The Private Patient: Book summary and reviews of The Private Patient by P.D. James

The Private Patient

by P.D. James

The Private Patient
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  • Published in USA  Nov 2008
    368 pages
    Genre: Mysteries

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Book Summary

Cheverell Manor is a lovely old house in deepest Dorset, now a private clinic belonging to the famous plastic surgeon George Chandler-Powell. When investigative journalist Rhoda Gradwyn arrived there one late autumn afternoon, scheduled to have a disfiguring and long-standing facial scar removed, she had every expectation of a successful operation and a pleasant week recuperating.

Two days later she was dead, the victim of murder.

To Commander Adam Dalgliesh, who with his team is called in to investigate the case, the mystery at first seems absolute. Few things about it make sense. Yet as the detectives begin probing the lives and backgrounds of those connected with the dead woman—the surgeon, members of the manor staff, close acquaintances—suspects multiply all too rapidly. New confusions arise, including strange historical overtones of madness and a lynching 350 years in the past. Then there is a second murder, and Dalgliesh finds himself confronted by issues even more challenging than innocence or guilt.

P. D. James has gained an enviable reputation for creating detective stories of uncommon depth and intricacy, combined with the sort of humanity and perceptiveness found only in the finest novelists. The Private Patient ranks among her very best.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Against her relentless intellectual view of our dying earth, James pits the love she finally grants Dalgleish - sufficient to reinvigorate hope and faith so rare in both fiction and reality today." - Publishers Weekly.

"The end result is satisfying, if not bittersweet, for both Dalgliesh and the reader." - Library Journal.

"Middling work for the peerless James." - Kirkus Reviews.

"Although she tackles contemporary social issues with relish, James will still use old-fashioned narrative devices dating back to the golden age of crime fiction. That’s because they still work." – Calgary Herald.

"Her skill and vitality are not diminished ... The Private Patient is classic James." – Scotsman.

"This is a book about the way we live now ... James brings a stinging clarity to the complicated goings-on in the Dorset countryside." –The Sunday Times.

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Author Information

P.D. James Author Biography

Photo © Ulla Montan

Phyllis Dorothy James, Baroness James of Holland Park OBE, better known as P. D. James, was born on August 3 1920 in Oxford, the eldest daughter of an Inland Revenue Official. The family moved first to Wales and then, when she was 11, to Cambridge where she attended the Cambridge High School for Girls. Due to financial pressures at home she left school when she was 16, first following her father into the tax office, then working in a theatre where she met her husband, Ernest Connor Bantry White, who was training to be a doctor.

They married in 1941 and had two daughters during the war years - she named her second daughter after her favorite author, Jane Austen. Connor was sent to India during World War II with the Royal Army Medical Corps and returned mentally disabled. He was...

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