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The Private Patient [Paperback]

P.D. James
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 31 2009
With all the qualities that P. D. James’s readers have come to expect: a masterly psychological and emotional richness of characterization, a vivid evocation of place and a credible and exciting mystery.

When the notorious investigative journalist, Rhoda Gradwyn, books into Mr. Chandler-Powell’s private clinic in Dorset for the removal of a disfiguring, long-standing facial scar, she has every prospect of a successful operation by a distinguished surgeon, a week’s peaceful convalescence in one of Dorset’s most beautiful manor houses and the beginning of a new life. She will never leave Cheverell Manor alive. When Adam Dalgliesh and his team are called in to investigate the murder – and a second death occurs – even more complicated problems than the question of innocence or guilt arise.

From the Hardcover edition.

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The Private Patient + Death in Holy Orders: An Adam Dalgliesh Mystery + The Lighthouse
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“Although she tackles contemporary social issues with relish, James will still use old-fashioned narrative devices dating back to the golden age of crime fiction. That’s because they still work.” –Calgary Herald

“Her skill and vitality are not diminished . . . The Private Patient is classic James.” –Scotsman

“This is a book about the way we live now . . . James brings a stinging clarity to the complicated goings-on in the Dorset countryside” –The Sunday Times

“Elegantly phrased, plot-driven, multi-layered and laced with menace.” –Observer

“P. D. James — in the eyes of many admirers the world’s finest living crime novelist.” –The Windsor Star

From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

P. D. James is the author of 18 books, most of which have been filmed for television. Before her retirement in 1979, she served in the forensics and criminal justice departments of Great Britain’s Home Office, and she has been a magistrate and a governor of the BBC. The recipient of many prizes and honours, she was created Baroness James of Holland Park in 1991. In 2000 she celebrated her 80th birthday and published her autobiography, Time to Be in Earnest.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A MODULATED, PRECISE READING Nov. 28 2008
By Gail Cooke TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
London born actress Rosalyn Landor is the perfect choice to read a P. D. James mystery. The daughter of an actor/broadcaster Landor grew up with reading aloud, story telling, and that love for the spoken word is reflected in her voice performances. Her readings are well modulated, precise as she carries listeners along to what is in this case a surprising denouement.

What lover of mysteries has not read or at least heard of P.D. James? The author of 19 books she spent some 30 years in the British Civil Service and recently celebrated her 88th birthday. One of her many gifts to readers is the creation of Commander Adam Dalgliesh, a consummate investigator who is often given to Holmesian discussions as he presents his thoughts to various characters and suspects.

With The Private Patient we visit an impressive old house, Cheverell Manor in Dorset. Once a family home it was sold of necessity to an eminent plastic surgeon, George H. Chandler-Powell, who now operates it as a clinic for the privileged. Rhoda Gradwyn comes to him for the removal of a disfiguring facial scar. She's an investigative journalist (her work is similar to that of a reporter for a supermarket tabloid in the USA). She's with us only briefly as she's soon dead of strangulation, a murder committed by an unknown person wearing latex gloves.

While the crime most definitely has affected Rhoda, it also affects the good doctor as who would want to come to a clinic where a murder has just occurred? Commander Dalgliesh is summoned to investigate. He has a great deal to look into considering the clinic staff, the departed's boyfriend, and others who were a part of her life for good or ill.

Once again James treats us to her vivid descriptions of setting and extensive vocabulary - the perfect word for every thought and situation. A pleasure to read - do so slowly and savor this author's unique style.

- Gail Cooke
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The private patient, a clever thriller June 17 2009
An excellent thriller. The author keeps us until the last word thinking that what we think being the thruth will come out. But she had something else in mind. Extremely well written, I felt the writing assurance of an expert writer, which I am convinced is the result of long hours of editing. Her perfectionism guaranties rewarding reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Under the knife Jan. 10 2009
Most people who die because of plastic surgery have a bad reaction to the anesthetic or something like that.

Few plastic surgery patients are strangled. But that is the crime du jour of the fourteenth Adam Dalgleish novel, a quietly tangled web of motives and suspicious characters in a classic mystery setting. But P.D. James elevates your average whodunnit with her refined brand of police investigation, as well as the bittersweet meditations on aging, love and loneliness.

For the past thirty years, investigative journalist Rhoda Gradwyn has had a chasmic scar on her face. But now she decides to have it repaired by the eminent plastic surgeon George Chandler-Powell, at his beautiful old manorhouse. But mere hours after the surgery, Rhoda is found strangled, and Adam Dalgleish is called in to investigate who in the Manor wanted her dead.

Turns out that there are a number of motives, some more coldly rational than others -- Rhoda's boytoy, the mentor of a girl Gradwyn destroyed, and a young woman with a gruesome past. With plenty of people who could have done it, Dalgleish must unravel who actually did do it, and the secret motives that others are keeping hidden. But he may not be in time to prevent more deaths...

"The Private Patient" is a book preoccupied by the passage of time. Lonely futures, sad pasts, the "flattening" of aging, the world changing and people losing their family homes. Even Dalgleish's impending wedding has a bittersweet edge, since it heralds changes among his friendships. Yet P.D. James makes sure to remind us that love and friendship can overcome the sadness of change and loss.

And with the sure hand of an experienced writer, James spins a solid whodunnit with plenty of red herrings and a wealth of suspects.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Adam Dalgliesh fans will feel wonderfully rewarded by a deep and long look at his work in diligently investigating this case while attempting to balance his life to leave room for his love of Emma Lavenham. You'll end the book wondering about how that balance might change in future books. These thoughts in many ways make for a better mystery than solving the murder.

The Private Patient is more about love, its effects, and the harm it costs to not receive and give it . . . than about crime, detection, or justice. As with The Lighthouse, Baroness James has created deeply etched new characters while turning her on-going characters into ever-more real seeming personalities.

While many novelists are only too quick to paint a victim as harmless or harmful and bump them off, Baroness James gives us a complex portrait of a woman, investigative journalist Rhoda Gradwyn, whose youth scarred both her face and her psyche. As a result, she uses her slashed face as a mask to hide behind . . . and to keep people away on her own terms. She becomes good at ferreting out the secrets of others and displaying those hidden scars for a large pay day.

With the death of her abusive father and her mother's plan to remarry, Gradwyn realizes she doesn't need the scar any more and seeks one of the most expensive and highly regarded plastic surgeons, George Chandler-Powell, to repair her face. But she decides that there might be stories involved, and her meddling brings forth counter forces that lead to her death.

Strangled in her patient suite, steps from the nurse's bedroom, it begins to appear that an insider is involved. But no one remembers meeting Gradwyn before. What's the motive?

AD is dispatched to work on the case shortly after a call comes from number ten.
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