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Extended Audio Sample Death in Holy Orders: An Adam Dalgliesh Mystery Audiobook, by P. D. James Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (5,280 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: P. D. James Narrator: Charles Keating Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: The Adam Dalgliesh Mysteries Release Date: April 2001 ISBN: 9780739300060
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The setting itself is elemental P. D. James: the bleak coast of East Anglia, where atop a sweep of low cliffs stands the small theological college of St. Anselm’s. On the shore not far away, smothered beneath a fall of sand, lies the body of one of the school’s young ordinands. He is the son of Sir Alred Treves, a hugely successful and flamboyant businessman who is accustomed to getting what he wants—and in this case what he wants is Commander Adam Dalgliesh to investigate his son’s death. Although there seems to be little to investigate, Dalgliesh agrees, largely out of nostalgia for several happy summers he spent at St. Anselm’s as a boy. No sooner does he arrive, however, than the college is torn apart by a sacrilegious and horrifying murder, and Dalgliesh finds himself ineluctably drawn into the labyrinth of an intricate and violent mystery.

Here P. D. James once more demonstrates her unrivalled skill in building a classic detective story into a fully realized novel, gripping as much for its psychological and emotional richness as for the originality and complexity of its plotting—and, of course, for the horror and suspense at its heart. Filled with unforgettable characters, brilliant in its evocation of the East Anglian scene and the religious background against which the action takes place, Death in Holy Orders again offers proof, if proof were needed, that P. D. James is not only the reigning master of the crime novel but also, simply, one of the finest novelists writing today.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Adam Dalgliesh's latest outing possesses the confident interplay of classical discipline, contemporary morality and strong evocation of place that had hitherto distinguished James's novels. Writing for the most part within the conventions of the detective story, she has again proved its constraints to be a liberating force for the creative imagination, drawing on accepted generic elements to produce a thoughtful, beautifully-written book which is far more complex than the sum of its parts. Nicola Upson, The Observer
  • This is a grand, gothic novel of gut-wrenching suspense, satisfying at all levels. (...) Here is a novel which goes beyond mere enjoyment. Frances Fyfield, The Sunday Express
  • There are very few thriller writers who can compete with P. D. James at her best ... One of the things that sets P. D. James apart from other writers in this genre is the intellectual assurance of her work. This is manifest in her use of language - she writes beautifully - but also in the light touch with which she displays her learning ... DEATH IN HOLY ORDERS is pure pleasure. Charlotte Joll, The Spectator
  • DEATH IN HOLY ORDERS is a page-turner ... but it is also so well-written that you linger over James's beautifully-observed descriptions of characters or scenes ... More, please, P. D. James. Rosita Boland, The Irish Times
  • James transcends the crime genre, in that hers are fully evolved novels and not just murder mysteries. They are packed with argument and insight and detail. Victoria Glendinning, The Daily Telegraph
  • This is a thoroughly satisfactory, gripping and exceptionally well-written novel. Anne Chisholm, The Sunday Telegraph
  • James is a natural storyteller when it comes to pace and atmosphere. Sarah Dunant, The Times
  • A 2002Barry Award Nominee

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tammy | 2/19/2014

    " This was my first P.D. James mystery, and I thoroughly enjoyed the complexity of the characters and attention to details. The setting is perfect: an old-school Anglican seminary in a remote area overlooking the sea. The murderer is one of about 20 people, most of whom live at the school or on the grounds. (I also have a penchant for British mysteries, and this one is oh, so British. How many fictional detectives do you know who drive Jaguars?) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dan Grignon | 2/18/2014

    " I loved it... rarely does a book keep me up late at night these days. Looks like there are going to be a lot of late nights... I understand there are at least 14 books with Dalgliesh at the helm. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mosker | 2/16/2014

    " Possibly my favorite of the Dalgeish books I've read (listed here--I need to read the earlier ones), but then I'm a sucker for Church of England stories. Just like Graham Greene and Catholicism, somehow the Brits have a special talent for writing about the church, good and bad. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Penny | 2/13/2014

    " AD as he is refered to often in this book, Adam Dalgelish, of the London Metropolitan Police, takes time to weekend visit, under coersion from a rich supporter of the art, police, political entites, moved to an old theology school for training Ordinands for priesthood, and looks into a suicide or accidental death of one of the boys, only to witness more deaths at the british collge above the cliffs of the mere and the roar of the cold sea below. Does he solve who-dunit, and with how many twist?. I enjoyed this alot. Long read but pretty good. yes it's worth the read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Debbie | 1/23/2014

    " Ok story "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jerry | 1/21/2014

    " A page turner. One of P.D. James best Adam Dalgliesh mysteries. A strange death brings in the inspector. More deaths follow. Are they related? Just when you think you've got a killer figured out, another likely suspect pops up. Cleverly conceived and very well written, the story holds your interest to the last pages where all is made clear -- well, almost all as there is potential for romance carried forward. On our book club discussion list for March 2011. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mary | 1/21/2014

    " Love the PD James mysteries "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Elizabeth | 1/20/2014

    " Definitely one of the better mysteries I've read. I'm still not sure why the murderer did it, but I was fascinated and entertained to find out who did it. As previously stated by goodfriend, Jeanne, recommended especially to Anglophiles and Anglicans. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sarah Hexberg | 1/12/2014

    " Fairly interesting; the book really has a sense of place, which I enjoyed. The plot itself was almost secondary to the ambience. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Leigh | 12/26/2013

    " i like mysteries set in england and/or scotland, but i particularly like p.d. james. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jim | 12/21/2013

    " I think P.D. James read Barchester Towers and wondered what would happen if one of Trollope's characters bludgeoned another. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Terri | 12/17/2013

    " It has been a long time since I read a P.D. James book, and I had forgotten how much I enjoy the Adam Dalgliesh character. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Deb Weina | 12/15/2013

    " Enjoyed this book. Good plot and character description. Nice to read something to take you away from daily cares. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kristen | 12/13/2013

    " Good story, wonderful writing. I read quickly because I wanted to get to the end, but I'll need to go back and read through it again more slowly to properly appreciate the writing. Highly recommended -- I'm looking forward to reading more of her books! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lia | 12/2/2013

    " No one does it better than P.D. James except maybe Agatha. Love a good mystery in the summer. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Theresa Hollis | 10/9/2013

    " Am a fan of P.D. James, and especially love the character of Adam Dalgliesh, sort of another 'Morse' this collection is well worth reading, always a twist and always compelling reading. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 JoAnn W. | 8/1/2013

    " PD James is one of my favorite authors. Her novels are all psychological thrillers besides being page turning who-dun-its. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bethany | 5/17/2013

    " Grim and sparse tale of four questionable deaths at seaside theological college. P.D. James at her best in her development of poet-detective Adam Dagliesh's character and motivations. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Donna Harland | 4/30/2013

    " brilliant read, not exactly cant put down, but kept me puzzled all the way through, but the plot was good, the clues and red herrings all the way through, very good read "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kathy Petersen | 7/16/2012

    " Anything further I say about James' detective stories would be redundant. This, like all the others, I found difficult to put down. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lee | 7/6/2012

    " P. D. James writes characters that are believeable. Once you have tasted this author's writing you'll want to feast on all the books! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alane | 12/4/2011

    " I don't consider myself a mystery person, but I do love me some P.D. James. Particularly like the later stuff "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Barbara | 7/25/2011

    " Sophisticated english mystery. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Benjamin Boss | 6/11/2011

    " Madame James at her finest. Murder in a seminary on the rocky British coast. The setting is vivid and becomes a character in itself. Altogether an exciting literary thriller. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 liza | 6/4/2011

    " the pace was a little slow on this one. p.d.james' style reminds of me of agatha christie's. i liked the story line but wanted to fast forward through some of the descriptive stuff and was a little disappointed with the reveal. i can't really put my finger on it, but this book wasn't very spicy. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Diane Challenor | 5/25/2011

    " I think I must be the only person in the western world who hadn't read the work of PD James. What a fantastic wtiter and she's written so many books. I look forward to working my way through her stories. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Charlotte | 3/1/2011

    " I didn't finish this book. It wasn't worth finishing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 M.C. | 2/16/2011

    " What can I say? PD James writes interesting, intelligent who-dun-its and I always enjoy her mysteries. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Elaine | 2/1/2011

    " James once said in an interview that she began a new novel not with the crime, but with a place. The place here is a small seminary for Anglican priests which sits along the seaside. A master of the language, James is great at creating an atmosphere and then adding her cast of suspects. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Katrina | 1/22/2011

    " Really liked this one. I think it's the best mystery by James that I've read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jan | 1/17/2011

    " The basic story was ok but I really got bogged down with the long descriptions and side stories that had nothing to do with the mystery. I did a lot of skimming through this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Naomi | 1/17/2011

    " This is actually the first PD James book I had seen made into a movie on Masterpiece Theatre and I fell in love with the twists and turns of the show. The book is even better..written almost poetically and bringing the reader in to understand more about the characters. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 David | 1/3/2011

    " This was my first Book by PD James .Would recommend it "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ellie | 1/3/2011

    " Like James & like Adam Dagleish. Like those moody, smart men (unfortunately). "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Saugat | 1/3/2011

    " Another engrossing P D James mystery. I liked it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amy | 1/2/2011

    " Read on my way back to the US (actually I think it was a reread, but when I couldn't remember whodunit I kept going). I'm always inspired by her vocabulary! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Donna | 12/30/2010

    " A mystery by a British author, who I discovered after reading the book, was 81 when she wrote it! I found that pretty amazing since the plot was long and convoluted. I was ready for the last page long before it came, but I felt compelled to finish so I could discover "who done it." "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lesa | 12/9/2010

    " Dalgliesh isn't the typical detective, and his inner workings add enjoyable layers to the story. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Barry | 11/26/2010

    " good mystery if you go for that sort of thing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Heather | 10/6/2010

    " outstanding as always - pd james is the queen of whodunnits "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rebecca | 10/5/2010

    " I enjoyed my time spent with the Anglo-Catholic priests at St. Anselms in this mystery. Thanks for a great read! "

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About the Author
P. D. James is the author of 17 previous books, most of which have been filmed for television. Before her retirement in 1979, she served in the forensics and criminal justice departments of Great Britain’s Home Office, and she has been a magistrate and a governor of the BBC. The recipient of many prizes and honours, she was created Baroness James of Holland Park in 1991. In 2000 she celebrated her 80th birthday and published her autobiography, Time to Be in Earnest.