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The Murder Room (Adam Dalgliesh #12)

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  7,911 Ratings  ·  492 Reviews
Commander Adam Dalgliesh, P. D. James’s formidable and fascinating detective, returns to find himself enmeshed in a terrifying story of passion and mystery -- and in love.

The Dupayne, a small private museum in London devoted to the interwar years 1919 -- 1939, is in turmoil. As its trustees argue over whether it should be closed, one of them is brutally and mysteriously m
Paperback, 384 pages
Published February 2004 by Faber and Faber (first published 2003)
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Feb 16, 2012 Robin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I struggled to finish this book. It wasn't just that it was not to my taste (and I read a lot of crime novels).

It certainly is not, as it says on the tin, 'Classic, guaranteed to delight all crime addicts.'

We're introduced to commander Dalgliesh in chap 1-2. There then follows 8 or 9 chapters devoted to the background of all the potential culprits – straightforward info-dumping on a mighty scale. The narrative ground to a halt while we get background background background. Then the murder occur
Formulaic, but still entertaining as all get out.

Dalgliesh and Co. are called upon to figure out who's using some famous murders from the 1920's and 30's as templates for a series of murders in and around a small niche museum near Hampstead Heath.

As is usual with a whodunnit from James, there is no shortage of acerbic, depressive and agnostic/atheistic suspects to choose from. Nor is there any doubt that each of these suspects (and for that matter, the detectives) will have their homes (both ext
Sarah Ryburn
Feb 03, 2016 Sarah Ryburn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-suspense
Love James's detective fiction which is more literary than some of the "literary fiction" I find on book store shelves today. Her prose has that reliability that I crave in a novel. Similar to Dickens, really, I can just sit back, read, enjoy, and trust that at no point will she affront me with bad sentence structure, awkward dialogue-jargon attempting to sound "realistic," or even the occasional punctuation malfunction. Flawless. And completely enjoyable. That her subject matter happens to be m ...more
Jul 22, 2016 Amanda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I really liked this at the beginning, the character development especially, but once the murder investigation kicked off I lost some interest. I think Dalgliesh was so seldom in this book I didn't know who he was as a person. I wasn't impressed with some of the techniques James used to unfold the mystery. I wasn't a fan of this but I didn't hate it either.
A reasonable enough mystery, but not top-notch, and with a very contrived feel. What are the chances that an innocent motorist leaving the scene of a copy-cat crime would just happen to say the exact same words that the murderer in the original crime did? The whole book has a similar air of unreality.

I have written in previous reviews of PD James’ books that she has a tendency to go on about particular social issues in an annoying way, in book after book. To this list I will now add drinks. What
This is the second P. D. James book that I read and the book that turned me into a fan. While it is true that James spends a large amount of time setting up her characters, I like that. I enjoy it because when a death occurs, it feels like a death and not a plot point. Too often in murder mysteries the death is forgotten. The victim is simply an agent to get the plot moving. James' never forgets, or lets the reader forget, that someone who had a life died.
Larry Bassett
You have to be patient for the murders to come on

This is my first PD James and it is very English. It did seem like we had to go through all the characters slowly until the first murder. I guess this is part of the series and the lead detective has a history of prior stories. I do not know if it would've been more enjoyable if I would have been dollar jumble of that prior history. The investigative unit is a special one dealing with sensitive information although the details of that information
Commander Adam Dalgliesh is already acquainted with the Dupayne Museum in Hampstead, and with its sinister murder room celebrating notorious crimes committed in the interwar years, when he is called to investigate the killing of one of the trustees. He soon discovers that the victim was seeking to close the museum against the wishes of both staff and fellow trustees.

4* An Unsuitable Job for a Woman (Cordelia Gray, #1)
4* The Skull Beneath The Skin (Cordelia Gray, #2)
4* Innocent Blood
3* The Child
Jul 27, 2012 Lainie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Good lord, this was excruciating. I picked a murder mystery by a well loved author to chase my previous read, which had been the opposite of a page turner. What a disappointment. I realize this is only one of many PD James novels, but it gave me no incentive to try the others. Super slow build, an author who tells you instead of showing you, with interminable descriptions of interiors, faces, gardens, and clothing, none of which are anywhere near relevant to the plot. At some point, I had to sta ...more
Oct 07, 2013 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: discussion-group
I think I'm too much of a snob for good old mystery novels, but nope, I become intrigued and immerse myself in them. After reading The Murder Room for a literature discussion group I found myself checking out five other mysteries by P.D. James. Whodunits are fun!

10-07-2013. I'm glad it's been seven years since I read Murder Room. I don't feel quite so embarrassed to say that I didn't remember anything about it until the scene of the first murder ... and even that reminisence doesn't bring the re
Jul 20, 2010 Jerry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pleasing but "slowish" 16th novel from great British writer...

PD James, "a", if not "the", grand dame of English mystery literature, has given us yet another in the Scotland Yard Commander Adam Dalgliesh series. Fundamentally police procedurals, James' novels typically employ very solid character work and evocative scene setting to channel our thoughts and imagery along many more lines than just the "whodunit" plot at hand. Making some allowances for our author's 83 years of age, we find some o
Apr 01, 2009 Tony rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
James, P.D. THE MURDER ROOM. (2003). *****. Again we meet up with Commander Adam Dalgliesh as he solves the mysterious deaths of two different victims at a museum. The museum is the Dupayne, a museum dedicated to the years between the wars, with rooms celebrating different aspects of their history. There is an art gallery, a library, and – most importantly – a room devoted to the most notorious murders of that time. This room, obviously, was called the Murder Room. The museum was founded by Max ...more
Jennifer Locke
Feb 15, 2015 Jennifer Locke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you're looking for a murder-y type crime book, you can do no better than PD James. This was my second PD James read; I now proclaim myself a fan. The Murder Room is crime fiction that I would put beside any piece of literary fiction out on bookshelves. The writing is complex and nuanced; characters are fully and beautifully realized, and James portrays them all with the utmost sensitivity and respect. The London setting made the book a wonderfully fun read for me, as did Adam Dalgliesh's burg ...more
Jon Stephens
Jan 14, 2016 Jon Stephens rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Murder Room is my first trip with P. D. James, and my first foray into the good ole fashion “Whodunnit” genre of books since I was a kid, and we were trying to find out who made off with the cookies, or which teacher is actually an alien. It was enjoyable, and covered all the core components.

P.D. James has a delightful command of prose. Her language is sophisticated, but easy to read. Descriptions of setting are vivid. She also does a fantastic job at creating very distinct POV’s. Tally Clut
This book took me some time to get into as James is heavy on description and detail and I just wanted her to get on with the story. She won me over though somewhere around two-thirds of the way through. I began to appreciate what at the beginning I found annoying. She definitely has her own style of writing and I can see why she has such a large fan base. My husband likes all of her books that feature Inspector Adam Dalgleisch, the Scotland Yard detective who solves the crimes.
Khris Sellin
Fun police procedural, marred only by the author’s insistence on describing every room everyone walks into in excruciating detail. I think she wants to make sure, if any of her books are made into TV movies (have they been? I don’t know), the set designer will know exactly what kind of throw cushions to buy.
Also, it was kind of a Scooby Doo ending, and I’m still not sure I totally understand the murderer’s motive.
Jun 02, 2015 Lori rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bill Rogers
The Dupayne Museum only has exhibits about the years between the World Wars. To the annoyance of the more serious members of the staff, the most popular exhibit by far is the Murder Room.

As the name suggests, the Murder Room contains photographs and relics of famous murders and murderers of the era. For example, there is an exhibit about Alfred Rouse. Rouse, so it is claimed, wanted to fake his own death. So he picked up an anonymous hitchhiker and burned the man to death in Rouse's own car. Na
2.75 stars. I was encouraged by the TOC, "the people and places," "first victim," "second victim," "third victim"... oooh, three victims! Let's get going! Half the book before the first murder (and the last victim is sort of a freebie). I like a drawn-out prose-y style, but every chapter introducing a new character seemed to first begin with an architectural preamble of the sorts of people who had lived in the character's neighborhood 50 years ago... It was like having a real estate agent repeat ...more
Jun 13, 2016 Kyrie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I liked this book for the characters - at least the good ones. The not so good ones seemed a bit two- dimensional, or maybe they were truly private?

The idea of a small museum, devoted to the period between WWI and WWII in England was an interesting one. How much patronage would a place like that get today? The room focused on the murders was probably a big draw.

I don't know if I wasn't paying enough attention, but I didn't figure out the murderer. I wasn't even sure the first victim was who it
Jun 08, 2016 Debbie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
P.D. James always provides a great story and a thoughtful mystery that is full of twists and turns. This book is no exception. I also love her portrayal of the English landscape or of London, which always makes me feel as if I know the terrain intimately. Her characters are well developed and intelligent.
Jul 26, 2009 Virginia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh I shouldn't give this a four star but I do admire P.D. James so much. She is writing with the same extraordinary skill and high literary standard as ever and she is over eighty. Her books have the unmistakable British patina and her references are cultured as well as up to date. I donm't know how she does it. So her mysteries are a bit formulaic. What mysteries aren't? She has created a couple of the most memorable detectives in the history of mystery fiction. Kudoes to her. I recommend this ...more
My second Dalgliesh mystery. I do enjoy the setting up of the murder and the author's imagery. I picture everything so perfectly my mind. These are a good solid read.
This was my second Dalgliesh mystery, and this time I just couldn't get the same sense from the first I read. As always, James stands out from other modern mystery writers in that she takes a more philosophical view through her detective. As in the last book I read, she highlights the fact that murder is a contaminant, touching more than just murderer and victim. In this book, though, I just felt like she was trying too hard to be thoughtful. Dalgliesh's musings on war and paintings just seemed ...more
Trudy Pomerantz
Aug 01, 2016 Trudy Pomerantz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
p 3 There had been no smoking at the meeting but the room had seemed musty with spent breath and now he took pleasure in breathing fresh air, however briefly. It was a blustery day but unseasonably mild. The bunched clouds were tumbling across a sky of translucent blue and he could have imagined that this was spring except for the autumnal sea-tang of the river -surely half imagined - and the keenness of the buffeting wind as he came out of the station.

p 14 His life was already overburdened; why
Sandra Danby
Written in 2003 this, the 12th in the Adam Dalgliesh crime fiction series by PD James, is preceded by an excerpt from TS Eliot’s poem ‘Burnt Norton’:
‘Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.’
Time is a theme layered throughout this book. Its setting is the Dupayne Museum on Hampstead Heath, so historical time is represented by the exhibits at the museum. Time, recently passed, is examined and re-examined as part of the murder invest
Valerie Penny
P D James along with M C Beaton and Agatha Christie must surely be amongst the traditional royalty of crime writers. Phyllis Dorothy James, Baroness James of Holland Park, OBE, FRSA, FRSL, known as P. D. James, was an English crime writer. She rose to fame for her series of detective novels starring police commander and poet Adam Dalgliesh. She was born in Oxford, England on 3, August 1920 and died there on 27, November 2014. She is is the author of twenty books, most of which have been filmed a ...more
Mar 27, 2015 Debfiddle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-on-tape

Commander Adam Dalgliesh is already acquainted with the Dupayne--a museum dedicated to the interwar years, 1919-1938, with a room celebrating the most notorious murders of that time--when he is called to investigate the killing of one of the family trustees, Dr Nevil Dupayne, burned in the garage in his Jaguar, petrol thrown on him and set afire, burned instantly. He soon discovers that the victim was seeking to close the museum against the wishes of the fellow trustees and the Dupayne's devoted
This is my second book by P.D. James. I had read, Death Comes To Pemberly first. I liked this book, but the detail became rather boring. She took us through the items, and meaning of the items of the museum more than the characters. We never really did find out much about the murder victim. There was certainly a lot of pages ,in between his murder, and the next. The truth is, the back ground she gave us was more about Max, who was the founder of the museum, than anyone. The story between Emma, a ...more
Michael Bradley
Nov 07, 2014 Michael Bradley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been working my way through the Adam Dalgliesh series for the past two years. And, it is no surprise that I am not done yet since P.D. James has written fourteen novels about the New Scotland Yard detective. I recently finished book number twelve, which is called The Murder Room. In Adam Dalgliesh, James has created a truly complex character with an intricate and compelling backstory that has made this series interesting to work through. Dalgliesh is not only a detective in New Scotland Yar ...more
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I was disappointed 1 3 Feb 28, 2016 08:20PM  
  • Death Is Now My Neighbor (Inspector Morse, #12)
  • With No One as Witness (Inspector Lynley, #13)
  • Ruling Passion (Dalziel & Pascoe, #3)
  • A Finer End (Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James, #7)
  • The Old Contemptibles (Richard Jury, #11)
  • The Veiled One (Inspector Wexford, #14)
  • The Echo
  • More Work for the Undertaker (Albert Campion Mystery, #13)
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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
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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“All the motives for murder are covered by four Ls: Love, Lust, Lucre and Loathing.” 5 likes
“It had always been a part of his job which he found difficult, the total lack of privacy for the victim. Murder stripped away more than life itself. The body was parceled, labelled, dissected; address books, diaries, confidential letters, every part of the victim's life was sought out and scrutinized. Alien hands moved among the clothes, picked up and examined the small possessions, recorded and labelled for public view the sad detritus of sometimes pathetic lives.” 4 likes
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