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The Private Patient (Adam Dalgliesh Mysteries) , by P.D. James (Read by Rosalyn Landor)


Although cosmetic surgery carries some degree of risk, that risk doesn't usually include strangulation and death. Rhonda Gradwyn couldn't know that the decision to change her appearance would be the most serious one she would ever make. Opting to have her surgery as a "private patient" in a manor house in the country, rather than in a London clinic, Rhoda, an investigative journalist with more than a few enemies, falls victim to one of them. Because of the high profile nature of the usual clientele of the hospital, Commander Adam Dalgliesh is summoned to the scene of the crime. Upon arriving at Cheverell Manor and interviewing the residents and staff, he learns that several have prior connections to Rhoda and harbor hostile feelings toward her, based on her reporting of events in their lives. Perhaps the most dangerous force in the manor is the manor itself. The prehistoric Cheverell Stones area of the manor grounds was the scene of witchcraft and treachery in prior times. Now lights can be seen among the stones late at night, and the villagers once again suspect that the evil that has occurred at Cheverell Manor is the result of a centuries old curse. However, Adam Dalgliesh believes it's an inside job and uses all of his deductive skills to expose the guilty.

P. D. James does not disappoint in this 14th and maybe final Adam Dalgliesh mystery. The inscrutable but likable detective reveals noteworthy glimpses of his past as he responds to the events at Cheverell Manor. His associates, Kate Miskin and Benton, also emerge as more fully defined characters. Although this book appears to be a classic English mystery, there is nothing ordinary about P.D. James' ability to develop an intricate plot that is acted out by complex characters. This exemplary author is joined by a talented reader, Rosalyn Landor. Landor's portrayals of characters with a wide range of social status and the speech patterns typical of each, both male and female, is impressive. Her delivery is so seamless, that the listener could easily forget that all the voices are coming from one source.

Just as Landor's character portrayal is entertaining, it's a joy to listen to P.D. James' descriptive prose. Among the evocative passages, James makes the listener see the English gardens and smell the furniture polish in the ornately decorated ancestral home. Tantalizing aromas waft from the kitchen as she describes the gourmet delights the cooks prepare for the manor residents. Her combination of sensory phenomena, complex characters and engaging plot, read by a gifted actress makes this an audio book to treasure and to enjoy again and again.

Ruth Mormon
11/16/09

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