From Publishers Weekly
British master James's 13th Adam Dalgliesh mystery, like its two predecessors, The Murder Room
(2003) and Death in Holy Orders
(2001), focuses at first on a hostile character who threatens to shatter a longstanding way of life. Acclaimed novelist Nathan Oliver incurs the wrath of his fellow residents on Combe Island, a private property off the Cornish coast used as an exclusive retreat by movers and shakers in many fields. When Oliver is murdered, Scotland Yard dispatches Dalgliesh and two of his team to Combe, where the commander checks alibis and motives in his trademark understated manner. Because the detective's new romantic attachment is more of a backstory than in The Murder Room
, it intrudes less on the murder inquiry. The solution, which hinges on the existence of an unknown child, is less than fully satisfactory and also borrows elements from some of James's recent plots. Devotees more interested in her hero's personal growth than his deductive technique will find much to enjoy.
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Last seen in The Murder Room
(2003) (*** Mar/Apr 2004), Dalgliesh is still pondering his romance, and theres still a mystery to be solved. Critics, who generally praised this 13th installment of the series, saw similarities to the plot of Agatha Christies And Then There Were None, to Jane Austens playful writing, and to Virginia Woolfs themes. Vivid character studies and intricate settings reveal Jamess eye for detailfrom descriptions of Olivers insidious personality and Dalglieshs insecurities to an intelligent game of Scrabble. James also makes references to popular literature. But there are no quick rewards for the reader interested in a fast-paced mystery or a wholly original plotexcept for the ending, which "will transfix even the most hopeless addict of potboilers" (Chicago Sun-Times
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.