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The Murder Room (Adam Dalgliesh Mystery Series #12) Paperback – November 9, 2004

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Frequently Bought Together

The Murder Room (Adam Dalgliesh Mystery Series #12) + The Lighthouse (Adam Dalgliesh Mystery Series #13) + Death in Holy Orders (Adam Dalgliesh Mystery Series #11)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (November 9, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400076099
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400076093
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (139 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #244,192 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Neither the mystery nor the detective present James's followers with anything truly new in her latest Adam Dalgliesh novel (after 2001's Death in Holy Orders), which opens, like other recent books in the series, with an extended portrayal of an aging institution whose survival is threatened by one person, who rapidly becomes the focus of resentment and hostility. Neville Dupayne, a trustee of the Dupayne Museum, a small, private institution devoted to England between the world wars, plans to veto its continuing operation. After many pages of background on the museum's employees, volunteers and others who would be affected by the trustee's unpopular decision, Neville meets his end in a manner paralleling a notorious historical murder exhibited in the museum's "Murder Room." MI5's interest in one of the people connected with the crime leads to Commander Dalgleish and his team taking on the case. While a romance develops between the commander, who's even more understated than usual, and Emma Lavenham, introduced in Death in Holy Orders, this subplot has minimal impact. A second murder raises the ante, but the whodunit aspect falls short of James's best work. Hopefully, this is an isolated lapse for an author who excels at characterization and basic human psychology.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

After 16 novels, James is still able to find insular communities of professionals in which to set her crimes. This time it's the staff of a quirky museum devoted to England between the wars. The piece de resistance of the museum's collection is the Murder Room, in which are gathered artifacts from famous homicides that took place during the interwar years. Naturally, the room plays a crucial role, both as setting and as backstory, when real-life murder comes to the museum. It starts not in the Murder Room but in a garage, where one member of the family-owned museum is incinerated after being doused with petrol. That the victim was lobbying to sell the museum, over the objections of his sister and brother, only adds fuel to a fire that Scotland Yard Commander Adam Dalgleish is asked to extinguish. As always, James delves deeply into the psyches of her characters--in this case, the museum's staff--uncovering not just motives and secrets, the stuff of any crime plot, but also the flesh and bone of personality. Her novels follow a formula in terms of the action and the setting, but her people rise above that pattern, their complexity giving muscle and sinew to the bare skeleton of the classical detective story. And none so much as Dalgleish himself, who now must contend with tremors of "precarious joy" as his feelings for Emma, a Cambridge professor he met in Holy Orders (2001), force a life-changing decision. James, at 83, has mastered the trick of repeating herself in ever-fascinating new ways. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

This was the first P.D. James novel I've ever read.
Ellis Bell
James' mysteries are always well-laid out and intricately woven with a wide cast of characters.
The characters were unappealing, the plot was unbelievable.
K. Kelly

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

69 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Billy J. Hobbs VINE VOICE on November 29, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Any P.D. James is preferable to no P.D. James and while some readers may have found "The Murder Room" faint in some areas, Dame James' latest Adam Dalgleish is, well, Adam Dalgleish. How can a reader go wrong?
Granted, James has given us a new twist (Adam is in love and her traditional police procedural takes a different turn. But before one cries "soap opera," "The Murder Room" is not about Adam Dalgliesh's personal life. It is about a series of murder, a plot outline with which James is quite comfortable and her legions of fans come to expect.
Circumstances surround the undertakings (forgive the pun) of the Dupayne Museum,, a small, rather esoteric, museum devoted to the "interwar years," the period in England from 1919 to 1939. However, the rub is that the lease on the museum is about to expire and the three trustees (siblings) must agree totally on its extension or else the museum cannot continue. One brother, Dr. Neville Dupayne, is dead set (forgive the pun again) against signing; thus the demise of the museum is at hand, it appears. Quickly into the book, the good doctor is found burned alive in very suspicious circumstances and just about everyone has a motive for seeing him dead. Commander Dalgleish and his team from New Scotland Yard are called in and before this death can be solved, two others follow, all with connections to the museum.
James clearly is in charge of this narrative and, as always, controls the pace and the revelations of the investigation. Dalgleish is, as always, superb. The resolution comes not through histrionics or melodrama, but the James/Dalgleish penchant for brilliance.
Is this James' best? Hmmmm. "The best" is probably the individual reader's personal choice, as I've yet to read a "bad" James, or even a "poor" one. "The Murder Room" joins the other dozen or so Dalglieshes comfortably. It is an excellent read. (
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Dianne Foster HALL OF FAME on January 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I hate to give any book by P.D.James less than five stars, but as mysteries go THE MURDER ROOM is not one of her better books. She gets four stars from me because even on her worst days James is better than most of her fellow mystery writers.
James strength lies in her character development, and as ususal, in THE MURDER ROOM she has done a wonderful job of getting into the heads of the principle players and sharing their "secrets" with the reader. James also has a great talent for setting the stage and if you like being transported to England via armchair you should know that no one does it better--probably why the dramatized versions of her books are so well done.
However, plot development has never been James strong suit. She often has difficulty linking the murderer's personality with the motive to kill. Her characters seem like ordinary human beings, but sooner or later one of them does something horrendous which seems all out of character and "overkill" for someone who could probably figure out a better way to get on. Maybe that's the nature of murder--stupid.
However, for James, it's almost as though having created a fully rounded character she has difficulty connecting her creation with the act of committing murder. Sometimes she pulls it off, other times not. When she fails, the end is often frenetic and stretches the imagination beyond the breaking point.
I will always read James' tales because I appreciate her philosophical insights acquired over a long life lived in interesting times.
I bought the hardcover version of this book, but I am recommending to friends that they buy a used book (if they don't borrow mine), check the book out of the library, or wait for the soft cover. The price is too steep for the contents within.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By E. Griffin VINE VOICE on December 27, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The latest installment in the Adam Dalgliesh series, "The Murder Room" is classic P.D. James. As some previous reviews have correctly pointed out, there is nothing new in this book. As a reader, the appeal of P.D. James is not the search for something new, but rather the confidence of a high quality, well written mystery.
"The Murder Room" is set in a privately held, small, family museum that focuses on the interware years of 1919-39. The title refers to one room in the museum that features infamous murders from this time period. As always, P.D. James fills the book with interesting and complex characters--two dysfunctional families, loyal caretakers, mis-guided youths, and of course, New Scotland Yard. Sex, intrigue, loyalty, and of course, money, create alliances between some characters while pitting others against one another.
Although the reader knows the murderer is likely to be closely connected to the museum, P.D. James leaves the reader guessing until quite close to the end. The detailed character development, and the way the words lead the reader to envision the atmosphere of this country museum will keep you entranced until the end.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By James C. Coomer on March 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have long felt that P.D.James was the heir to Dorothy L. Sayers in constructing the intellectual murder mystery. Her characters and plots, revealed in her uncompromising formal use of the language, has set her apart from most of her contemporaries. Murder Room, however, reads as though it was written by committee. The plot and central characters are unquestionably James' but the setting and early character developments read as though they were assigned to a college literature class then edited by the author. The first one hundred pages are laden with contrived metaphors that distract from the flow of the story. It is as though Ms. James tried to expand a concise l50 page story into a 300+ page novel by adding minutia to every discriptive developmental scene. Even the avid followers of Adam Dalgliesh have difficulty recognizing their hero in this book. One understands that he is in love but he seems to stumble onto the solution of this mystery instead of painstakingly putting together disparate pieces that lead to a discovery. His personality is altered just enough so that long time readers detect a difference. Having written this, however, I concede that the conclusion (to the mystery not the book)is definately P.D.James. She puts the pieces together in ways that are both rational and revealing (though predictable)and then sends Dalgliesh in uncharacteristic emotional turmoil to thrust a letter into the hands of his lady and then stand mutely aside to await her acceptance or rejection. James could have written the ending either way and remained consistent with what we have learned over the years about Adam Dalgliesh.
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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.

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