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A Mind to Murder by P. D. James

A Mind to Murder (1963)

by P. D. James

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Adam Dalgliesh (2)

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1,846385,856 (3.58)85
Adam Dalgluish was called to the elegant Steen Psychiatric Clinic to investigate why the body of Enid Bolan was found with a chisel through her heart.
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Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
Another good cozy mystery from the Adam Dalgliesh series. This time, the majority of everything takes place in one place namely the Steen Psychiatric Clinic. Miss Bolam the administrative officer is found dead in the archive. She was not very popular and therefore everyone had something to hide. Dalgliesh's job is to filter out all the negative emotions everyone has, so that he finds the essence. In this commissioner coincidence helps to put things into perspective. Dalgliesh has to hurry to prevent another murder from happening.
This story is psychologically very skillful and let me guess for a long time, who the villain is. ( )
  Ameise1 | Feb 16, 2019 |
A great mystery by one of my favourite authors.

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  ashkrishwrites | Aug 29, 2018 |
A Mind to Murder is the second book featuring P.D. James' detective Adam Dalgliesh. Originally published in 1963, I listened to the audio version released in 2013. Crime fiction was a very different genre back in the early 1960's, and a reader of today must take this into consideration when reading these older (classic) stories.

A Mind to Murder is a classic "locked room" mystery. The events primarily take place at a Psychology clinic called The Steen where the Administrative Officer has been murdered. When the police arrive, led by Superintendent Dalgliesh of Scotland Yard, they quickly determine that it was not possible for the murderer to have made an escape, so the killer is still there as they conduct their interviews. Dalgliesh quickly rules out the patients to the clinic, especially the one currently under going treatment with lysergic acid (LSD), and the investigation focuses on the doctors, nurses, porters, and other staff of The Steen. With great care P.D. James leaves clues spread throughout the narrative and leads the reader on a few dead ends and offers up some red herrings. Even the great detective is initially misled, though his energies help uncover a blackmailer at The Steen in addition to a murderer.

A Mind to Murder is a slow-paced, thinking mystery. There is little action, certainly not to the extent of what today's crime writers dole out. But that makes this an enjoyable book. The slower pace allows the reader to digest the clues and information the author provides and we are allowed to partake of the investigation and draw our own conclusions without having to worry about the next gun fight or tight squeeze the killer has planned for the detective. The pace, focus on the crime and investigation, and length of the story (more novella than novel) also means there is not a lot of character development. We know a bit about Superintendent Dalgliesh - that he's a writer of poetry, and he's had a book of poetry published, and that his is nervous about asking out a woman he fancies. But beyond that we know little about Dalgliesh and what drives him. We know almost nothing about his partner (he often fades from few in some of the scenes he is in) and we tend to know more about the suspects under investigation. All of that is probably more a factor of when the book was originally published rather than any 'fault' of the author. (Heh - look at my presumption, trying to claim that P.D. James would have a fault - she's one of the greats of crime fiction!)

Overall I enjoyed the story. It's slower pace, and lack of action might turn off other readers, but I enjoyed being able to get into the heads of the different suspects and understand their motivations. It was also fascinating to see into an earlier time, where the theft of 15 Quid (Pounds) was a big deal. So very different from today. I recommend it only if you want a slower, more languid pace, and are not adverse to a lack of action or pronounced character development.

The narration was well done, though Marsden's pronunciation made me think he was saying "The Steam" clinic, rather than The Steen. But maybe I just need to clean my ears out. I enjoy Marsden in his other narrations, and he did a wonderful job of bringing this story to life. ( )
  GeoffHabiger | Aug 8, 2018 |
This installment in the Dalgliesh series starts off slowly, with the tedium of the office politics of a London psychiatry clinic. But the backstories of some of the suspects toward the end are intriguing, so it ends well. It's only the second in the series, so Dalgliesh's concerns and inner monologue are much less developed than they are in the later books. ( )
  LauraBee00 | Mar 7, 2018 |
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
P. D. Jamesprimary authorall editionscalculated
Berdagué, RoserTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lax, LidiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dr. Paul Steiner, consulting psychiatrist at the Steen Clinic, sat in the front ground floor consulting-room and listened to his patient's highly rationalized explanation of the failure of his third marriage.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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