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The Lighthouse [Paperback]

P.D. James
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 25 2006
A subtle and powerful work of contemporary fiction.

Combe Island off the Cornish coast has a bloodstained history of piracy and cruelty but now, privately owned, it offers respite to over-stressed men and women in positions of high authority who require privacy and guaranteed security. But the peace of Combe is violated when one of the distinguished visitors is bizarrely murdered.

Commander Adam Dalgliesh is called in to solve the mystery quickly and discreetly, but at a difficult time for him and his depleted team. Dalgliesh is uncertain about his future with Emma Lavenham, the woman he loves; Detective Inspector Kate Miskin has her own emotional problems; and the ambitious Sergeant Francis Benton-Smith is worried about working under Kate. Hardly has the team begun to unravel the complicated motives of the suspects than there is a second brutal killing, and the whole investigation is jeopardized when Dalgliesh is faced with a danger more insidious and as potentially fatal as murder.

This eagerly awaited successor to the international bestseller The Murder Room displays all the qualities that lovers of P. D. James’s novels the world over have come to expect: sensitive characterization, an exciting and superbly structured plot and vivid evocation of place.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

If—as some reviewers have speculated—The Lighthouse marks the end of James's 13-book mystery series about policeman/poet Adam Dalgliesh, at least in this artful and gripping audio version the commander is going out in style. Gifted veteran actor Keating rises above some familiar plot elements and obvious padding to create a convincing atmosphere set on an isolated private island where burnt-out leaders in the fields of business, politics and art go to rest and recuperate. Keating delineates James's many characters sharply and smoothly—from the top men in the police and foreign office who initiate the investigation through the three very different detectives who show up to probe the mysterious death of a noted and much-disliked novelist and find themselves in the middle of another murder. Dalgliesh is even calmer than usual, much of his mind still back in London with his new love interest. Insp. Kate Miskin is also preoccupied by the attentions of a former colleague, and Sgt. Francis Benton-Smith—his eye on the prize of promotion—sees Miskin as a hurdle in the road to success. Dedicated James fans should find this pleasant listening. Simultaneous release with the Knopf hardcover (Reviews, Oct. 17). (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*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 Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Character Counts July 15 2006
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Like many readers, I found The Murder Room to be a disappointing book. Had the inimitable P.D. James lost it?

That concern is happily banished by reading the latest Adam Dalgliesh novel, The Lighthouse.

On an isolated island in the Channel, retainers and a few guests enjoy tranquility and seclusion. A mysterious death occurs, and A.D. is called in to check things out. It seems that "higher persons" are about to retreat to Combe Island, and the unpleasantness needs to be sorted out before that can happen.

A.D. is jolted out his is plans to spend a rare weekend with Emma Lavenham, the woman he has proposed to. Detective Inspector Kate Miskin finds herself faced with the prospect of having a new relationship interrupted. Sergeant Francis Benton-Smith is nervous about working under DI Miskin.

Next, we zoom to the island to meet the staff, permanent residents and visitors. They are an eclectic lot as such lands' end locations tend to attract. Miss Emily Holcombe is the last member of the family that deeded the island for its unique purpose. One visitor has come to take refuge from weighty family and public pressures. Another visitor has a hidden agenda. Some of the staff are like flotsam and jetsam, having washed up on Combe's shore when the mainland no longer seemed right for them. Two would like to escape as quickly as possible. At the center of these diverse persons is a world-famous novelist, Nathan Oliver, who was born on the island. Oliver is unable to experience emotions himself and prefers to stage crises so he can observe how those who do have strong emotions behave and speak. With Oliver are his daughter, who keeps house for him, and his own editor, who's on hand to help finish a new novel.

Against this backdrop, the death occurs. A.D.
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5.0 out of 5 stars See the light March 20 2006
THE LIGHTHOUSE is a great book. I'm rather choosy about mysteries. Anything experimental or slangy --- especially authors who strive too visibly to write "more" than a mystery --- turns me off; James is a favorite because she is a master at taking the classic formulas to a higher level and burnishing them until they glow. Not only is "The Lighthouse" an exciting whodunit, it also is a deeply psychological novel in which the reader gains insight into the personalities of Dalgleish, Kate, and Benton. The central theme of the novel is the intersection of the past and the present, and the impossibility of anyone ever being completely free of his history. This rich and beautifully developed story shows that P. D. James, at eight-five, could give a few lessons to her younger counterparts in the field of mystery writing. Normally one for something a tad more "literary", say, like McCrae's KATZENJAMMER, I found THE LIGHTHOUSE to be a hoot! Entertaining beyond all belief!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book! Oct. 30 2005
By A Customer
I could not put this book down, an absolutely engaging read. Full of twists turns and surprises. The suspense and thrills were nonstop. If you're looking for a good book then look no further, this is the one. I also suggest recommend David Demello's The Killing Game, another excellent suspense.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great mystery writer. June 29 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
PD James' well worth re-reading all her Dagleish and company books. Still an awesome series of mysteries. I hope she lives and writes forever!
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