In this issue:
The Private Patient by Baroness P.D. James holds our interest by the discovery of not just the who-dun-it, but the complex motives behind the actions. Anyone who loves dogs and brilliant descriptive writing will find Sawtelle rewarding. Wallace Stegner's Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs demonstrates that as a writer of style and elegance, he has few equals. Rancho Weirdo by Laura Chester contains humor in these tales that is integral, not incidental, and they are wonderfully irreverent
THE PRIVATE PATIENT (An Adam Dalgliesh Mystery)
by P.D. James, © 2008
Published by Alfred A. Knopf; Hardcover, 352 pp
Any mystery fan familiar with P.D. James’s books will dive into her most recent offering with delighted anticipation and high expectations. Baroness James is renowned for her craft, producing books that have intricate plots and interesting, fully-developed characters.
By virtue of their reappearances in the series, Commander Adam Dalgliesh, the members of his staff, and his lady love, Emma, are chief among those characters. But perhaps it is the tangential characters that most attest to James’s genius, for they, too, are given dimension and humanity within the brief framework of her story. James relates their histories, discloses their secrets, and reports their quirks with economy and skill, bringing their personalities to vivid life.
In a James book, it is always unlikely that the reader will be able to spot the criminal off the bat, but even after Dalgliesh’s investigations give enough detail to reveal the perpetrator, our interest is held by discovering not just the who-dun-it, but also the complex motives behind the actions.
It would be impossible to discuss Baroness James and her works without noting that the woman is now almost 90 years old, and is obviously as compos mentis as ever, since, for the most part, this brand new book comes up to its promise. It may not be the very best one she has written, (don’t expect me to assign ranking to such bounty), but it certainly delivers an interesting read. Some of the references and characters may be confusing to anyone who hasn’t read the earlier books, because James includes, rather awkwardly, a couple of extraneous subplots involving a pair of Lesbians (from a previous book), and refers to past romances involving Dalgliesh’s staff members.
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