Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Review - The Murder Room

The Murder Room by P. D. James
Year: 2003
Genre: Crime fiction, police procedural
My Rating: 3.75/5
My Source: Library

The Dupaynes, two brothers and a sister run an esoteric London museum dedicated to the interwar years. All is well until one of the brothers, Dr. Neville Dupayne, decides not to support the renewal of the lease on the museum, a move that will lead to its closing, and have a very negative impact on several people involved with it. Thus, when Dr. Dupayne is soon found murdered in a horrifying manner, there is more than one person with a motive for the murder. Adam Dalgliesh, assisted by Inspectors Kate Miskin and Piers Tarrant sets out to find the elusive culprit, and soon finds himself not only dealing with stakeholders in the museum, but also other who emerge from Dr. Dupayne's shadowy private life.

P. D. James is the master of character development, and succeeds in creating complex and three dimensional characters in this book. As with any good whodunit, there is a closed list of suspects, and clues interspersed throughout the book. James' narrative is, as usual, very refined and makes for a compelling read.

This book also features the introduction of a new sergeant, Francis Benton- Smith, a very handsome and ambitious young man of English and East Indian parentage. There is some tension in his relationships with Inspectors Miskin and Tarrant, and I look forward to the further development of these relationships in the next book. There are also important developments in Dalgliesh's personal life, though P. D. James takes great care to see that her detective's personal life never, at any point, overshadows the plot of the novel - commendable indeed.

This book is a page turner, and Adam Dalgliesh solves the mystery with a combination of brilliant detecting and hard work. However, while this book is a solid read, it is not P.D. James' best, and is certainly not in the class of "A Taste for Death" my favorite of all of James' work. While James' characters are usually very multifaceted, this book has several characters whom I found hard to sympathize with, and others who were rather annoying. All said, I would recommend this to anyone who is familiar with James and Dalgliesh, but not to anyone who wishes to try reading James for the first time.

This book counts toward the Typically British Book Challenge hosted by BookChickCity.

This review is now part of Cym Lowell's Book Review Party Wednesday for April 21


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. TheBlackSheep - I love PD James too, isn't she great? One of the few characters I began to like while reading this book was Tally, the housekeeper, but I found her with her constant self-doubt, getting a bit annoying toward the middle of the book..

  3. I discovered PD James a number of years ago (I won't say how many), and really enjoy her Dalgliesh series. If only so many British detectives and policemen didn't have so much angst! Thanks for the review.

  4. Nancy - good point - so many of them are filled with angst! The one that comes to mind who seems to be at peace with himself and his surroundings is Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford. Happily married with grown children and grandchildren. Goes to show you can have an interesting detective without him being eccentric or too complex a personality!

  5. Excellent review! I haven't read a Taste for Death but thanks to your reco, I'm putting it on "the list". I'm glad you submitted this to Cym Lowell's review party.