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The Murder Room (Adam Dalgliesh Mystery Series #12) (original 2003; edition 2004)

by P. D. James

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Member:vancouverdeb
Title:The Murder Room (Adam Dalgliesh Mystery Series #12)
Authors:P. D. James
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Rating:****
Tags:british mystery

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The Murder Room by P. D. James (2003)

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Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
Read during Fall 2005

I picked this up to read super quick because I was so confused by Part 1 of the Mystery adaption and wanted to know what happens before Part 2 is on. I finished it in a tearing read at 1:30am, skipping over about 1 page of what seemed to be headed for egregious and awful animal cruelty before the grand wrap up ending. The adaption cut out several subplots which didn't impact the final outcome but were good for diverting attention from the real clues. I was fairly close in my guesses but I liked the character backgrounds that the novel gave me. All the characters were fairly warped but at least there some reason behind it. I ended up finding the relationship of Adam and Emma the most interesting and I'm looking forward to what might happen with them in the future. The actors in the TV adaption also play these roles very well and make the relationship seem very real.

I listened to an audio book in Fall 2006

My very first audio book. It wasn't as hard to listen to a book as I thought and the reader had a very pleasant voice but a very limited range of character voices. I read this about a year ago and was somewhat suprised at how much I remembered. Some of the stylistic flaws of James were more apparent in the read out loud verision but it was still highly enjoyable and now will put The Lighthouse at the top of list.
  amyem58 | Jul 14, 2014 |
I like her writing and the fullness of her characters ( )
  njcur | Feb 13, 2014 |
Another great mystery by P.D. James. I thought the beginning was perhaps a tad longer than necessary; there was a lot of build up before the first murder happened. However, overall it was very enjoyable and engaging and made for great travel reading. ( )
  sbsolter | Feb 6, 2014 |
P.D James creates a world around her mysteries, probably better than any other mystery writer I know. Such is the case here, when rocks the DuPayne Museum. A small, eccentric museum dedicated to the history of the interwar period, the DuPayne's showpiece is a gallery dedicated to period murders. Full of macabre displays and artifacts, "The Murder Room" appears to have provided inspiration for a serial killer. People in and around the museum are being killed in the same manner as the most notable murders displayed in the gallery. Dalgliesh and his team try to discover the killer as the body count rises.

This is a mystery with a complex plot. It has many moving parts, and numerous richly drawn characters. Set in the waning fall, the atmosphere is appropriately dark and gloomy. I figured out who the murderer was, and I suspected why, which is unusual for me with James's books. There were more direct clues to murderer and motive in this one. In sum, an excellent mystery with a richly-drawn atmosphere. ( )
  lahochstetler | Nov 6, 2013 |


The Murder Room

by P.D. James

Knopf, 432 pages, hardback, 2003



The small Dupayne Museum, on the edge of a large area of
parkland, Hampstead Heath, in North London, houses exhibitions
devoted to life in Britain between the two World Wars. Although
the museum draws relatively few visitors, it does have one
perennially popular attraction, the Murder Room, containing
exhibits related to the most notorious murders of the period.

Old Max Dupayne, its founder, willed that his three children
— Neville, Caroline and Marcus — should have
unanimously to agree any important decision related to the
museum, and what could be more important than that its lease is
due for renewal? This is, in effect, a decision as to whether or
not the museum should continue to exist, which Neville alone
among the three feels strongly it should not.

Then Neville is murdered gruesomely in the museum garage, in
a manner reminiscent of one of the killings celebrated in the
Murder Room. Commander Adam Dalgleish and his officers of
Scotland Yard's Special Investigation Squad are immediately
called in; the crime is sensitive because one of the museum's
staffers is a sleeper for MI5 — hence the prompt involvement
of the SIS as opposed to a more routine squad. Before their
investigation is done, another apparently copycat murder victim
will be discovered — this time right inside the Murder Room
itself — and many secrets will be laid bare.

The first 110 pages or so of this novel are taken up with a
section called "The People and the Place." During this section
almost nothing of relevance to the novel's plot takes place that
could not be covered elsewhere in a few paragraphs. What we are
treated to are, more or less, vastly expanded versions of the
character notes that many writers make preparatory to undertaking
a novel, so that they may ensure consistency of background and of
behaviour. In the hands of a defter and more graceful writer than
James, this long preamble might nonetheless be absorbing;
however, James has always had a somewhat lumbering, drab prose
style, so that for large tracts of this section one has the
feeling of being subjected to some sort of literary endurance
test.

And then, a few pages before the section's end, the plot
starts.

This transition, however, does not curb James's urge to
dollop further frequent bucketsful of exposition into her text.
It seems at times that virtually every stray thought of,
particularly, Dalgleish and his sidekick Miskin must be qualified
by a ponderously long paragraph or three of explanation as to why
they had this thought. It took a long time for me to work out why
James should be indulging in this sort of apparent padding —
this almost obsessive level of amplification of each action or
thought — but finally I realized that it was because she was
having difficulty getting her characters to come alive on the
page. All these extraneous passages were attempts to conceal
this; they were substitutes for characterization. Almost the sole
character in the book who really does live and breathe is the
museum's housekeeper, Tally; the rest, Dalgleish included, are
essentially cyphers — collections of often stereotyped
attributes rather than real people.

By the end of the book, the cumbersomeness of James's prose
begins to work in her favor, in that by then a slow but
unstoppable momentum has built up. It's arguably worth persisting
with The Murder Room until that happens, but I suspect
many readers will have abandoned the novel before then.



This review, first published by Crescent Blues, is
excerpted from my ebook Warm Words and Otherwise: A Blizzard
of Book Reviews
, to be published on September 19 by Infinity
Plus Ebooks.



( )
  JohnGrant1 | Aug 11, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
The éminence grise of British detective fiction, James delivers another ruminative puzzler, generous in character, graceful in prose.
 
James writes with such ease and juggles her plots and characters with such control that none of this gets out of hand. . . Alas, James's efforts to inject suspense into Dalgliesh's romantic life are less effective. . .
 
There is no mistaking P. D. James's latest mystery for the work of a younger writer. . . Her characters are confused by euros and annoyed by mobile phones. . . Despite her elegiac frame of mind, Ms. James has not lost her taste for a good throttling.
 
It's a general rule of fiction that authors are happiest creating characters closest to their own age. This is because all fiction is broadly autobiographical. Male novelists in their early 20s create wincingly convincing teenagers but - by their 60s - are sketching adolescents who are merely embarrassing sexual fantasies. As an octogenarian novelist, James is showing similar difficulties of characterisation. . .
added by christiguc | editThe Guardian, Mark Lawson (Jul 5, 2003)
 
I've never really got Dalgleish. His combination of policing skill and artistic sensibility - he's an acclaimed poet - has always struck a false note for me, especially given that he's so emotionally constrained. . . In The Murder Room, even his detective skills are more assumed than demonstrated. Several people, Dalgleish included, comment on his ability to get people to tell him things. Yet in this book, you have no idea why. All he seems to do is enter a room, ask a question and the admissions come thick and fast. . . Once she does begin, though, she doesn't relent until the genuinely chilling climax. Patrician, eccentric, but still a delight.
 
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Epigraph
Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
T. S. Eliot, Burnt Norton
Dedication
To my two sons-in-law
Lyn Flook
Peter Duncan McLeod
First words
On Friday 25 October, exactly one week before the first body was discovered at the Dupayne Museum, Adam Dalgliesh visited the museum for the first time.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0141015535, Paperback)

Commander Adam Dalgliesh is already acquainted with the Dupayne Museum in Hampstead, and with its sinister murder room celebrating notorious crimes committed in the interwar years, when he is called to investigate the killing of one of the trustees. He soon discovers that the victim was seeking to close the museum against the wishes of both staff and fellow trustees. Everyone, it seems, has something to gain from the crime. When it becomes clear that the killer is prepared to kill again, inspired by the real-life crimes from the murder room, Dalgliesh knows that to solve this case he has to get into the mind of a ruthless killer.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:31:47 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

The Dupayne, a small private museum on the edge of London's Hampstead Heath devoted to the interwar years 1919-39, is in turmoil. The trustees--the three children of the museum founder, old Max Dupayne--are bitterly at odds over whether it should be closed. Then one of them is brutally murdered, and what seemed to be no more than a family dispute erupts into horror. For even as Commander Adam Dalgiesh and his team investigate the first killing, a second corpse is discovered. Clearly, someone at the Dupayne is prepared to kill, and kill again. The case is fraught with danger and complexity from the outset, not least because of the range of possible suspects--and victims. And still more sinister, the murders appear to echo the notorious crimes of th epast featured in one of the museum's most popular galleries, the Murder Room. For Dalgiesh, P.D. James's formidable detective, the search for the murderer poses an unexpected complication. After years of bachelorhood, he has embarked on a promising new relationship with Emma Lavenham--first introduced in Death in Holy Orders--which is at a critical stage. Yet his struggle to solve the Dupayne murders faces him with a frustrating dilemma: each new development distances him further from commitment to the woman he loves. The Murder Room is a story dark with the passions that lie at the heart of crime, a masterful work of psychological intricacy.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 11 descriptions

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