Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Private Patient

I woke up this morning determined to read the last 50 or so pages of The Private Patient by P.D. James. It has been my nighttime read for about a week and I turned out the light last night just as the case was coming to an end. It was either that or try to stay awake another hour or so to finish it.

This mystery is the latest and perhaps last of the Adam Dalgleish series. It was published in 2008 and since Ms. James is now 92, I wonder if there will be another with detective and poet Commander Dalgleish.

Basically the story is of the murder of an investigative reporter who has gone to a private clinic/manor house outside of London to have a facial scar removed by a well-known and successful plastic surgeon. The wound was inflicted some 40 years ago by the woman's father when she was a child. He was a drunkard and slashed her cheek with a broken bottle.  She tells the surgeon that "she has no use for the scar any longer." (Neither he nor I could ever figure out what she meant.)

Ms. James, as usual, delves quite deeply into her characters and there are plenty of them here to deal with. And the rooms. Ms. James loves to describe rooms - bedrooms, libraries, kitchens. I used to hurry through those details - let's get on with the plot, thank you very much - but have taken to slowing down and appreciating the way she uses her imagination to create the scene for the reader. 

I am not sure the ending - there are really two - is very clear, but getting there was surely entertaining. And, with not as much philosophizing as in the recently read The Murder Room.

So long, Adam Dalgleish.

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