A Taste for Death Audio Cassette – Mar 1991
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|Audio Cassette, Mar 1991||
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From Publishers Weekly
In her latest Commander Adam Dalgliesh detective novel, James subtly deepens the complexities of his personality, making him an ever more credible protagonist. When two bodies are discovered with their throats slashed in a London church, Dalgleish is called upon to solve the case. One victim is Sir Paul Berowne, former Minister of the Crown; the other is a tramp accustomed to sleeping in the church vestibule. It seems that these deaths may be tied to those of two young women who have recently been employed in the Berowne household. Dalgleish feels an unusual empathy in this case; he had known Berowne and sensed several parallels in their lives. This sense of compassion is one of the things that distinguishes James's novels. In delving into what she calls "the fascination of character," she makes each actor in the drama memorable. The characters here read Trollope and Philip Larkin; they are knowledgeable about architecture and art. Yet James's civilized digressions do not detract from the suspense of the plot. She does not employ horrific details for shock effect, but her step-by-step description of procedural details, particularly those of forensic medicine, totally immerse readers in the investigation. Literate readers who have not yet made Adam Dalgliesh's acquaintance should rush to the bookstores for this one. 100,000 first printing; BOMC main selection; author tour. (November 1
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
--The Washington Post Book World
"A SUPERB DETECTIVE NOVEL . . . AND A GIFT TO ALL READERS."
"Glitters with the high-gloss anxiety of a first-rate detective novel, but it goes beyond that fine achievement to another realm . . . An intricate, compassionate novel."
--The Boston Globe
From the Paperback edition. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
...If you havent read P.D. James....it might be better to start with "Death of an Expert Witness". However, for a taste of P.D. James- this is an excellent choice!
Newcomers would still enjoy it, but may miss a little of the depth of character of the key players: Adam Dagliesh, a Scotland yard Detective with his own tragic past, who is also a published poet; and Sgt Kate Miskin, newly assigned to replace Dalgliesh's previous longtime assistant, wanting to make an impression, but plagued with problems in her personal life.
As a dedicated P.D. James fan, I would say this is even a step above her usual fascinating, exquisitely crafted stories!
Beautifully written and carefully plotted as usual.
This book is notable for the wonderful glimpses into the life of Dalgliesh's Sgt.: Kate Miskin. These personal moments dont distract, but further the story, and converge with the mystery plot to create a moving and exciting climax.
James always creates characters who are complex and beautifully described, but in this book she outdoes herself. She has created a rainbow of personalities ranging from the most endearing to the most odious characters.
In brief, a well-crafted, imaginative, wonderfully absorbing mystery. Only caveat would be a fairly bloody crime scene encountered by the detectives. Hopefully this wont put you off, as James never throws in gratuitous gore or violence. This was my absolute favorite P.D. James novel. If youve heard the authors name, and want to see if you like her without starting "at the beginning": This is a great choice.
In short: If you love mysteries, and dont own this book- RUN, dont walk to the "add to shopping cart" link!
3/5/02 edited 3/19/02
Two men have been murdered in the vestry of St. Matthew's church, and found by a parishioner. One is a highly regarded Member of Parliament, Sir Paul Berowne, and the other is a local tramp, Harry Mack. Its quite obvious that the murderer is someone acquainted with Berowne, and Commander Dalgliesh spnds most of the novel tracking down leads in that direction. The suspects in the murder case are many, and most are relatives of Berowne's that have a motive for killing him: his mother, Lady Ursula; his widow, Barbara; his daughter, Sarah; his widow's lover; his daughter's boyfriend; his widow's brother; the housekeeper. Also connected are the recent deaths of to servants who worked for the Berownes- one by suicide, the other death by drowning in the Thames.
Absolutely no attention has been paid to the tramp who was also murdered- in the second half of the book he ceases to exist; this what what bothered me most about the plot, which was tedious at best. So while the double-murder plot is intriguing, its highly unnecessary. I often felt that James's prose was wandering, unfocused. James spends too much time focusing on the personal lives of Dalgliesh, Kate Miskin, and the other officers who work on the case, and less on what really matters- the solving of the case.
The book starts with two parallel stories, one in Panama and one in England.
In Panama, Willie Garvin (Modesty's loyal side-kick) runs into Gabriel and McWhirter, the two memorable bad guys from the first Modesty Blaise book. They are trying to kidnap Dinah Pilgrim, a blind girl they need because of her having a special talent. Willie saves Dinah and then a major confrontation ensues, with Modesty coming to Willie's aid and both Modesty and Willie surviving traps that should not possibly be survivable.
Meanwhile, in England Modesty Blaise has encountered Simon Delicata, an incredibly nasty villain and perhaps the scariest fictional bad guy I've ever read about. Delicata first kills an archeologist with ties to a research expedition in the Sahara Desert, and later strikes directly at Modesty's cottage in the English countryside.
In a very satisfying plot maneuver the two supposedly separate story lines merge. It turns out that Gabriel and McWhirter are in league with Delicata, and Modesty and Willie must travel to Algeria to face this trio of villains in a fight to the death. A fight that they have almost no chances of surviving against the combined force of Gabriel and Delicata.
The most fascinating thing about the Modesty Blaise books is the personality of the two main characters, Modesty Blaise and Willie Garvin. They both have an amazing will to survive and to overcome the incredible dangers they are faced with. They have fantastic fighting abilities and can be cold and deadly when necessary. But they are also warm and loving, and intensely loyal to each other and to their friends.
The quotation at the start of this review is what Modesty says to Willie near the end of the book, when they suddenly and unexpectedly find themselves once again face to face with Simon Delicata, the main villain of the story. Modesty is already seriously injured from a previous fight and unable to move, and Delicata, a cold-blooded killer, has previously demonstrated that he can easily beat Willie in an unarmed fight.
This situation, and the ensuing fight between Willie and Simon Delicata, is one of several high points in the book, and one I'll remember for the rest of my days.
Incidentally, Stephen Collier, introduced in "I, Lucifer", is back, and he and Dinah Pilgrim remain recurring figures in the remaining books in the series.
This book is a bit special in the Modesty Blaise series due to there being an interesting love story with an unexpected twist.
I'm rather hard pressed to say anything negative about this book. It's too short, like all of the Modesty books, and there's too much smoking. And, unfortunately, being the best book in the series it marks the start of the slow decline in the rest of the series.
Incidentally, I've created a "So You'd Like To" guide about the books of Peter O'Donnell, which you are welcome to read for further information about the Modesty Blaise books.
Very, very highly recommended.
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