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Death in Holy Orders (Adam Dalgliesh Mystery…

Death in Holy Orders (Adam Dalgliesh Mystery Series #11) (original 2001; edition 2007)

by P. D. James

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Title:Death in Holy Orders (Adam Dalgliesh Mystery Series #11)
Authors:P. D. James
Info:Ballantine Books (2007), Paperback, 448 pages
Collections:Your library

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Death in Holy Orders by P. D. James (2001)

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    The Rings of Saturn by W. G. Sebald (thorold)
    thorold: You can't get much more conventional than an English murder mystery, or much more experimental than Sebald's unclassifiable prose works, but these two books do seem to have a bit more in common than their setting on the Suffolk coast. An odd mixture of gloom and playfulness, a refusal quite to reveal what's in the writer's mind...… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
A very good series if you like English mysteries ( )
  INorris | Jun 22, 2014 |
P. D. James continues to write very literate and interesting mysteries featuring her well-read inspector Adam Dalgliesh. This recent edition has a great story, although the motivations of the murderer left me disbelieving. His rationale just did not seem especially valid, but the scenarios and characters are complex and interesting. The setting for this novel is St. Anselm's, a small theological college on a lonely stretch of the Anglian coast, so isolated that a fallen tree on the only road to the college can effectively block all access to it. The students are housed in an old Victorian mansion with all sorts of nooks and crannies. Increasingly threatened by the financial burdens on the college, the local archdeacon wants to close the college -- he becomes one of the murder victims -- but his past ties with one of the teachers make his judgments suspect. All of the professors and some of the ordinands (those studying to become Anglican priests) have nefarious events in their past or antipathy toward one or other of the rest of the characters. A local police inspector is there for a while, recuperating from psychological problems, and he has reason to hate the archdeacon, an antipathy reciprocated because of the investigator’s investigation into the death of the archdeacon's first wife and his ongoingl certainty of the archdeacon's culpability. Dalgliesh becomes involved because he had been asked to investigate the ostensible suicide of one of the ordinands who had apparently killed himself by lying under an outcropping of sand and then causing it to collapse suffocating himself. Dalgliesh has nostalgic memories of the college, having spent some time there in his youth. By the end of the investigation, several others have been killed in order to hide a secret — and this is where the plot falls apart, I think — that would have, by necessity, have come out in any case. In a portrayal of human evil, James reveals a nasty mess of intertwined jealousy, greed, deceit, anger and revenge, not to ignore murder. The ultimate cause of the murders is the endowment that, if the college is closed, will pass to the remaining professors, or to the heir of the Arbuthnot estate. It gets wonderfully complicated, and James's nonpareil writing holds one enthralled right to the end despite my earlier caveat. ( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
At a small training college for Anglican priests, the son of
a high powered businessman is found dead on the beach.
The father is not satisfied with the results of the inquest
and demands that Scotland Yard send an investigator out to
look into the situation. The death hastens the discussions
about closing the college, which brings other issues that
cloud the situation surrounding the first murder, including
the fact that other murders follow. This is the first Adam
Dagliesh mystery that I have read and I really enjoyed the
character. I liked the way she writes as well as that she
weaves a complex web of information and continues to contribute to the information as if she were part of the investigation team feeding you information. Numerous twists and unexpected turns. ( )
  jlapac | Aug 14, 2013 |
This was my first James, and for a long time I was enjoying it as a bit of old-fashioned Agatha Christe-esqe escapism.

The setting - a remote windswept theological college resembling a monstery (though in fact Church of England) - was a nice enough twist on one of Aunt Agatha's remote country houses.

Smetimes something quite trivial annoys me about a book, after which I find it difficult to regain my sympathy.

In this case it was a peculiar note about one of the police officers. She has been so outraged by the Macpherson Report (which found 'institutional racism' in the Metropolitan Police) that she was thinking of leaving the service. "She was illegitimate and brought up ... in one of the bleakest inner city areas. Blacks had been her neighbours ..."

The notion that having black neighbours should be worthy of comment is even more old fashined than the concept of illegitimacy. Pointing out that the Met was racist is akin to the old adage about bears in the woods. In the seventies and eighties racism in the Met was of almost surrealist proportions. It has improved greatly since and the improvement did preceed Macpherson - beginning really with the Scarman report in 1981 which first described the Met as institutionally racist.

All this has nothing much to do with the novel; but it just made me realise how out of touch with the real world this book by an ex Home Office mandarin was.

After that I found the plot increasingly improbable and the conclusion so convoluted as to beggar belief.

No. I don't rate James as the new Christie. Maybe I took it too seriously.
  GeorgeBowling | Jul 29, 2012 |
In Death in Holy Orders, eleventh in the Adam Dalgliesh crime fiction series, his planned vacation is rerouted to a place he once stayed as a boy, a small religious college in an isolated coastal region, where a young ordinand’s death has been designated as an accident, but an anonymous letter to his father has since aroused suspicion - Dalgliesh arrives to find not one suspicious death at the college, but two, and these are followed by a brutal and very obvious murder.

I find P. D. James refreshing to read; her non-series characters (those who are not Dalgliesh, his colleagues, or connected to him personally) are incredibly well written, no matter how peripheral they may be. I’ve begun making a point of picking one up whenever a previous book disappoints me in terms of characterisation – to prove to myself that I’m not just being picky, that it’s possible to infuse any genre with individuals who are neither lazily portrayed, nor overplayed to compensate. There are other female crime writers who are just as strong in this area, but I’m on a P. D. James kick just now, because she also plots and instils atmosphere wonderfully, as well; in this book, the sadness and isolation were layered with beautiful subtlety. Death in Holy Orders seemed a little long-winded in places (there seemed to be more ‘middle’ to this book than was strictly necessary) but a very rewarding read. ( )
  eleanor_eader | Mar 11, 2012 |
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for Rosemary Goad. For forty years editor and friend
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It was Father Martin's idea that I should write an account of how I found the body.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345446666, Mass Market Paperback)

Despite challenges from Ruth Rendell and (more recently) Minette Walters, P.D. James's position as Britain's Queen of Crime remains largely unassailable. Although a certain reaction has set in to her reputation (and there are those who claim her poetry-loving copper Adam Dalgliesh doesn't correspond to any of his counterparts in the real world), her detractors can scarcely deny her astonishing literary gifts. More than any other writer, she has elevated the detective story into the realms of literature, with the psychology of the characters treated in the most complex and authoritative fashion. Her plots, too, are full of intriguing detail and studed with brilliantly observed character studies. Who cares if Dalgliesh belongs more in the pages of a book than poking around a graffiti-scrawled council estate? As a policeman, he is considerably more plausible than Doyle's Holmes, and that's never stopped us loving the Baker Street sleuth. Death in Holy Orders represents something of a challenge from James to her critics, taking on all the contentious elements and rigorously reinvigorating them. She had admitted that she was finding it increasingly difficult to find new plots for Dalgliesh, and the locale here (a theological college on a lonely stretch of the East Anglian coast) turns out to be an inspired choice. We're presented with the enclosed setting so beloved of golden age detective writers, and James is able to incorporate her theological interests seamlessly into the plot (but never in any doctrinaire way; the nonbeliever is never uncomfortable). The body of a student at the college is found on the shore, suffocated by a fall of sand. Dalgliesh is called upon to reexamine the verdict of accidental death (which the student's father would not accept). Having visited the College of St. Anselm in his boyhood, he finds the investigation has a strong nostalgic aspect for him. But that is soon overtaken by the realization that he has encountered the most horrific case of his career, and another visitor to the college dies a horrible death. As an exploration of evil--and as a piece of highly distinctive crime writing--this is James at her nonpareil best. Dalgliesh, too, is rendered with new dimensions of psychological complexity. --Barry Forshaw, Amazon.co.uk

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:47:57 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

The untimely death of a young priest in training draws Commander Adam Dalgliesh back to East Anglia to investigate at the request of the young man's father, as Dalgliesh finds himself drawn into a complex and violent mystery.

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