Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Death Of An Expert Witness” as Want to Read:
Death Of An Expert Witness
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Death Of An Expert Witness (Adam Dalgliesh #6)

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  6,452 ratings  ·  227 reviews
Dr. Lorrimer appeared to be the picture of a bloodless, coldly efficient scientist. Only when his brutally slain body is discovered and his secret past dissected does the image begin to change. Once again, Chief Inspector Adam Dalgliesh learns that there is more to human beings than meets the eye -- and more to solving a murder than the obvious clues.
Paperback, 352 pages
Published February 1996 by Warner Books (NY) (first published 1977)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Death Of An Expert Witness, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Death Of An Expert Witness

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
It's unfortunate Commander Adam Dalgliesh doesn't have amusing personality quirks or foibles which would endear him to readers the way many of the most beloved fictional sleuths do. Well he does write poetry but unfortunately, that's not the sort of hobby most people can relate to, more's the pity. And even that unusual side of him wasn't especially relevant to Death of an Expert Witness.

This was my sixth P. D. James mystery about the illustrious and aloof commander who is a long time widower a
Jun 12, 2008 Felicity rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mystery lovers
(notes while reading:) One of the reasons P.D. James is so great is utterly simple. She writes a murder mystery like it's a novel. This sounds facile, but it's unusual, often a hallmark of greatness like James's or Josephine Tey's. In this book, for example, the discovery of the body is written, not in order to give us all the details, clues and red herrings, of the body's condition, but as a truly traumatic event in the life of an established character, a rather sheltered young woman. This is w ...more
This took a while to get into.

There is a reason PD James is so well-known as a mystery writer - she knows what she's doing, and she's good at it. The woman can craft a mystery. I hear from various places that this wasn't one of her best, though, and I'm quite glad to hear that, because sorry, PD, but this wasn't really for me.

It started off with the mother of all info-dumps. I find it very sad when mystery novels start off like this. It is easy to overdo it completely, and this overdid it comple
The murderer in Death of an Expert Witness by P. D. James is one for which we rightly should expect to show some empathy, if not sympathy. The murderer is a victim as well as a perpetrator. That being said, I haven’t given anything away. Every suspect in this novel has some emotional baggage that might or might not have caused them to kill the deceased. Even the eventual victim who inspires such angst and ire among his co-workers is not one for which I could withhold my sympathy. I could underst ...more
Nov 20, 2007 Kate rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kate by: Mulzer
Open letter to P.D. James:

You are smart.

Stop trying to prove it.



I really feel like there's a good mystery somewhere in that brain of hers. Reading this book was peeling back layers of mediocre material to arrive at something good; ultimately, the central crimes were interesting. But she diluted the effect with too many obvious red herrings, too many equally potent motives, too many unnecessary details and, perhaps most importantly, not enough trust in the reader (for example, when the t
A chalk outline on the laboratory floor marks the spot where Dr. Edwin Lorrimer, an expert witness for the police department, is found murdered. It happened after hours in Hoggart's Forensic Laboratory with the security locks in place. Dr. Lorrimer was clubbed to death.

Commander Adam Dalgliesh is called to East Anglia near Cambridge to solve the murder among the community of forensic scientists who know the ends and outs of destroying evidence and misleading investigators.

P.D. James introduces t
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 t ...more
This was not my favorite of James' books. The extensive cast of characters and their interconnected lives were not only confusing, but also pushed too far beyond the edge of plausible. Certainly happenstance, family ties and being in the right place at the right (or wrong) time is the keystone to most great mystery stories, but James' overachievement in this area made less of her talent. James set up a story with 30+ characters, and then defaulted to creating complicated sexual histories in ord ...more
I wanted an easy and short read after completing War and Peace and reached for a murder mystery by an author I'd never read before. I didn't know what to expect, though P.D. James is a highly acclaimed mystery writer.

The book began with a flurry of character introductions, some of which required some pretty ugly dialogue (think George Lucas ugly). But once the story got going I became absorbed by all the twists and secrets revealed as a result of the murder investigation.

The last half of the b
Sandra Danby
What a great title. Ask most people to name a PD James novel, and this is probably it.

A gloriously convoluted plot surrounding a Fens village, a forensic science laboratory, and a tightly-knit community linked in ways the reader cannot forsee. The clues are there but each is so fleetingly mentioned, so parsimonious, and so intertwined, that you will forget each and discount its importance. When the senior biologist at Hoggatt’s Laboratory is found dead, New Scotland Yard is called in. Commander
A forensic biologist is found dead in his lab. There is no shortage of suspects and motives, and Adam Dalgliesh is on the case.

This is the first Adam Dalgliesh mystery I've read by James and I'm happy to say that I've found a new mystery writer to follow. As I read this book, I was struck by the human element that James brings to the story. There is no unrealistic lone wolf detective (which is so common in many mystery novels) or maniacal killer. There are simply people with shortcomings and pas
This is P.D. James? Wow. Not all it's cracked up to be, that's for sure. Read it in a nod to her recent passing; wish I had something nice to say about it. Heard a rumor that this isn't her best work, so today I picked up Cover Her Face, the first in the Adam Dalgliesh series, & I'll give it a shot for a second chance at my reading affections.
Kimberly Hall
I started out listening to the audio book version of Death of an Expert Witness. However, I quickly switched over to a hard copy borrowed from my local library. What a good choice! I fell in love with P.D. James when I read one of the later Dalgliesh mysteries. I quickly decided to start from the beginning of the series. I ALMOST changed my mind after the last couple books because I found them a little boring. After the first chapter in this one, I felt the same. I decided to see if the narrator ...more
Paula Dembeck
This is the sixth in the Adam Dalgliesh detective series.

In this mystery the crime scene is the Hoggart Forensic Science Laboratory in East Anglia near Cambridge. Dr. Edwin Lorrimer a respected, intelligent and efficient scientist has been found bludgeoned to death in his own lab. Commander Dalgliesh is called in to help investigate the murder and for the second time we meet Inspector John Massingham who has come to assist him. What they find is a host of witnesses and suspects who all seem to h
Very enjoyable read, but very focused on the mystery. Dalgliesh is a tough protagonist to enjoy sometimes, but his personal life (such as it is) comes through a little more here. James is playing the long game with this character, there's an assumption that we have plenty of time to get to know him (and six books in, she's not wrong) The suspects are interesting and the motives many. On a technical level, the story is very well-designed.

My trouble was getting invested in the story: The victim is
After Postern of Fate I decided to try my first-ever PD James. My library has a pretty miserable selection so I wasn't able to find any of her first novels, though I like to try to read in order where possible. The earliest one available was Death of an Expert Witness , so that's the one I got.

It was a delight to read this mystery, especially as a change from the mediocre and pedestrian Postern of Fate. The writing is very good and the mystery well-constructed with detail after detail falling
Katherine Clark
I think this is my favorite James novel so far. She really is superb in all of her mysteries in the first half. I do think this one, as for me nearly all of them, goes down hill about a 1/4 before the end. And it is very sad. She has a way of creating sympathy for her characters. Her descriptions of them are so personal/intimate. I like that a lot and will try to do this too. This one was so good I'm moving right into the next on the list. 3 1/2 stars.
Bruce Mcgregor
It was a pleasant diversion. I watch more mysteries than I read because when I read I want to learn. Albeit you can always learn something from a British writers vocabulary and P.D. James was no exception. An enjoyable book.
What fun it is to read a P.D. James mystery. Serious, brooding, artful, poetic - all of these adjectives describe Inspector Dalgliesh very well, but also the tone of P.D. James' mysteries in general. The puzzles are always good too, and this one is no exception.
Fun thing about finally unpacking boxes of books, many of which have been in storage for a long time - rediscovering old favorites.
Jan C
Possibly 1\2. But it looks as though my rating is about the same as the first time I read it. No memory of the resolution of this book. Maybe it was the fact that I didn't hear it all at one time. It had to go back to the library for a while. So I may have forgotten part of the beginning of the book while I waited to get it again.

Still working my way through P.D. James. A Taste for Death is next.
This is my fifth P.D. James book--I keep looking for a good mystery writer, and she has a reputation. I am sorry to say that this is the end of the line, though. I seem to have started with the worst possible book--that Pride and Prejudice thing--which I stopped reading in utter horror around page 20. I am a Jane Austen fan, and I have my pride. Then I tried the two Cordelia Gray books, An Unsuitable Job for a Woman and The Skull Beneath The Skin. Well, those two had a somewhat feeble female lea ...more
Sharon Hattingh
I'll always mourn the passing of one of our last REAL literary giants. PD James may have departed this world last November, but her amazing gift to us will last for generations to come. Once again a powerful read, where one can spend time with well-loved (or rather, well RESPECTED) people. Somehow I cannot imagine anyone ever having the guts to love Adam Dalgliesh....despite his relationship with sounds too small a word, too improper, for a gentleman like AD....too messy, if you will ...more
One of the longer of P. D. James' Commander Adam Dalgliesh mysteries (and #6 in the series), this well written and intricately plotted story set in a police crime lab in an old estate out in the fens will keep you guessing as usual but also this time one crucial clue is kept back from the reader after Dalgliesh has access to the information. The murder victim is a horrible individual, yet as we slowly find out what pain has brought him to act so insufferably we can understand why he was so unbea ...more
A short take:

I love the rhythm of a PD James mystery plot: the deliberate introduction of a varied cast and their multiple motivations, the sudden crime, the appearance of Dalgliesh and the gradual progression of the investigation. Dalgliesh ruminates that a police investigation lays bare the lives of the people who are touched by a homicide, and this fact motivates much of the story. I very much like PD James' style and her protagonist.

More thoughts:

It occurs to me that the mystery genre can be
Now I think about it, I'm surprised it took me this long to get to PD James. Classic British mystery writer, yes? I had no desire to read "An Unsuitable Job for a Woman," because I saw a TV adaptation and found myself frustrated that Cordelia, out to prove that she COULD TOO be a PI, stumbled into all her answers rather than actually, you know, detecting. Voice of authority told me the book was the same in that respect. But I was at the library, the book was in paperback, and I said, what the he ...more
This is the 6th Adam Dalgliesh book by PD James. Like the 5 that went before it, it feels dated. It was written in 1976/77, so that probably shouldn't be surprising.

In this book, a biologist working for the Forensic Science Service is killed in his lab in East Anglia, and it's Dalgliesh's responsibility to find out who did it, along with the murderer who killed a subsequent person in the book.

Personally, the datedness wasn't that much of a problem for me. What bugged me was that it was a little
Dale Minner
An obituary of mystery author P. D. James appeared in the newspapers in November 2014. She wrote mysteries for decades, right up until a few months before her death at age 94. The notice mentioned that she had won almost every major literary award in Great Britain over the years. Since I have read six of her works, including "Death of an Expert Witness." Her ability to write lucid descriptions of surroundings was at first a bit off putting for me. That is until I began notice both the skill with ...more
Death of An Expert Witness by P.D. James is the sixth Adam Dalgliesh novel. This one concerns the staff and security forces of a forensics lab. It has the appearances of a locked room mystery except in this case a “locked lab facility”. Dalgliesh has to sort through a plethora of suspects with varying motives for dispatching the unlikeable, but pitiable Dr. Lorrimer. I have been reading my way through the Adam Dalgliesh series and I would have to say of the ones I have read so far this was not m ...more
Bill Rogers
Another enjoyable Adam Dalgliesh mystery. The special interest is that the murder being investigated-- for once, not the one that starts the story-- is in a criminology lab, among persons who would know how to stage such a crime and how to cover it up.

I am not sure that I like that Dalgliesh has become elite, heading a special squad meant to investigate the more difficult and sensitive crimes. I personally prefer the workaday police officer who makes the occasional mistake. Dalgliesh has made mi
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Please combine 1 2 Aug 17, 2015 11:05PM  
  • A Killing Kindness (Dalziel & Pascoe, #6)
  • Payment in Blood (Inspector Lynley, #2)
  • The Way Through The Woods (Inspector Morse, #10)
  • Kissing the Gunner's Daughter (Inspector Wexford, #15)
  • Death and the Dancing Footman (Roderick Alleyn, #11)
  • The Old Fox Deceiv'd (Richard Jury, #2)
Official Facebook fan page

P. D. (Phyllis Dorothy) James was the author of twenty books, most of which have been filmed and broadcast on television in the United States and other countries. She spent thirty years in various departments of the British Civil Service, including the Police and Criminal Law Department of Great Britain's Home Office. She served as a magistrate and as a governor of the BB
More about P.D. James...

Other Books in the Series

Adam Dalgliesh (1 - 10 of 14 books)
  • Cover Her Face (Adam Dalgliesh, #1)
  • A Mind to Murder (Adam Dalgliesh, #2)
  • Unnatural Causes (Adam Dalgliesh, #3)
  • Shroud for a Nightingale (Adam Dalgliesh, #4)
  • The Black Tower (Adam Dalgliesh, #5)
  • A Taste for Death (Adam Dalgliesh, #7)
  • Devices and Desires (Adam Dalgliesh, #8)
  • Original Sin (Adam Dalgliesh, #9)
  • A Certain Justice (Adam Dalgliesh, #10)
  • Death in Holy Orders (Adam Dalgliesh, #11)

Share This Book

“pedimented doors to right and left, an oil painting of the” 0 likes
More quotes…