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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (7,235 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: P. D. James Narrator: Penelope Dellaporta Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: The Adam Dalgliesh Mysteries Release Date: February 2009 ISBN: 9781415961483
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An evil-tempered forensic scientist is put to death, putting many of his colleagues out of misery. Commander Adam Dalgliesh must exhume the secrets of Dr. Lorrimer's laboratory in order to lay bare the murderous motive hidden in one human heart.

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Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jacque Bona | 2/20/2014

    " I struggled with following the plot as I listened to this book. I'm not sure if it was the narrator or the story or both--heck, maybe it was just me. However, the narrator was not able to change her voice enough to differentiate characters. I found the plot hopped around and I just kept losing interest. It was a forced listen to find out who the murderer was. So far, this is the only Dalgliesh story that let me down. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Phil Mullen | 2/8/2014

    " As smoothly convoluted a plot; & as deftly created characters, as this reader could desire. The lady can write delightful mysteries! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lobstergirl | 2/3/2014

    " A girl's body has turned up in a clunch pit (clunch: a hard chalk used as building stone) in East Anglia, but we don't care about her. Our focus is the Hoggatt Forensic Science Laboratory, one of whose forensic scientists, who just happens to be hated by many, will be bludgeoned to death before he can finish examining the evidence in the clunch pit case. The lovely Dalgliesh helicopters in with his appealing sidekick, Massingham, a deeply ordinary aristocrat. "The marvel of the Massinghams was that a lineage going back five hundred years could have produced so many generations of amiable nonentities." James can't seem to help her deep misogynistic streak; it's not enough for spinsters to be unloved, they also need to be vindictive and foul-smelling, their lipstick melting into the creases around their mouths, their hair rollers leaving fat sausage impressions in their hair, their stockings put on backwards. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 jen | 2/1/2014

    " This book didn't develop dagliesh's character as much as the later books do but I still liked it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sarah | 2/1/2014

    " Not the best Adam Dalgliesh mystery but an entertaining read nonetheless. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jan | 1/31/2014

    " Another good P.D. James. I like the way the mysteries come together, and the variety of characters. They are set in England, with a sort of timeless feel. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elaine | 1/30/2014

    " I'm on a P.D. James kick. I love her use of words. Yes, I have to have a dictionary close at hand and a sheet of paper to write down all the characters names to keep track of them. But that's fun for me. Unfortunately she's in her 90s so I'm not sure how many more mysteries she has in her. This was an Adam Dagliesh detective story, her most famous character. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Grace | 1/26/2014

    " Thoroughly enjoyable. What I like about P.D. Jame's Adam Dalgliesh mysteries is that I often can't figure our "who done it" early in the book. There was an almost universally disliked victim, a lot of suspects, most of whom had motive and opportunity, all sorts of subplots and side stories. And the actual murderer was acharacter I had first suspectyed, then dismissed, only to discover I was right about the murderer but wrong about the motive and surprised by how it all played out in the end. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Thea Klapwald | 1/20/2014

    " I've only read a few P.D. James before, including her latest which I did not love. I decided to go to her backlist as these books tend to be excellent. I am not disappointed, yet. Very interesting view of a crime lab. The ending was a bit complicated and maudlin but the point that James made about a murder investigation changing everything it touches - and not for the better - is well made. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kenny | 1/19/2014

    " Classic British mystery, but with more twists and turns than most. Entertaining and quick. Good used bookstore grab. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Martha Tetrault | 1/19/2014

    " Not her best. Seemed flat compared to her earlier ones. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joyce Simbulan | 1/10/2014

    " beauty and jealousy is fatal "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Robynn | 1/7/2014

    " This was a slower read than usual, an awful lot of characters to keep track of, but P.D. James is always an intriguing story teller. So I am glad I plodded thru. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kel | 12/27/2013

    " It was interesting to read about forensic science in the late 1970's and consider the advancements that have been made. The story line was also very intriguing and kept me guessing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jocelyn | 12/23/2013

    " I read for an English class so it felt like a chore sometimes but I enjoyed it. It was a bit confusing at some points; not sure if it's Brit lit or if I'm just stupid or what. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lorraine | 12/23/2013

    " A forensic scientist is found bludgeoned to death at the laboratory in a mansion in East Anglia. Dalgleish and his assistant fly out to investigate. This is a very exciting audio book, with excellent acting by the reader. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Patricia | 12/17/2013

    " I am currently rereading P.D. James. The writing in her books is excellent, the plots are intricate. Her books are dark in atmosphere, but the violence is not too graphic.An excellent series for anyone who loves a well written mystery with moral nuance and plenty of British atmosphere! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dave | 12/15/2013

    " Not as spectacular of some of the others but worthwhile "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Suzanne Rioux | 12/13/2013

    " A great whodunit... "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Pragyam | 12/10/2013

    " Did not enjoy it as much as other PD James books. However, it has some interesting characters, like the Director of the lab and his sister. And the denouement is interesting too. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lisa Barton | 12/9/2013

    " If you like mysteries that aren't the old-school whodunit variety or gumshoe, Sam Spade stuff, but more modern detective novels, I recommend any of P.D. James' Adam Dalgliesh mysteries. They're dark and brooding, very updated Victorian. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sue | 12/9/2013

    " A well crafted whodunnit and entertaining read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Naomi | 11/22/2013

    " This was a good PD James book..not her best, but although I read it almost half a year ago, I can remember it well. With how much I read, that is a sign of a good read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 David | 11/19/2013

    " Not one of her best works, but still recommended if you enjoy P.D. James. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Whitney Hemphill | 11/17/2013

    " I can't wait to re-read this one "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kel | 11/16/2013

    " It was interesting to read about forensic science in the late 1970's and consider the advancements that have been made. The story line was also very intriguing and kept me guessing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Annette Meier | 11/5/2013

    " Good characters & storyline. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ange | 11/2/2013

    " Saw the video a while ago. The book is even better than the video. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carlin | 8/24/2013

    " This was the first P D James I've read and I thought it was a good British (murder) mystery. She does continually give the characters reasons to have committed the murder so you never get to really rule anyone out.. little annoying. I will read another one to see how similar her stories are. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carlin | 7/27/2013

    " This was the first P D James I've read and I thought it was a good British (murder) mystery. She does continually give the characters reasons to have committed the murder so you never get to really rule anyone out.. little annoying. I will read another one to see how similar her stories are. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Robynn | 7/19/2013

    " This was a slower read than usual, an awful lot of characters to keep track of, but P.D. James is always an intriguing story teller. So I am glad I plodded thru. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Stacie | 4/10/2013

    " Tried and tried to finish this one but just wasn't interested. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bex | 2/15/2013

    " I now know whodunnit. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Brynna | 12/26/2012

    " Well and interestingly written. There are some very nice moments in this book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jens | 12/13/2012

    " Another classic from P.D. James, somewhat interrupted by my reading it in the midst of delirious sickness and exhaustion. But it's good! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nancy Allen | 11/14/2012

    " A wonderfully complicated murder, this was, with our determined, methodical and intriguing Commander Dalgliesh on the trail of the killer. There were many side stories, and some were quite sad, with glimpses into the lives of bystanders, both guilty and not. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Judi | 10/25/2012

    " Didn't enjoy this one as much as others. Still a good read, though. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 K | 10/17/2012

    " A creepy and relatively juicy Adam Dalgliesh mystery, with murder taking place in an East Anglia forensics lab. My favorite so far. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lisa Barton | 10/9/2012

    " If you like mysteries that aren't the old-school whodunit variety or gumshoe, Sam Spade stuff, but more modern detective novels, I recommend any of P.D. James' Adam Dalgliesh mysteries. They're dark and brooding, very updated Victorian. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Stacie | 9/24/2012

    " Tried and tried to finish this one but just wasn't interested. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sarah | 9/18/2012

    " Not the best Adam Dalgliesh mystery but an entertaining read nonetheless. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marianne | 7/24/2012

    " Not too sure how they came to that conclusion but enjoyed the read "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Abigail | 7/7/2012

    " P.D. James - always well-written, always enjoyable. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Holly | 4/1/2012

    " Found this on a shelf in our house. A much faster read than Midnight's children that's for sure. Finished. It was good. I enjoyed it. Creepy and suspensful, but not scary. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ree | 12/31/2011

    " Another wonderful mystery. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nancy | 12/6/2011

    " I have a soft spot for this one, since it was the first PD James that I read. It is pretty much a perfect book. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Janet | 9/29/2011

    " Didn't remember much of this one. Certainly not one of her best. Book club members who hadn't read her did NOT become fans. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Debbie | 9/3/2011

    " It was ok. Somewhat interesting but pretty two dimensional. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Judi | 7/12/2011

    " Didn't enjoy this one as much as others. Still a good read, though. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sarah | 5/22/2011

    " An exceptionally well-written novel. I couldn't put it down, and was completely surprised by the ending. A very good read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Margie | 3/22/2011

    " I love P.D. James, love her writing, and really enjoyed this book. However, the ending seemed a bit implausible and rushed. "

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

    " Another one of her Adam Dalgliesh mysteries and I thoroughly enjoyed it reading till end. "

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

    " Another vintage mystery by James. If you have a liking for Dalgliesh, you will want to read them all. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jens | 1/16/2011

    " Another classic from P.D. James, somewhat interrupted by my reading it in the midst of delirious sickness and exhaustion. But it's good! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Barbara | 11/12/2010

    " After listening to P.D. James, I always feel I should lower all the starts on my other audio books... She's a great writer who happens to write mysteries. Great audio book! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bernice | 9/20/2010

    " I actually tried to solve this mystery, and I was way off (not a huge surprise). I liked this one because I was surprised by the ending and I thought it moved at a good clip for one of her mysteries (she can give a lot of build up sometimes). A fun read with some deeper themes. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lorraine | 7/8/2010

    " A forensic scientist is found bludgeoned to death at the laboratory in a mansion in East Anglia. Dalgleish and his assistant fly out to investigate. This is a very exciting audio book, with excellent acting by the reader. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Naomi | 7/3/2010

    " This was a good PD James book..not her best, but although I read it almost half a year ago, I can remember it well. With how much I read, that is a sign of a good read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rebecca | 5/19/2010

    " I'm going through some of the Dalgliesh backstock that I'd missed. This was just what you expect from Dame P.D.: an esoteric setting, a satisfying resolution, and characters who seem to have sprung straight from the 1930s into the 90s. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Phil | 5/1/2010

    " As smoothly convoluted a plot; & as deftly created characters, as this reader could desire. The lady can write delightful mysteries! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 David | 3/28/2010

    " Not one of her best works, but still recommended if you enjoy P.D. James. "

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About the Author

P. D. James (1920–2014), English crime writer, was the author of numerous detective novels, many of which were New York Times bestsellers. She spent thirty years in various departments of the British civil service, including the Police and Criminal Law Departments of the Home Office. She has served as a magistrate and as a governor of the BBC. In 2000 she celebrated her eightieth birthday and published her autobiography, Time to Be in Earnest. The recipient of many prizes and honors, she was named Baroness James of Holland Park in 1991.

About the Narrator

Penelope Dellaporta is a published narrator. Some of her published credits include Agatha Christie’s The Secret Adversary and Edith Wharton’s The House Of Mirth.