Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Private Patient by P.D. James

It has been a while since the blog has been updated. Unfortunately, the demands of preparing for the trip, Latin class, learning the Promethean board, and the general busy life, have usurped reading time. I was very conflicted about the new James book. Do I spend an undue amount and order it from the U.K or do I behave in a fiscally responsible way and wait for the U.S. release. I did manage to wait and promised myself that it would be my Thanksgiving read. And it was. P.D. James is the ultimate English mystery writer, IMHO. The Private Patient was worth the wait.

Set in the English countryside, the book details the last days of
Rhoda Gradwyn, an investigative reporter, who goes to Cheverell Manor, a private clinic, to undergo plastic surgery. Commander Adam Dalgliesh is called to investigate with his team. The suspects are assembled in one place and include the manor staff, the surgeon and medical team, a close acquaintance of Rhoda's and another patient. Each has something to hide and we are left to figure out the real motive. Woven into the story is a subplot of a lynching that took place 350 years ago and the mysterious haunted stones that stand behind the manor house. With the help of assistant Kate Miskin, Dalgliesh deconstructs the alibis and motives to reach the solution.

James writes with such a command of the English language that one is tempted to read the novel out loud just to hear the sheer beauty of the way the words are woven together. Her plots are craftily woven and always have the requisite number of twists and turns to keep the reader on the edge of the seat. The Private Patient didn't disappoint and although a number of series story lines are seemingly wrapped up in the book, I remain hopeful that James will have another offering in the future. There are not many who can put together language, plot, and characters like she can.

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