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Shroud for a Nightingale by P.D. James

Shroud for a Nightingale (original 1971; edition 2002)

by P.D. James

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Title:Shroud for a Nightingale
Authors:P.D. James
Info:Seal Books (2002), Unbound, 512 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:TBR 2012 & PRIOR

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Shroud for a Nightingale by P. D. James (1971)



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Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
This is the fourth Adam Dalgliesh book, published in 1971, and the first I read. It was the beginning of a love affair with PD James and following her recent death, I decided to re-read them all.
The Nightingale in question is not Florence but Nightingale House, a nursing school at John Carpendar Hospital, Heatheringfield. At a student demonstration of patient feeding by intra-gastric tube, the nurse who substitutes as the patient dies a ghastly death. It is assumed to be an accident. When a second student nurse is found dead in her bed, her whisky nightcap the assumed culprit, Adam Dalgliesh is called in from Scotland Yard.
Like all James detective books, this is a complex mixture of observation of human behaviour, intricate plotting, detailed description, and totally believable characters. This is how Alderman Kealey is introduced, he, “looked as perky as a terrier. He was a ginger-haired, foxy little man, bandy as a jockey and wearing a plaid suit, the awfulness of its pattern emphasized by the excellence of its cut. It gave him an anthropomorphic appearance, like an animal in a children’s comic; and Dalgliesh almost expected to find himself shaking a paw.”
The brooding Victorian pile which is Nightingale House, set amongst woods which are rumoured to be haunted, is an atmospheric setting for a murder story involving young emotional women. So when there are more attacks and a fire, it somehow seems inevitable given the setting.
Did I work out the identity of the murderer? I had an early suspicion which I then forgot as I became involved in the various possibilities which Dalgliesh explores. PD James’s books are not formula whodunits, this story incorporates medical procedure, World War Two, ballroom dancing, blackmail. The story twists and turns as we see events unfold through different points of view though whether the truth is being withheld we do not know until the end.
Read more of my book reviews at http://www.sandradanby.com/book-reviews-a-z/ ( )
  Sandradan1 | Oct 31, 2015 |
Re-reading this I was surprised at how old-fashioned it seemed. James must have been writing it at the time when nursing was undergoing an organisational upheaval in the early 70s, but there is no indication of that here. In fact, it's difficult to realise the book is set at that time, it feels more like the 1950s. The nursing home setting is very claustrophobic and none of the characters is likeable, even Dalgleish. The theme of the book is power (over others) and its misuse. This is my least favourite of James's novels. ( )
  mlfhlibrarian | Feb 13, 2015 |
Seemed to drag on and on. ( )
  Elleneer | May 17, 2014 |
Excellent, very well-written, tightly woven mystery. Light reading but quotable! I am thrilled to have discovered P. D. James because there are so many more books to read by her! For more see http://booksandmiscellany.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/shroud-for-a-nightingale-thou.... ( )
  sbsolter | Feb 6, 2014 |
Shroud for a Nightingale is set in a nursing school attached to a hospital outside of London somewhere. The school itself is housed in an old Victorian mansion on the grounds of the hospital which is acknowledged from the beginning to be a very poor building for the school. But for us as readers, it adds wonderful atmosphere. And when it comes to books, I'm all about the atmosphere.

During a teaching demonstration of how to insert a feeding tube, a student nurse is somehow fed poison instead of the milk she is supposed to be given and dies on the table. She is not a student that anyone will miss. When another student dies two weeks later, Inspector Dalgleish of Scotland Yard is called in.

The course of this investigation uncovers many, many secrets that the inhabitants of Nightingale House did not want coming to light but which of them was someone willing to kill for? This story has suspects, red herrings and motives galore. How Dalgleish sorts them out to find the killer is a top-notch detective story.

One of the themes of the book is how much people like power and what they will do to get and hold on to it. It's a fascinating study in how even small amounts of power over others can go to a person's head.

Compared to Agatha Christie, a P.D. James novel is a much denser, heavier read. Her books remind me of the turkey at a Thanksgiving dinner while Christie would be the pumpkin pie with whipped cream. I can pick up Christie and enjoy her books anytime at all. I have to decide to read a P.D. James. But her books, and this one in particular, are worth the time and effort. ( )
  Mrsbaty | Nov 4, 2013 |
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On the morning of the first murder Miss Muriel Beale, Inspector of Nurse Training Schools to the General Nursing Council, stirred into wakefulness soon after six o'clock and into a sluggish early morning awareness that it was Monday, 12th January, and the day of the John Carpendar Hospital inspection.
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Oorspronkelijke titel: Shroud for a nightingale.
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Book description
The young women of Nightingale House are there to learn to nurse and comfort the suffering. But when one of the students plays patient in a demonstration of nursing skills, she is horribly, brutally killed. Another student dies equally mysteriously, and it is up to Adam Dalgliesh of Scotland Yard to unmask a killer who has decided to prescribe murder as the cure for all ills.
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The mysterious and tragic deaths of two student nurses send Adam Dalgliesh, Chief Superintendent of Scotland Yard, to hunt the vicious killer seeking refuge in the Nightingale House.

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