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Death Of An Expert Witness (Adam Dalgliesh, #6)
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Death Of An Expert Witness (Adam Dalgliesh #6)

3.98  ·  Rating Details  ·  7,111 Ratings  ·  248 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 November 1st 1985 by Warner Books (NY) (first published 1977)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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booklady
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
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Karin
During the investigation of a local murder, we are introduced to the people who work at Hoggart's Laboratory, a forensic laboratory written and set in the 1970s. Dr. Lorrimer, who will, of course, be murdered (it's in the book description) is not at all likable, and we have been introduced to a slew of people with possible motive, and not one of them particularly endearing. Adam Dalgleish enters the picture in the second part of the book; there is nothing endearing about him, either, although hi ...more
Felicity
Jun 12, 2008 Felicity rated it really liked it  ·  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
Kate
Nov 20, 2007 Kate rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kate by: Mulzer
Open letter to P.D. James:

You are smart.

Stop trying to prove it.

THX!

Also:

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
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Karin
May 21, 2016 Karin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
During the investigation of a local murder, we are introduced to the people who work at Hoggart's Laboratory, a forensic laboratory written and set in the 1970s. Dr. Lorrimer, who will, of course, be murdered (it's in the book description) is not at all likable, and we have been introduced to a slew of people with possible motive, and not one of them particularly endearing. Adam Dalgleish enters the picture in the second part of the book; there is nothing endearing about him, either, although hi ...more
Fiona
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
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Johnny
May 17, 2010 Johnny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
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
Melissa
Mar 28, 2009 Melissa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Lobstergirl
Mar 28, 2011 Lobstergirl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
John
Mar 20, 2009 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
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
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Katharine
Dec 19, 2008 Katharine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
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
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Dakota
Book Death of an Expert Witness by P.D. James

This is no laughing matter that's why the Scottland Yard has been called to a murder. There is also someone involved that is not liked Dr. Lorrimer. The list of people that don't like him are the Scottland Yard Detectives.

What they really want to know is how this murder happened. They also want to know who but they are sure that it is the one that is most hated in the Commuinty Dr. Lorrimer. They really didn't ask where was he the night of it.

What I l
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Sandra Danby
Oct 01, 2015 Sandra Danby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction
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
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Danielle
Sep 09, 2015 Danielle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Velma
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.
Daniel
Nov 19, 2015 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Sacapsie
Nov 20, 2015 Sacapsie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Kimberly
Oct 16, 2015 Kimberly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
John
Jun 27, 2011 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Lisa (Harmonybites)
Jun 20, 2011 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mystery Fans
I'm afraid I found this rather lackluster despite James' reputation as a first-rate, literate mystery writer. It's the second book I've read by P.D. James, my first being the first Adam Dalgiesh mystery, Cover Her Face, which I found similarly unimpressive. I did think this mystery better constructed, one which, unlike that other one, held together with no holes I could find. But it's a rather unremarkable architecture, like a sturdy generic suburban house indistinguishable from others on the st ...more
Stven
Dec 17, 2015 Stven rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent Adam Dalgliesh mystery which borders on the outstanding. P.D. James has taken her usual care to create a memorable and distinctive setting for her story, a prestigious criminal investigation laboratory in the remote fen country of England. Most of her characters are similarly distinctive, but somehow she seems to present just two or three too many and I find myself halfway through the book wondering "Who is this person, anyway?" If it's part of her strategy to make the murde ...more
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.
Kyrie
Jun 10, 2015 Kyrie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I like the way she describes things - which is good because there's a lot of description in her tales. I think it's just enough without bogging down the tale.

This one is about a group of scientists working in a crime lab in a small village. There's a lot of human interactions that make nearly everyone a candidate for being the murderer. It's an odd mix up of people related to the victim and people who work with the victim, and the oddest ones seem to like him.

It's not the story though, as much
...more
Bruce Mcgregor
Oct 10, 2015 Bruce Mcgregor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Katherine
Jan 04, 2015 Katherine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Max
Nov 26, 2010 Max rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As much a social commentary as it is a murder mystery, this novel is primarily a document of the turbulent conditions in Britain when it was written. Most of the characters, pushed beyond the edge by economic, familial, and romantic woes, could plausibly have committed the central murder—all it took was a slight push to send the killer over the edge. The rich cast of characters crowd out the purported protagonist, who gets such a small amount of characterization that I felt like I knew nothing a ...more
Amanda
Mar 06, 2014 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun thing about finally unpacking boxes of books, many of which have been in storage for a long time - rediscovering old favorites.
Moira
Jan 16, 2009 Moira rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
P. D. James is unquestionably a great writer. And this was a very interesting book. My only problem with her stories is that there aren't enough clues, and as a result the resolution takes a lot of explanation because the reader needs to learn a lot of information. I am not very good at solving mysteries, even after spending most of my life reading them, but I like at least a fighting chance, and I don't feel I really get that with her books. Still, they are so beautifully written, with fabulous ...more
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.
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Play Book Tag: Death of an Expert Witness book 6 of Inspector Dalgliesh series by P.D. James ★★★ 3 6 May 21, 2016 06:52PM  
Please combine 1 4 Aug 17, 2015 11:05PM  
  • A Killing Kindness (Dalziel & Pascoe, #6)
  • A Traitor to Memory (Inspector Lynley, #11)
  • Murder Being Once Done (Inspector Wexford, #7)
  • The Way Through The Woods (Inspector Morse, #10)
  • Colour Scheme (Roderick Alleyn, #12)
  • The Old Fox Deceiv'd (Richard Jury, #2)
  • Dreaming of the Bones (Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James, #5)
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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
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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)

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