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The Private Patient Paperback – November 3, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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.
There is no shortage of suspects, including Sister Flavia Holland, the head nurse, Helena Cressett, the general administrator, Lettie Frensham, her deputy who is in charge of the office, Sharon Bateman, a young woman who performs odd jobs, and Robin's cousins, Marcus and Candace Westhall. Marcus is a surgical assistant and Candace is a former university teacher who helps out in the office. Also in residence are Dean Bostock and his wife Kimberley, both chefs. Unless an outsider committed the murder, which is unlikely, one of these people took advantage of Rhoda's helplessness to end her life.
The novel begins in a leisurely manner, with James delineating the personality and history of each character and depicting the setting where the main action is to take place. James is at her best in her analysis of dysfunctional families, romantic entanglements, greed, and emotional insecurity, any of which can drive a person to act self-destructively.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Absolutely one of my favorites. Own the entire collection of all books published by her. Great detective stories.Published 3 days ago by Gina Redford
Sooo long, so many characters but so little developed... Disappointed. I read other books by PD James which were great but this one is just fastidious... UghPublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
This was the first book I read by P. D. James. She is a brilliant storyteller in the British tradition. Her style is different from American writing.Published 2 months ago by Donna Levy
I'm pretty sure that I have met the Commander before in video format because Roy Marsden's face is so familiar to me. Read morePublished 2 months ago by R. T. Watson
This was book to sludge through. The minute and irrelevant descriptions were tedious. Doesn't anyone edit books anymore?Published 3 months ago by Samantha
Investigative journalist Rhoda Gradwyn - who's exposed her fair share of secrets - schedules plastic surgery to remove a disfiguring facial scar. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Barbara Saffer
Below par in plot development. Motives for the suspects were not thoroughly explored.Published 5 months ago by Layla
An excellent piece of writing. A very engaging story from start to finish. Great work from a master storyteller! I highly recommend it.Published 6 months ago by Kindle Customer