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A Taste for Death [Audio Cassette]

P. D. James , Michael Jayston
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

March 1991
Two bodies, their throats cut, lie in the vestry of St Matthew's Church, Paddington. One is an alcoholic tramp; the other, Sir Paul Berowne, is a baronet and a recently resigned Minister of the Crown. Adam Dalgliesh, arrives to begin his investigation, one that will expose the darker recesses of the Berowne family history.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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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.

Review

"Splendidly suspenseful."
--The Washington Post Book World

"A SUPERB DETECTIVE NOVEL . . . AND A GIFT TO ALL READERS."
--USA Today

"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

"MARVELOUS."
--Newsweek --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars darkness in the vestry... June 11 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
It is easy to argue that the best of murder mystery writers in English over the past thirty years is P.D. James. Her wonderful prose, dark vision and immaculately rendered settings immerse the reader in complex tales of loss and redemption. I heard her interviewed on the radio once and was struck at what a comedian she was; it would never have occurred to me based on her books. Sir Paul Berowne is found dead in the vestry of a church. Adam Dalgliesh gets the case, along with two younger officers. The investigation draws the reader deep into the lives of all involved, along with images of a fading England and a particularly troubled woman police officer. This is high quality work and worth the time invested in reading. Best during a long evening in the easy chair with Oolong tea.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  67 reviews
68 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars P.D.James fans- 6 Stars! Kate Miskin up close enhances plot March 19 2002
By "lynkfri13" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
-6 Stars! Superb, intricately plotted and riveting story.
...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
44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Pinch Your Grandmother May 8 2000
By Bernard M. Patten - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Among the masters of crime writing stands P.D. James, 80 years old, read by millions, and still selling (better than ever). She got her peerage in 1991 and sits in the House of Lords as the Baroness of Holland Park, on the Tory side opposite her rival Ruth Rendell, who is, incidentally, probably the better writer. Proclaimed as the Queen of mystery, P.D. was constrained by straightened circumstances to enter the British civil service. There she worked her way up eventually ending in the Police and Criminal Law Departments of the Home Office. Along the way she has also served as a Magistrate and as a governor of the BBC. All of which experiences she brings to bear on her wonderful, entertaining, and innovative fiction. Need I remind anyone that Baroness Holland Park in 1971 invented Cordelia Gray, the world's first female private eye and showed that women can have the same intelligence, powers of observation, and deductive sense as men? A Taste for Death, her best book, takes us into the world and minds of all characters, expresses their complex beliefs, psychological attitudes, and interesting thoroughly British behaviors so that we understand why these people are taking every fatal step. Some have found PD's writing slightly flat and wordy and have thought that this book, which runs 211,000 words, could have benefited from the kindly ministrations of a good editor. But who would dare edit her? It would be like pinching one's grandmother. Personally, I like reading how London homes look on the inside and I enjoy all those hallmark details of tea preparation and descriptions of elegant and not so elegant gardens. It's like reading Barbara Pym with the additional benefit of a horrible set of murders thrown in. Yes, friends, this is crime fiction at its very best. It goes beyond that fine achievement into another realm, the redemptive realm of art.
33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not great Feb. 2 2006
By Ellis Bell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I didn't enjoy this P.D. James mystery as much as I have enjoyed other books by her, such as The Murder Room or The Lighthouse. Originally published in 1986, A Taste For Death has only recently come out in this Vintage series. This is the novel in which the Special Crimes Squad performs, and introduces Inspector Kate Miskin.

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.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Murder Mystery and Great Writing Aug. 31 2003
By David A. Riley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
James has the greatest depth in her characters of any of the detective fiction writers that I have read. In A Taste for Death a tramp and a government minister are found in a church with their throats cut. Dalgleish knew the minister slightly and felt a strong connection with him at their meetings. As the case unfolds Dalgleish finds himself drawn in far more personally than he expected, which hampers his investigation to some extent.
Apart from the mystery, this novel explores the remnants of the british class system as it crumbles, the old guard represented by Lady Ursula hanging on for grim death and Kate Miskin determined to sweep away all vestiges of her upbringing and create a new life. Neither character ultimately achieves their aim as nothing can remain unchanged, but as James aptly illustrates you also cannot just dismiss your past as though it did not take place.
James develops each character brilliantly as the story unfolds from the lonely spinster Miss Wharton who discovers the bodies, to Kate Miskin a newy assigned assistant to Dalgleish who's complicated personal life becomes tragically caught up in the case.
The book has been rated by other reviewers as both her best and one of her less noteworthy works. I found it superb and rate it up there with her best. Several reviewers also complain about the amount of detail the author goes into, in my opinion the detail is what brings the books to life, makes them believable and raises them above the mundane coffee table crime novel.
James achieves so much more than a mere who dunnit in her work, as she explores her complex characters insecurities, hang ups and emotions. In addition she always explores some new facet of English society and leaves you with something to ponder long after the book is back on the shelf. I feel James's work compares favourably with any contemporary "serious novelist" I have read recently and recommend her whole heartedly.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Taste for P.D. James March 22 2001
By Matthew A. Sackel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
In this Adam Dalgliesh mystery, a homeless man and a Baronet are found slain in the vestry of St. Matthew's Church. With this as the beginning of the novel, one can only imagine how quickly the rest of the book unravels. This is one of P.D.'s greatest novels to date. The reader wants to know what brought these unlikely companions in death together, and why did they die so tragically?
As the plot thickens, we are introduced to the Baronet's family- an elite group of Londoners who all seem ruthless enough to have committed the crime, and before the end of the story, the reader has questioned him or herself about each character, wondering if they could have "done it". This cast includes his elderly mother and his society wife, and her galavanting brother.
As the novel progresses the Baronet Paul Berowne's life is opened up. His not so clean past seems to make him the obvious target for a murderer--rumors of getting hired help pregnant, stories of his behavior leading to the suicide of yet another household staff member-and a startling article in a scandal type tabloid that points a finger at him for each of these crimes. We are also quick to find out that his extra marital relationship may play a part in his untimely demise. P.D. James leaves each of these avenues open for exploration.
In addition to the crime at hand, A.D.'s assistant Kate Miskin is having problems of her own. The subplot in the novel is tied very neatly to the plot at hand near the end of the novel, in a shocking and page turning culmination. This is not a novel to be missed.
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