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The Private Patient (Inspector Adam Dalgliesh Book 14) [Kindle Edition]

P.D. James
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (176 customer reviews)

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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

National Bestseller

Cheverell Manor is a beautiful old house in Dorset, which its owner, the famous plastic surgeon George Chandler-Powell, uses as a private clinic.  When the investigative journalist, Rhoda Gradwyn, arrives to have a disfiguring facial scar removed, she has every expectation of a successful operation and a peaceful week recuperating.  But the clinic houses an implacable enemy and within hours of the operation Rhoda is murdered.   Commander Dalgliesh and his team are called in to investigate a case complicated by old crimes and the dark secrets of the past.  But Before Rhoda's murder is solved, a second horrific death adds to the complexities of one of Dalgliesh's most perplexing and fascinating cases.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In James's stellar 14th Adam Dalgliesh mystery (after 2006's The Lighthouse), the charismatic police commander knows the case of Rhoda Gradwyn, a 47-year-old journalist murdered soon after undergoing the removal of an old disfiguring scar at a private plastic surgery clinic in Dorset, may be his last; James's readers will fervently hope it isn't. Dalgliesh probes the convoluted tangle of motives and hidden desires that swirl around the clinic, Cheverell Manor, and its grimly fascinating suspects in the death of Gradwyn, herself a stalker of minds driven by her lifelong passion for rooting out the truth people would prefer left unknown and then selling it for money. Beyond the book's central moral concern, James meditates on universal problems like aging (the amorphous flattening of self) and the government's education policy, which targets 50% of the young as university-bound while ensuring that another 40% are uneducated on leaving secondary school. Against her relentless intellectual view of our dying earth, James pits the love she finally grants Dalgleish—sufficient to reinvigorate hope and faith so rare in both fiction and reality today. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Both P. D. James and Adam Dalgliesh, both in their 80s, have aged like fine wine. Critics agreed that if The Private Patient, a closed-room mystery, is not among the best in the series, it nonetheless outranks most crime fiction. James brings her usual intellect to bear on this novel: literary references and philosophical discussions; an elegant, leisurely style; a highly atmospheric setting; suspicious distant relatives; and meaningful coincidences. Reviewers diverged, however, on the characterization and plotting. Some thought the characters were psychologically complex, while others thought they—along with the plot—were "reduced to a kind of box-ticking" (Guardian). Finally, Dalgliesh didn't seem completely present—perhaps in anticipation of his imminent retirement and marriage.
Copyright 2009 Bookmarks Publishing LLC

Product Details

  • File Size: 556 KB
  • Print Length: 364 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0307455289
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1 edition (November 18, 2008)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0018QUCLW
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,503 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
131 of 137 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of her best November 19, 2008
PD James fans are in for a treat in this finely crafted murder mystery. The set up is familiar: a murder occurs in a closed community; it looks like an inside job, which means there are only a handful of suspects -- but that doesn't make it easier for AD and his usual team to crack the case.

James gives us great characterization -- the opinions, desires and weaknesses are gradually revealed as the plot proceeds, and no character is superfluous. We learn more about our favorite characters: AD and Emma Lavenham are planning their wedding, Kate Miskin has broken up with Piers and Benton is developing into a more interesting character.

At the same time, James' weaves in a gorgeous portrayal of the Dorset countryside, making it part of the fabric of the storyline. Having lived there for a couple of years, this book perfectly captures the images, sounds and even smells of one of the most beautiful parts of England.

The plotting is intricate with many layers. Even if you guess whodunnit, there are layers upon layers of devices and desires so that at the end, everything has fallen into place, meshing perfectly with the characters and revealing hidden depths.

Without giving the end away, PD James also finishes up several character storylines. If she were never to write another book, the series would have reached a satisfying conclusion with this great work of fiction. A real treat and immensely enjoyable.
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61 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best things get better with age... November 20, 2008
This is not P.D. James's finest mystery novel.
That said, even something that is a notch below this wonderful writer's prime still stands head and shoulders above most of what is being produced by the vast majority of her peers. Her writing, her careful attention to detail, her descriptive powers have only improved with age.
So, too, have the deductive skills of Adam Dalgliesh, many decades after he made his first appearance in the novels penned by this doyenne of crime. He remains as intriguing and occasionally enigmatic figure as ever, although James gives us more carefully-judged glimpses into his inner life than I can recall in any previous novel.
In this outing (hopefully not his final one...), Dalgliesh investigates one of his classic conundrums: a murder that could only have been committed by one of a closed circle of suspects. (That backdrop, typical of James's mysteries, enables her to delve deeply into character and motivation, which is what, together with her writing, transforms this from an ordinary whondunnit into a fabulous read.) Rhoda Gradwyn has finally decided, at the age of 47, to have the disfiguring scar on her face removed at the manor house/clinic run by a noted plastic surgeon. The operation is a success -- but the patient dies. It's murder, and Dalgliesh and his team are summoned to find out who had the most compelling motive to want this muck-racking journalist dead.
It is a mark of the strength of James's characters that we feel compassion for everyone from the victim -- hoping to leave behind some of her internal scars along with the visible one on her face -- to the murderer.
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111 of 121 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 46 Years And Counting.... November 18, 2008
In Cheverell Manor, an exclusive cosmetic surgery clinic on the remote Dorset moors, a patient has been murdered. Not just any patient: Rhoda Gradwyn was an investigative journalist, a purveyor of private secrets and sensational scandals for the "yellow" media. Anyone might have wanted her dead, given the opportunity, but Cheverell Manor is locked and guarded, reducing the suspect list to the odd group of eccentrics who were with her at the time. There are about a dozen of them--doctors, nurses, administrators, staff, and one other patient--and they all have something to hide. Fortunately for the cause of justice (and unfortunately for the killer), Commander Adam Dalgliesh of Scotland Yard has been sent out from London to look into the matter....

Some things just get better with age, and P. D. James's wonderful chronicle of Adam Dalgliesh is one of them. We first met him in 1962's COVER HER FACE, and THE PRIVATE PATIENT is his 14th adventure so far, making this the longest-running current British mystery series. There are indications throughout this story that it may be the last Dalgliesh novel. Let's hope and pray that it isn't. There's no other detective like Adam Dalgliesh, and there's no other mystery writer like the great P. D. James. Highly, highly recommended.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A sad farewell February 20, 2009
It pains me to give anything by the incomparable P.D. James a rating this low, but it's a measure of my disappointment. Other reviewers have mentioned the tedious repetition, the unnecessary PC excursions, the lack of focus and coherence, and, most painful of all, Dalgliesh's descent into bland irrelevance. What was most unsatisfactory, however, was the treatment of the only intriguing character in the book - the victim, who was, after all, the title character. It is as though the author began writing one book, lost interest, and decided to write another book altogether. And while Cyril Hare is one of my all-time favorite British mystery writers, I found the use of one of his books as a plot device to be very awkward.

Unlike some reviewers, though, I have no problem with "Spring," the last section of the novel. In what seems to be an affectionate farewell to Dalgliesh et al., James grants her characters some relief from the gloom she has forced them to inhabit for so many years.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 8 days ago by Jeffrey Watkins
3.0 out of 5 stars Did not hold my interest
"The Private Patient" by P.D. James..

This had all the elements of a good mystery by an excellent author in a faithfully followed series... Read more
Published 10 days ago by Ellen Rappaport
3.0 out of 5 stars entertaining but expected more at the end
Too much unnecessary detail and too many characters confusing sometimes. But I kept reading because I was interested in the story.
Published 15 days ago by Phgmex
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Engrossing! Well written.
Published 19 days ago by Mary L. Fangio
5.0 out of 5 stars I thoroughly enjoyed this novel
'The Private Patient' is clever, sensitive and enthralling. The characters are so fully developed as to seem totally and utterly real. Read more
Published 21 days ago by melody
4.0 out of 5 stars I'd recommend it.
I think this is a recent P D James novel. I have only read two others before this one. It held me throughout but I found myself thinking it was a shade too long and the last few... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Rev Julian Duckworth
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Enjoyed reading it.
Published 1 month ago by Katherine Lahti
2.0 out of 5 stars the private patient , a review .
This book needed to be two books. It just seemed to go on and tried to cover way too much ground.
Published 1 month ago by Ellyn
4.0 out of 5 stars Swan song?
You have to be impressed when you learn P.D. James wrote this book in her 80s. And it is quite good. This my first P.D. James. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Bohdan Hodiak
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Love anything by PD James,she is such a clever writer.
Published 1 month ago by Martin W.Friendship
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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.

Photo credit Ulla Montan

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the private patient
Thank god I'm not the only one! I get why she killed the 1st victim and why- that's clear. But who the hell was she covering for in making sure the will's forgery wasn't discovered- the solicitor? But that doesn't make any sense. It seems everyone agreed it couldn't have been proven one way... Read More
Dec 18, 2009 by R. Wetzel |  See all 7 posts
Review of British version of this book
Thank you for posting this review. I've looked forward to this latest from P.D. James for many, many months. PD appeared at the St. Hilda's mystery conference in Oxford in 2007 and is such an impressive speaker, and an extremely nice woman, as well. I've been a fan for years and am happy to hear... Read More
Sep 24, 2008 by G.M. Malliet |  See all 12 posts
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