From Publishers Weekly
British master James's 13th Adam Dalgliesh mystery, like its two predecessors, The Murder Room
(2003) and Death in Holy Orders
(2001), focuses at first on a hostile character who threatens to shatter a longstanding way of life. Acclaimed novelist Nathan Oliver incurs the wrath of his fellow residents on Combe Island, a private property off the Cornish coast used as an exclusive retreat by movers and shakers in many fields. When Oliver is murdered, Scotland Yard dispatches Dalgliesh and two of his team to Combe, where the commander checks alibis and motives in his trademark understated manner. Because the detective's new romantic attachment is more of a backstory than in The Murder Room
, it intrudes less on the murder inquiry. The solution, which hinges on the existence of an unknown child, is less than fully satisfactory and also borrows elements from some of James's recent plots. Devotees more interested in her hero's personal growth than his deductive technique will find much to enjoy.
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*Starred Review* At 85, the remarkable P. D. James has written one of her most moving novels. As she has done throughout her career, she sticks closely to formula in the shape of her mystery story but injects her characters with a range of emotions and subtlety of motive that lifts the proceedings well beyond the level of a puzzle and its solution. In the past, she has often isolated her group of victims and suspects by homing in on a particular profession, but this time she uses an even more classic mystery device: an isolated location. Combe Island, off the Cornish coast of England, was once a pirates' enclave but is now used as a retreat for powerful people who need time to recharge their batteries, making it all the more shocking when one of the guests is found murdered. Commander Adam Dalgleish is called to the politically sensitive scene to investigate. The action plays out pretty much as it has in 19 previous James' novels: Dalgleish and his team--Inspector Kate Miskin and Sergeant Francis Benton-Smith--interview the finite group of suspects, making deductions along the way until the commander puts all the pieces together. But it's what happens between the lines that gives James' stories their punch: the tension between Miskin and the ambitious sergeant; the added frisson that comes from Dalgleish finally having a personal life but being unable to move forward with his lover, Emma; and, of course, the personal lives of the various suspects, all of whom James treats with unmatched depth and care. Each new Dalgleish novel should be treated as a gift by mystery fans everywhere. Bill OttCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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