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Death of an Expert Witness Paperback – Jan 25 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Canada (Jan. 25 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307400433
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307400437
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 2.1 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #104,348 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


"P.D. James is unbeatable." -- The Ottawa Citizen

"P.D. James is a remarkable writer." -- Ruth Rendell

"Shines with lucidity and firm intelligence." -- Newsweek

"A craftsman with a poet's vision... she not only detects evil but attempts to uncover the more elusive -- and enduring -- enigmas of the human psyche that lead to it." -- Time

From the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

"P.D. James is unbeatable." -- The Ottawa Citizen

"P.D. James is a remarkable writer." -- Ruth Rendell

"Shines with lucidity and firm intelligence." -- Newsweek

"A craftsman with a poet's vision... she not only detects evil but attempts to uncover the more elusive -- and enduring -- enigmas of the human psyche that lead to it." -- Time --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Cardinal47 on Sept. 16 2006
Format: Paperback
P.D.James' "Death of an expert witness" is an interesting mystery. The victim is Dr. Lorrimer, a well-qualified and authoritative forensic scientist. On a personal basis he is unpleasant. He is smarting from being passed over for promotion, "petty in his dealings with underlings, vindictive in his personal relationships". Adam Dagleish is brought up from London to solve the case but finds himself confronted by a multitude of suspects. Virtually everyone has a motive to get rid of Lorrimer and there are many suspect alibis.

The novel is replete with red herrings leading us to suspect first one character and then another of being the killer.

P.D. James has a first-rate reputation as a mystery writer.But Inspector Dagleish is not really my cup of tea.
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By Debra Purdy Kong TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 28 2012
Format: Paperback
The murder of Dr. Edwin Lorrimer at Hoggatt's forensics laboratory offers a particularly difficult challenge for Commander Adam Dalgleish. After all, the killer could be one of Lorrimer's colleagues, and that person would know how to destroy evidence and mislead investigators.

Death of an Expert Witness contains all of P.D. James's usual trademarks, including haughty professionals who barely have time for Dalgleish's questions and an isolated institution filled with secrets. For those who've followed my reviews of James's work this year, you'll know her novels have been hit or miss with me, partly for their sameness and lack of interesting subplots or character development. This book, however, was one of the better ones because James did a good job of delving into characters's personal lives and foibles.

There still wasn't much in the way of subplots, and I don't think Dalgleish changed at all. As usual, the story kept me guessing about the killer's identity, but it all made perfect sense in the end. This book shows why James has gained so many fans. It's an intelligent, complex puzzler exploring desperate aspects of need and loneliness.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Dec 28 2001
Format: Paperback
Two disclaimers for this review: 1, this was my first P.D. James novel. 2, I believe that Agatha Christie was the goddess of all mystery writing.
I am used to a body within the first few pages, and letting Hercule Poirot deduce things from there until the solution is provided. However, there are no bodies until 80 pages into the book, and most of the discussion includes things that Dalgliesh brings out later with witnesses anyway, making them redundant.
Also confusing was James's apparent escape from reality with character names. Some are completely absurd, like the characters names "Makepeace" and "Gotobed." Combining words into names detracts from the proposed seriousness of the situation.
This book is much heavier than a true murder mystery, and the decision comes down to this: whether you want a true murder mystery, where you follow facts and psychology in the attempt to deduce the murderer, or whether you want a deeper novel -- a P.D. James novel -- where, along with the murder, time is spent reflecting on life and the world in a more philosophical fashion.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 132 reviews
118 of 119 people found the following review helpful
A book to sit up with all night Nov. 3 2002
By Gary F. Taylor - Published on
Format: Paperback
P.D. James' work occasionally collapses under its own weight as the author strains to combine psychological novel with crafty murder mystery--but DEATH OF AN EXPERT WITNESS shows the writer at her best, creating a memorable setting in rural England, a host of very believable characters, and a complex plot, with all aspects of the work coming together in seamless fashion.

Dr. Lorrimer is a forensic scientist employed at a police laboratory, well respected by the scientific community and a bastion of authority in the witness box. Unfortunately, he is also a singularly unpleasant man: bitter at being passed over for promotion, petty in his dealings with underlings, vindictive in his personal relationships. So it is hardly surprising when he is murdered--but the circumstances are something of a shock: he is clubbed to death in the middle of his own laboratory, a situation that seems to indicate one or more of his co-workers is involved. And Chief Inspector Dalgliesh has an abundance of suspects from which to select.

James' detective Dalgliesh is a rather dour creation, and in some James novels he can become a tiresome companion--but here James balances his darkness against the demands of the overall novel to considerable effect. The result is a stylish, atmospheric work with an intelligent plot and a satisfying conclusion--a book to keep mystery fans sitting up all night. Recommended.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer
39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
Who can resist Adam Dalgleish? May 2 2005
By Laurie Fletcher - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is an old P.D. James that I had somehow missed when I read her continuously in the mid-1990s. Although I love the James character Cordelia Gray, who appears in all of the "Unsuitable Job for a Woman"-type mysteries, my favorite James character is Inspector Dalgliesh. Since BBC/PBS did a series of "Mystery" episodes years ago based on the Dalgliesh character, I have him firmly fixed in my mind as the troubled Inspector (aren't they all?) who is also a brilliant poet and lover of all things fine in life. This book is a Dalgliesh book, not his best (that would be "A Taste for Death" or perhaps "Shroud for a Nightingale"), but even the worst Dalgliesh (I can't think of one) would be better than the best of most other people. This one takes place at a forensic laboratory where criminal and other evidence is processed and gives us a bit of a glimpse into how the Brits do Crime Scene Investigation (CSI). These are country people, not slick American city types, and that's OK. The countryside hides lots of interesting characters who have all sorts of motivations. Keep in mind that this was first published in 1986 and the world has changed rather tremendously since then!
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Good detective story. Nov. 27 1997
By - Published on
Format: Paperback
The first 60-65 pages were difficult to get through, because the main character is absent from them. When he does enter, Inspector Dalgleish is not developed nearly as much as he is in other books. We learn very little about him in this book. On the other hand, the search for the murderer is straighforward and interesting. There was the sense that enough clues were provided to the reader to identify the guilty party.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
An Expert at Mystery Sept. 11 2004
By RCM - Published on
Format: Paperback
P.D. James has established herself as one of the definitive mystery writers of her generation and has established Adam Dalgliesh as one of the premier detectives within the literary world. 'Death of an Expert Witness' is a classic example of James' intelligent writing and thoroughly engaging plot lines that keep the reader guessing up until the end. Surely this is one of her best Dalgliesh mysteries.

The expert witness in the title refers to Dr. Edwin Lorrimer, a much respected forensic biologist who leads a solitary life in rural England. Although admired by colleagues for his work and intelligence, Lorrimer is severly disliked as a person. The introductory book introduces us to several characters that inhabit Chevisham and their various reasons for disliking Dr. Lorrimer - and perhaps even their motives for killing him. When he is found dead in his laboratory, all signs point to someone on the inside, and Adam Dalgliesh is called in to piece together the mystery surrounding his death.

The cast of characters is well written and believable; their supporting roles are thoroughly realized and move the plot along at a brisk pace. Dalgliesh is a master at tracking the little things that move humans to murder and the reader follows in his footsteps, searching for the clues even as he seeks them out. As usual, there is a hint of melancholy in Dalgliesh's actions and in the novel's bittersweet ending; the reader has come to empathize with the vivid characters who may or may not be guilty.
27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Lacked A Punch March 23 2006
By Dai-keag-ity - Published on
Format: Paperback
I find P.D. James' stories adapt better to television than they do novels. She is a fine writer and I admire the heck out of her ability to render a story's setting as important (and usually moreso) than any of the characters who inhabit the spaces of her creations. However, in this novel, as in the three others I've read, I felt slightly bored because it was as if the settings, being so lovingly, artfully described, overpowered the events and cried out for adaptation to the screen, and simply failed when confined to the single dimension of the flat page. James is a better screen writer than a novelist. She tells a fine story and tells it with imagination, but I can't help but confess, I find her books a little slow moving and dull. Here I wanted to find out more about the crime lab and its experiments. I also wanted to follow the life of the young girl who is the featured character at the very start, but alas, she drifts into the background soon after the opening pages, and we don't encounter her again except as a prop at the very end. I think Death of an Expert Witness needed a few more sub-plots and deviations from the main story. It was too little mystery and too much verbiage. Sorry...

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