. Surely this is one of her best Dalgliesh mysteries.

The expert witness in the title refers to Dr. Edwin Lorrimer, a much respected forensic biologist who leads a solitary life in rural England. Although admired by colleagues for his work and intelligence, Lorrimer is severly disliked as a person. The introductory book introduces us to several characters that inhabit Chevisham and their various reasons for disliking Dr. Lorrimer - and perhaps even their motives for killing him. When he is found dead in his laboratory, all signs point to someone on the inside, and Adam Dalgliesh is called in to piece together the mystery surrounding his death.

The cast of characters is well written and believable; their supporting roles are thoroughly realized and move the plot along at a brisk pace. Dalgliesh is a master at tracking the little things that move humans to murder and the reader follows in his footsteps, searching for the clues even as he seeks them out. As usual, there is a hint of melancholy in Dalgliesh's actions and in the novel's bittersweet ending; the reader has come to empathize with the vivid characters who may or may not be guilty.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 29, 1998
Format: Paperback
Though it pales in comparison with James' more recent work, DEATH OF AN EXPERT WITNESS, one of the best of her early novels, deserves to be judged based on its own merits. This is an excellent detective novel with interesting, believably drawn characters and an intriguing setting. James' descriptions of the goings-on at a forensic laboratory make the story even more engaging and realistic. The plot is complex, moving steadily toward the sharp climax, and the writing is, as usual, flawless. A great read.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Dai-keag-ity on March 23, 2006
Format: Paperback
I find P.D. James' stories adapt better to television than they do novels. She is a fine writer and I admire the heck out of her ability to render a story's setting as important (and usually moreso) than any of the characters who inhabit the spaces of her creations. However, in this novel, as in the three others I've read, I felt slightly bored because it was as if the settings, being so lovingly, artfully described, overpowered the events and cried out for adaptation to the screen, and simply failed when confined to the single dimension of the flat page. James is a better screen writer than a novelist. She tells a fine story and tells it with imagination, but I can't help but confess, I find her books a little slow moving and dull. Here I wanted to find out more about the crime lab and its experiments. I also wanted to follow the life of the young girl who is the featured character at the very start, but alas, she drifts into the background soon after the opening pages, and we don't encounter her again except as a prop at the very end. I think Death of an Expert Witness needed a few more sub-plots and deviations from the main story. It was too little mystery and too much verbiage. Sorry...
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