Top positive review
on December 16, 2003
This is another classic P. D. James mystery novel. At an age where many writers would be happy to lay down their pen (or switch off their computers) she still comes up with enthralling stories, vivid characters and plots full of surprises. Her acute observation of the human mind, foibles and reactions has sharpened with time.
The story is set in an eccentric little museum in London and the Murder Room houses exhibits relating to murders committed during the 1920's and 1930's. The focus is on a trunk that once contained the body of a murdered girl. The family who owns the museum is divided over whether to close it or continue to operate it, but some of the activities in the museum are more - shall we say "unusual" - than others and many people would be negatively affected if it closed.
Introducing characters in a mystery novel is difficult to do well, but James does it better than anyone. The reader is never left trying to remember if Neville was the doctor or the curator. She also introduces us to the peripheral characters who are affected by the crime, fleshing each one out rapidly, but leaving a clearer impression than most writers make with their main characters.
This is a mature writer, still at the peak of her power to draw readers into strong stories and to make them care about characters who may be a little off-beat, but never the usual caricatures of the English. There is a richness of texture in this book. The investigators, chiefly Adam Dalgleish and Kate Miskin have gained some maturity and a measure of understanding of themselves as well as their suspects.
I can recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a classic English mystery.