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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (3,942 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: December 2008 ISBN: 9781415959428
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Maurice Seton was a famous mystery writer—but no murder from his imagination could equal the ghastliness of his own death. When his grotesquely mutilated corpse is found in a drifting dinghy, ripples of horror spread among his bizarre neighbors: the cruel and cynical drama critic, the celebrated recluse, and the rakish young heir. It is up to Superintendent Adam Dalgliesh and his extraordinary aunt to discover the shocking truth about Seton’s past—before the plot takes another murderous turn.

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Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Katie | 2/20/2014

    " the first p.d. james book i read was i think her newest one, "the private patient." and it was so good. SO good. so much better than any other mystery i've ever read. and i've read a few more of hers & loved them... i love that each book she has a totally new cast of suspects but they're all such full characters by the time you get to the end. anyway this one disappointed me, it's one of the earlier ones and i don't think the cast is as interesting and the end felt like SUCH a cheat. but i am glad i read it because it is a good reminder that most people don't start out being good at things but they get better at things over time and that even into her 80s she can still be improving on her work. so... i guess given that i'm almost out of my 20s that's reassuring, like, it's not too late to become good at things. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Annie | 2/17/2014

    " My 4th PD James. Still loving her. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kristine | 2/16/2014

    " Number 4 in the Adam Dalgleish series. I am reading them all. Really interesting character developement. And the end who did it was crazy! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jan | 2/15/2014

    " Interesting plot, and great characters. A little long winded in places, but good. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Virginia | 2/15/2014

    " The first book I read by PD James. The mystery was so so, but there were some great characters. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Phil | 2/12/2014

    " Early PD James, enjoyable but not near to her best. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ann M | 2/8/2014

    " I'd give this book four stars for its writing but I really disliked one thing about it. The entire mystery is summed up in the final few pages, by a confession, no less, and there aren't any clues before that. It's almost as if anyone could have "dunnit." Her later work is much more graceful and enticing, what I've read of it. This is from 1967. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 2bnallegory | 2/5/2014

    " Picked up at a used book store, so far a good read. The story really kept my attention and will try and find some more of this series. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michael Anson | 2/3/2014

    " As a general rule, I love nearly anything by P.D. James. She is my favorite mystery author, but this is definitely not her best work. It is still enjoyable but it is not as well-developed and intricate as her other books. There's less intricate character development as her later works, but I did indeed like it enough to say it's a fun read if you're looking for escapist literature. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Charlotte | 1/31/2014

    " This was interesting from the point of view of the character development of Adam Dagliesh, but I did not enjoy the structure as much as her newer books. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bethany | 1/20/2014

    " I think I'm the newest fan of P.D. James. I like her simple, straight-forward style and how her books are plot-driven (a must for a mystery in my opinion). I like that this one was clean with a little British lingo thrown in. Sorry to all of you non-mystery fans who will be reading my reviews of her books in the months to come and thank you to those who recommended her! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alice | 1/19/2014

    " PD James is a solid mystery writer, a little more modern than Agatha Christie. She seems to have one annoying ongoing tic of having the murderer make a full confession with all the details by letter at the end of the book, but it's still a good read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Melissa | 1/19/2014

    " This is my fourth P.D. James novel, and third in the Adam Dalgliesh series. I've enjoyed all of the books so far, but up until now, none had surpassed the first James novel I'd read, "An Unsuitable Job for a Woman," which is the first of the two Cordelia Gray novels. I decided to start at the beginning, though, and while I found the first Dalgleish novel enjoyable, Dalgleish himself was still very much a cipher, with one or two intriguing hint dropped about his past. The second novel was a bit more revealing, but in this third novel, Dalgleish is fully formed, complex, and for the most part sympathetic (he has some really unappealing qualities too, which add to the character's complexity). I think it helps that as readers we get to see Dalgleish off the job for a bit, as he anticipates a much-earned holiday with his aunt, Jane Dalgleish, an interesting and complex character in her own right. In this novel Dalgliesh is at his most human thus far, and I look forward to seeing the character further develop as I read the rest of the series. The mystery in this novel is compelling, but even more enjoyable for me was seeing the way the community responded to the murder,and the relationships and hostilities that existed amongst long-time neighbors. Best of all for me were the literary pretensions and disputes that seemed to flourish in the small community of novelists and critics that makes up a large part of the list of suspects. James is engaging in some satire here, and it's fun to read. I highly suggest reading this series, and to keep going even if you're not blown over by the first book. I had a hard time putting down "Unnatural Causes," and I'm glad that there are still eleven more books for me to enjoy in this very enjoyable series. "

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

    " Dalgliesh is supposed to be on vacation when a crime breaks up his leisurely interlude. A mystery writer is found at the bottom of a dinghy, dead and with both hands chopped off. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sheila | 1/9/2014

    " Good even the second time around. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Darla | 1/4/2014

    " This was a good one. I really had no idea whodunnit until the very end. "

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

    " Not her best - but it was enjoyable and quick read - excellent for a day at the beach. Seemed like she was trying to be Agatha Christie - and that's not her strenth "

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

    " If your are a P.D. James fan, you'll enjoy this. I found the "murderer's confession" at the end a tad tedious, but other than that it was good. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Susan | 12/4/2013

    " I really like P.D. James mysteries. Adam Dalgleish is the detective and the books are well-written. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Aimee | 11/23/2013

    " I like PD James but this wasn't her best effort. The entire last chapter was the murderer's confession and explanation that he/she had inexplicably recorded. What a cop out. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rob | 11/23/2013

    " New feature of retirement - reading mysteries! Not my genre but P D James very well written. See also PBS. this one cleverly takes place within a community of mystery writers. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Michael Bradley | 11/4/2013

    " It is sad to say that I thought this was one of the weaker Adam Dalgliesh stories. I found the book to be slow in far too many spots. It was a decent read, but far from being one of the better books in the series. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carol Rose Stark Neal | 10/31/2013

    " Adam Dalgliesh mystery. Mystery writer is found at bottom of dingy with both hands removed from body. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Naomi | 10/5/2013

    " Loved, Loved, Loved this book..probably my favorite PD James book in the series,even now that I am further along in it. Just good readin' "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sharman Wilson | 7/26/2013

    " Brent and I listened to this on our trip to Salt Lake. P.D. James is an incredible mystery writer. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Karen | 7/15/2013

    " Pretty good mystery up until the end. The method of revealing the killer was too pat (confession tape conveniently shows up after the killer was accidentally killed) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jess | 6/27/2013

    " Self-referential and delightful. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Margaret | 5/13/2013

    " Of course Adam's vacation is ruined by a murder. Well done. I did have trouble with the names because I was listening rather than reading. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Remy Kothe | 2/28/2013

    " I really like PD James . Very good writing and good characters. This one was a bit plodding and I think that prefer James' non-Dalgleish books. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Troy Freeman | 1/16/2013

    " better than the first two "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Troy Freeman | 1/7/2013

    " better than the first two "

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

    " A satisfying Adam Dalgliesh Mystery. Plenty of unlikable characters who had reason to kill someone who kind of deserved it. The hints are fairly laid out as to how a mysterious death was accomplished. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Renee | 6/14/2012

    " rather gory.... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shawna | 5/25/2012

    " Needed a return to Dalgliesh. Definitely a key piece in understanding him. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Christine Peterson | 12/29/2011

    " What a twist! I thought I had it figured out-then, surprise! I love her books! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Meghan | 12/15/2011

    " Not my favorite PD James but still quite good! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Judi | 10/20/2011

    " Another winner by P.D. James. She never disappoints me. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Michael Bradley | 9/27/2011

    " It is sad to say that I thought this was one of the weaker Adam Dalgliesh stories. I found the book to be slow in far too many spots. It was a decent read, but far from being one of the better books in the series. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Caelin | 6/11/2011

    " Her detective books are my absolute favourites. What more can I say? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Karen | 5/25/2011

    " This was one of the most intriguing mysteries I've read in a while. It's great when you can't guess who did it, how it was done, or even how the victim died! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Debbie Howell | 4/26/2011

    " Delicious mystery. Set in a tiny community of literary types by the sea in England, lots of animosity, jealousy, and secrets. Just creepy enough. Third Adam Dalgleish mystery, and you can see the development of that character in this one--complex, brooding, ambivalent toward his calling. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carol Rose Stark | 2/28/2011

    " Adam Dalgliesh mystery. Mystery writer is found at bottom of dingy with both hands removed from body. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sharman | 11/2/2010

    " Brent and I listened to this on our trip to Salt Lake. P.D. James is an incredible mystery writer. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jennifer | 7/28/2010

    " This had an interesting end...a confession on tape that explained how everything was accomplished and tied up all loose ends. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Naomi | 7/3/2010

    " Loved, Loved, Loved this book..probably my favorite PD James book in the series,even now that I am further along in it. Just good readin' "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sergey | 3/20/2010

    " Well written, but not very well explained how Dalgliesh concluded of the murderer's identity, mode of murder. And I'm still not clear why Seton was murdered, even after a lengthy taped confession. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Troy | 3/16/2010

    " better than the first two "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shawna | 3/9/2010

    " Needed a return to Dalgliesh. Definitely a key piece in understanding him. "

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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.
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.