Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Unnatural Causes by P. D. James

Unnatural Causes (1967)

by P. D. James

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Adam Dalgliesh (3)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,574314,641 (3.66)47



Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 47 mentions

English (28)  French (1)  Danish (1)  Spanish (1)  All (31)
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
I like the writing, and characters, but th plot is much too complex, and the idea of a community of crime authors involved too much...
Anyway a good read! ( )
  Gerardlionel | Apr 2, 2016 |
good mystery @ murder —

Superintendent Adam Dalgliesh had been looking forward to a quiet holiday at his aunt's cottage on Monksmere Head, one of the furthest-flung spots on the remote Suffolk coast. With nothing to do other than enjoy long wind-swept walks, tea in front of the crackling wood fire and hot buttered toast, Dalgliesh was relishing the thought of a well-earned break.

However, all hope of peace is soon shattered by murder. The mutilated body of a local crime writer, Maurice Seaton, floats ashore in a drifting dinghy to drag Adam Dalgliesh into a new and macabre investigation.
  christinejoseph | Feb 24, 2016 |
This is the third James book I've read so far. I enjoyed the story but I was a little put off by the 10 page long explanation at the end... really really far fetched. The climactic scene was great however, well written... James is a fine write, the whole book is well written, of course... also, this is only her third book and was written 42 years ago, so I'd imagine that her later books have more plausible solutions... ( )
  BooksForDinner | Feb 3, 2016 |
Interesting period for detective fiction, the 1960s. previously so much emphasis was placed on identifying handwriting. This novel is pre-computers, full of professional writers, and there's a great deal about identifying typescripts, who would have typed them - not the usual broken keys identifying the typewriter, but the style of typing identifying the typist. The suspects even all have to type out two paragraphs for their typing style to be identified. ( )
  KayCliff | Jan 2, 2016 |
Maurice Seton was a distinguished mystery writer living in the tiny town of Suffolk, England. He may have come to prominence through his books, but no murder that he had ever devised for one of his stories could possibly have been as grisly as his own. When his gruesomely mutilated corpse is found in the bottom of a dinghy, drifting just within sight of the lakeshore, ripples of shock and horror spread among the tightly-knit circle of Maurice's bizarre friends.

Scotland Yard Inspector Adam Dalgliesh was supposed to be on vacation, visiting his eccentric Aunt Jane. To be perfectly honest, he is actually looking for some time off; some time away from crime and death. However, it would seem that crime and death never got the message, and Inspector Dalgliesh soon finds himself investigating the murder of Maurice Seton. His primary list of suspects seems to come from the close-knit circle of Maurice's self-described friends; certainly an unusually odd bunch of people, if truth be told.

There is a cynical and cruel drama critic, a voluptuous burlesque showgirl, a dissolute young heir, and a young woman who is absolutely terrified that she may become the killer's next victim. Inspector Dalgliesh and his extraordinary aunt Jane are following a tantalizing trail of sin and scandal. And they must make sure that they are on the right track to discovering a dead man's secrets, because if the sleuths are wrong, this perilous plot is bound to take another twisted and murderous turn...

I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The mystery itself wasn't too taxing and I found it easy to follow. I also appreciated that there weren't that many characters in the story; I usually find myself getting confused if there are too many characters to remember.

Anyway, I know that I have several other books by P. D. James on my bookshelf, but I haven't found them yet; they are so well hidden. I will say that this was the first book by Ms. James that I've actually read, although I have started to read one or two in the past. For whatever reason, I was unable to really get into either book and had to set them aside for a while. Although I would happily give this book an A+! Guess I'll be looking out those other two P. D. James books next! ( )
  moonshineandrosefire | Nov 7, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
P. D. Jamesprimary authorall editionscalculated
Solinas, AnnaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tamminen, LeenaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
The corpse without hands lay in the bottom of a small sailing dinghy drifting just within sight of the Suffolk coast.
Maurice always said that writing wouldn't keep him in socks. He was rather bitter about it. He said that this was the age of "Soap-powder fiction". If a writer hadn't a gimmick no one was interested. Bestsellers were created by the advertisers, good writing was a positive disadvantage and the public libraries killed sales.
`He must have been a strange sort of chap. Fussy. Methodical. That card index, for instance.'
[To get enough money] `much might be necessary. A novel every 6 months; a weekly stint in *Home & Hearth* [woman's mag]; appearances whenever her agent could get them on those interminably boring tv panels; short stories written under one name or another for the women's weeklies; the gracious appearances at Church bazaars where the publicity was free even if the tea had to be paid for.'
`It must have given him the greatest satisfaction to write it all down. There could be no typewriter, no mechanical keys between this pain and its expression. He needed to see the words forming themselves under his hand.'
`What about his style?'
`Turgid but grammatical. And, in these days, when every illiterate debutante thinks she is a novelist, who am I to quarrel with that? Written I imagine with Fowler on his left hand and Roget on his right. Stale, flat and, alas, rapidly becoming unprofitable. ... When I last saw him I had to listen to the usual diatribe about the decline of standards and the exploitation of sex and sadism ...'
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Oorspronkelijke titel: Unnatural causes.
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743219597, Paperback)

A famous mystery writer is found dead at the bottom of a dinghy, with both hands chopped off at the wrists. Superintendent Adam Dalgliesh, with help from his remarkable Aunt Jane, must discover who typed the writer's death sentence before the plot takes another murderous turn.

Unnatural Causes inspired Cosmopolitan to fervently hope, "if we're lucky, there will always be an England and there will always be a P. D. James."

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:22 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Superintendent Adam Dalgliesh was looking forward to a quiet holiday at his aunt's cottage on Monksmere Head. There would be long walks, tea in front of the fire, and, best of all, no corpses. But he reckoned without the discovery of crime-writer Maurice Seton's mutilated body.… (more)

» see all 7 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
44 avail.
18 wanted

Popular covers


Average: (3.66)
1 3
1.5 2
2 14
2.5 5
3 104
3.5 27
4 127
4.5 9
5 48

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 116,038,812 books! | Top bar: Always visible