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The Private Patient (Adam Dalgliesh #14)

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  12,326 Ratings  ·  1,247 Reviews
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 recup ...more
Paperback, 497 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published 2008)
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Sheila Myers As Adam Dalgliesh would probably say, "Murder never makes sense." For the plot of this story, I think the explanation of the motive for the first two…moreAs Adam Dalgliesh would probably say, "Murder never makes sense." For the plot of this story, I think the explanation of the motive for the first two murders makes sense. I'm not so sure I agree with the motive for attempted third murder. Then again, at the end of the book, I was left with the impression that perhaps the killer wasn't the only person involved with the crimes - as if some of the others characters were still hiding some secrets.(less)
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Community Reviews

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Phrynne
Jul 19, 2016 Phrynne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read many Adam Dalgleish novels back in the days when I did not keep a record of my reading. So it seemed right to go to the last one in the series and see what happened to the man over all those years.
And it was nice to see him tying the knot at last as well as solving one last case for us in his inimitable way.
P.D. James is an acquired taste because she does go into an enormous amount of detail. She really wants her reader to see her settings the way she saw them herself and occasionally doe
...more
Nette
Dec 12, 2008 Nette rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this to be so leisurely -- pages-long descriptions of car trips through the countryside, detailed listings of the stuff in every room -- that I had to force myself to finish. But I'm giving it 3 stars because for God's sake, this woman is 88 YEARS OLD. I can barely find my car keys and she's still cranking out byzantine mystery plots.
Jill Hutchinson
You can't go wrong with P.D. James and her Adam Dalgliesh series. As someone mentioned in one of my book clubs, these are not quick reads and have some "meat on the bone". But they are easy reads and the story flows smoothly toward a sometimes susprising denouement.

In this late entry of the series, we find a successful investigative reporter checking into an expensive private plastic surgery clinic to have a disfiguring facial scar removed. All goes well as far as the surgery is concerned but sh
...more
Sara
Jul 08, 2017 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Odd to start out with #14 in a series and be able to say you enjoyed it. I liked the murder mystery. It was intricately woven, with each of the suspects having a lot of plausible reasons to commit the murder and real convictions about "who done it" held at bay until very near the end.

I felt less involved in the Commander and his squad, but that was natural, since this is a relationship that has been building for the reader since book one and book fourteen is obviously well into that relationship
...more
Rebecca
Nov 20, 2008 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who loves a great mystery.
I have been a fan of PD James forever and was sure that with her age, The Ligththouse would be her last Dagliesh novel. I was so happy to see that she had another story in her. I rated this 4 stars as much because I love James and her wonderful language. However, I didn't feel that it was her best book. I sensed that she needed to tie up a bunch of loose ends for her characters. Still, on a scale of 1 to 10, if PD James wrote a book that was not her best, it is still an 9 compared to other myste ...more
Dorothy
When you pick up a P.D. James mystery, you know that you are in the hands of a professional. Cleanly plotted, meticulously detailed, characters revealed layer by layer, hers are the epitome of the "British mysteries" in the tradition of the great Agatha. It is a tradition that I know and love.

"The Private Patient" is her latest entry in the saga of Commander Adam Dalgliesh of New Scotland Yard. It is a police procedural with, as usual, James' touch of humanism.

We find that Dalgliesh is about to
...more
Nat
Dec 29, 2008 Nat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I guess I'm channeling my mother (who died last year). She was an English teacher who loved to read P. D. James' mysteries. When I saw this on the shelf at Borders, I thought of her and bought it. Now I see why she enjoyed reading James' works. She is an excellent writer, rich and visual. Next time I read one of her books I will keep a dictionary at my side. What a fine way to increase my vocabulary! Of all the current murder/mystery writers active today, James is probably the best WRITER of all ...more
Daisy
Jan 05, 2009 Daisy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I only seem to update when I didn't really like a book, but maybe I just want to warn everyone. James started out as such a compelling mystery writer and her prose is still good, but her books have become more and more tedious over time. She's become, I think, far too enamored of her own regular characters and too much of the writing is focused, not only their thoughts and feelings, but of the minutia of their actions. I think it was almost page 200 before we read about an interview with a suspe ...more
Dana Stabenow
Nov 23, 2008 Dana Stabenow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who appreciate good writing.
Recommended to Dana by: Barbara Peters of the Poisoned Pen
I wrote this review for the Poisoned Pen's eNews:

What could be more English than a country house murder? In The Private Patient P.D. James summons up the shades of Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie in murder most foul of a patient at a stately country manor turned medical clinic. Means, motive and opportunity are all on offer for everyone on the premises, from the self-absorbed doctor, the idealistic assistant, the lovelorn nurse, the dispossessed heir and the devoted nanny to the overprotective s
...more
Marisa
Sep 12, 2013 Marisa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
So I have a lot against this book.
First, I've seen reviews that compare this book/author to Agatha Christie and NO, JUST NO. I've read almost every Agatha Christie, some of them several times, and I barely could make myself read two of P.D. James' books (I read the second one because I convinced myself it HAD to get better. Not true).

The character development in this is spectacularly lacking, and the conversations feel forced. The only people I liked were Benton and Kate. The only two character
...more
Shane
Apr 14, 2009 Shane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I decided to read a detective genre fiction book after a long time. An investigative reporter checks into a private clinic to have a scar removed and is murdered - it sounded like a good premise to work from.

I have to credit James, almost ninety, with continuing to write competent police procedural books which peep into the lives of her suspects, criminals and detectives. And yet, I found several aspects that grated on me: the intruding concern for plot summations at various points of the story
...more
Mark
A new departure for me as I was listening to this on my journey last week to Liverpool as an audiobook. It meant as I wound my way through rural Dorset and up into Wiltshire and on up to Bath before finally getting on to the motorway if I got stuck behind those people who only seem to drive once a year and then always in front of me I didn't have the normal frustration that seems to ride personnified as a regular passenger on those journeys. Listening to a well read book made me a more patient d ...more
Rhonda
Feb 14, 2009 Rhonda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
well...it wasn't so much that i didn't like this book, i just wasn't excited about it. there were parts that were too detailed about things that i didn't care about, and there were parts that were fine. i also felt a darkness in the setting and characters, and felt that there wasn't really anyone to like or to relate to. i did think the last few chapters were a little odd - the whole stone thing. what??? ok - i admit that insanity makes people do odd things, but really??? well all i can say is t ...more
Susie
Nov 24, 2008 Susie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ate it up with a spoon. The Baronness is in fine form. The denouement was a little less than gripping, and the end was a little too wrappy-uppy--I was waiting for some final twist that never came. But, I'm not really complaining because the enjoyment was there. I went straight on to the new Elizabeth George, the poor woman's P.D. James.
Barbara
Investigative journalist Rhoda Gradwyn - who's exposed her fair share of secrets - schedules plastic surgery to remove a disfiguring facial scar. Her surgeon, George Chandler-Powell runs a private clinic in his ritzy country estate at Cheverell Manor, where he employs a motley assortment of characters including an assistant surgeon, a manager/housekeeper, a married pair of young chefs, an accountant, a girl from the village, a sexy nurse, an irascible gardener, and so on. The scarred journalist ...more
Bruce
May 23, 2010 Bruce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is another of P.D. James’ Adam Dalgliesh mysteries, the first I’ve read in a few years. I have found that they have always engaged me, although perhaps the more recent ones felt as if they were becoming a bit formulaic - maybe I’d simply read too many in too quick succession. At any rate, beginning The Private Patient I was again reminded of how perceptive James can be, how her interpersonal insights are often acute, especially regarding the subtleties of intimate relationships. And I was a ...more
Joan
I remember reading a couple of Adam Dalgliesh novels years ago and never really getting into them - preferring the television series instead, but I thought I would give them another go, and see if the years had mellowed me (or them)

Apparently not. Here is an example of the sort of writing.

'Rhoda Gradwyn was interesting about apparently unconscious copying of phrases and ideas and the occasional curious coincidences in literature when a strong idea enters simultaneously into two minds as if its
...more
Jennifer
Mar 10, 2009 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I actually read this on my iPhone and it is the perfect portable book. PD James keeps the mystery moving, but still keeps things simple enough to follow so that you can pick up in different spots on the go. I don't think I noticed as much in previous books how uncomfortable her characters are in their lives. She's always kept Dalgliesh somewhat distant, but in this one, where she hints again at this possibly being his last case, we see more of his life and in some ways I got a better sense of hi ...more
Ed
Nov 28, 2008 Ed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: p-d-james
Of the three great post-modern talismans--race, gender, class--P.D. James has chosen class as the ongoing theme of her books, inteweaving discussions of the fine (or not so fine) distinctions shown by accent, birthplace and school into her terrific mysteries.

"The Pivate Patient" has been hoped for by her fans almost since the publication of "The Lighthouse", published in 2006, hit the shelves. James was 80 years old when she finished that one and we didn't know how much longer she could go on.
...more
Eduardo
I have read already three?, four? novels by P. D. James and the impression I always receive is that I like them, no doubt, but nothing else [no flying colors]. They never amaze me. But I would still need to read a few more among her 20 or so works to have a better opinion.
Clare
Listened to in audio format.

In The Private Patient we bid a fond farewell to Commander Adam Dalgleish (AD). His character was first published in 1962 with Cover Her Face to The Private Patient which was published in 2008. AD's career spanned 46 years, I think he deserved to retire with the woman he loves.

Cosmetic Surgeon Mr George Chandler-Powell held a clinic in Cheverell Manor, where the elite could have a nip and tuck and recover in beautiful grounds and seclusion.

Investigative Journalist Rho
...more
Don
Feb 09, 2010 Don rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I've been a fan of James for years, and look forward to reading each new entry into this series featuring the Scotland Yard detecitve Adam Dalgliesh. However, this, her most recent book to be released in paperback, was a serious drag. It wasn't the page-turner good detective novels should be, the actual detecting and puzzle-solving work in the book was extremely light, and the resolution disappointing.

For me, James' strength has always been in her ability to efficiently build profiles of half a
...more
Gerald Sinstadt
Sometimes one simply has to swim against the tide. So here I am resisting the undertow from thousands of P D James fans.

There was a time when the classic 'English' mystery story could maintain a grip. The staple props, country manors, locked rooms, plodding policemen, brilliant detectives, earned their devotees. If Agatha Christie became almost a caricature of herself, John Dickson Carr, Ngaio Marsh, Dorothy Sayers and others carried the torch. It came as a surprise to someone who previously kne
...more
Shelah
Apr 13, 2009 Shelah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

The most interesting thing about PD James's new mystery, The Private Patient, is the uncertain way in which it ends. Baroness James was born in 1920, so she'll be 89 years old this year, but she's been turning out books at the rate of one every two or three years since her first novel was published in 1962, and she hasn't showed signs of stopping, until now. If you really hate spoilers, don't read on, even though nothing I'll say here gives anything away about the mystery of the story, but James
...more
Jessica
Dec 01, 2008 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
There's a reason P.D. James is a master of the well-worn English mystery genre, and The Private Patient is a good example of why. Superficially, this could come straight from Agatha Christie land -- a muckraking journalist checks into a country manor house that has been purchased by a plastic surgeon from the family that could no longer afford to run it for use as a luxury cosmetic surgery clinic, and is murdered the night of her operation. It soon is revealed that many members of the household ...more
Laura
Jun 04, 2010 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bettie, Hayes
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rose
I thought it was a bit too slow-moving with too much detail about irrelevant stuff. I also don't really care about Adam's private life, to be honest, and find the sections about Emma boring.

This might sound harsh, but in some ways James's characters remind me of an autistic boy I work with, because they talk in the way he does - overly and un-naturally precise.

And, my number one pet peeve with PD James is, as usual, Kate and her background. I've talked about it before...it gets no less annoying
...more
Lorraine
I've read some reviews saying that this was not as good as previous novels, but I liked it because I like P.D. James' writing. She has so many potential murderers - everybody has something in their past that makes them suspect. This book takes place at a private hospital on the south coast of England where a famous writer has gone to have a scar removed from her face. That evening, groggy from the anesthetic, the lady is murdered. Dalgleish is called in at an inconvenient time (he had a weekend ...more
Kirsten **Be A Dragon**
A bittersweet moment. I just finished the FINAL Adam Dalgliesh mystery. It is so very sad. I guess part of me thought she would live forever. It certainly felt like that. However, she had a good run -- 94!!

This novel, like her others, is a wonderful mystery. An isolated locale. Once again, the bleakness of the English sea. Myriad characters with myriad motivations. Very enjoyable. I may just have to go back and re-read from the beginning.

I have a glimmer of a hope that they will find a manuscri
...more
Susan from MD
Oct 29, 2011 Susan from MD rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a big fan of P.D. James and of Adam Dalgliesh. The story focuses on the murder of an investigative journalist who went to a clinic outside of London to have plastic surgery to get rid of a prominent scar on her face. Although the book didn't break new ground, it was a really good read, particularly if you have read some of the other books in the series. What I appreciate about P.D. James is that her books are so well written and really rise to the level of "literature" which is not the case ...more
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Lush Library: Has anyone read any PD James? 7 18 Nov 05, 2011 05:20AM  
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P.D. (Phyllis Dorothy) James was the author of over 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 th
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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)
  • Death of an Expert Witness (Adam Dalgliesh #6)
  • A Taste for Death (Adam Dalgliesh #7)
  • Devices and Desires (Adam Dalgliesh #8)
  • Original Sin (Adam Dalgliesh #9)
  • A Certain Justice (Adam Dalgliesh, #10)

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“If the screams of all earth's living creatures were one scream of pain, surely it would shake the stars.” 6 likes
“Snapping shut his mobile, Dalgliesh reflected that murder, a unique crime for which no reparation is ever possible, imposes it own compulsions as well as it's conventions. He doubted whether Macklefield [the murder victim's Will attorney] would have interrupted his country weekend for a less sensational crime. As a young officer he, too, had been touched, if unwillingly and temporarily, by the power of murder to attract even while it appalled and repelled. He had watched how people involved as innocent bystanders, provided they were unburdened by grief or suspicion, were engrossed by homicide, drawn inexorably to the place where the crime had occurred in fascinated disbelief. The crowd and the media who served them had not yet congregated outside the wrought-iron gates of the Manor. But they would come, and he doubted whether Chandler-Powell's [owner of the Manor where the murder was committed] private security team would be able to do more than inconvenience them.” 3 likes
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