The Black Tower
P.D. James
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The Black Tower (Adam Dalgliesh #5)

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  7,184 ratings  ·  190 reviews

Commander Dalgliesh is recuperating from a life-threatening illness when he receives a call for advice from an elderly friend who works as a chaplain in a home for the disabled on the Dorset coast. Dalgliesh arrives to discover that Father Baddeley has recently and mysteriously died, as has one of the patients at Toynton Grange. Evidently the home is not quite the caring c

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Published January 1st 1996 by Chivers Audio Books (first published 1975)
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P.D. James begins this 1975 mystery with a medical misdiagnosis of Adam Dalgliesh, Scotland Yard Detective. Doctors have labeled his ailment leukemia, a life-threatening disease that focuses Adam's mind on his mortality. Would he rather spend his life writing poetry and listening to Vivaldi recordings on the stereo instead of putting himself daily in harms way?

On an extended convalescence leave, Dalgliesh accepts an invitation from Father Baddeley, Chaplain of Toynton Grange on the Dorset coast...more
Continuing my investigation of a new author for me, I got a couple more PD James novels at the library. I'm beginning to come to the conclusion that James is not worth reading when she tries to be deep and thought-provoking and to elucidate Serious Themes. Because she just comes across as ponderous, self-important, and well, boring.

The Black Tower is an okay mystery, I guess, but I had a really hard time getting into the story and as it progressed I wasn't particularly entertained. The writing...more
Matthew L.
Hoo boy.

This book is the definition of the word slow. It is a convalescence book about a character to whom I had little to no connection. I wonder if I would have felt differently if I had read any other books starring Adam Dalgliesh, but I didn't and I found the references to the case he was recovering from kind of irritating. Like an in-joke to which I wasn't privy.

I loved the sense of the solitude and reduced speed of Dorset, but it took too long to get to the action and I had very little att...more
This is possibly one of James's most introspective and well-handled mysteries. Recovering from a severe illness and newly aware of his mortality, Adam Dalgliesh makes the decision to leave the police force. Before returning to tender his resignation, however, he decides to visit an old friend who has written him alluding to a need for advice. Father Michael is the chaplain at Toynton Grange, a home for the "young disabled" in Dorset, and it seems like as good a place as any to convalesce. When D...more
Rather disappointing. I picked this book up at a book sale for a song, mostly because the cover advertised the book as "Agatha Christie's Crown Princess" and being a Christie fan I thought I'd try it out. The story was long, boring, and the mystery easy to figure out. Very few of the characters had any appeal to me and quite honestly, I skipped parts just to get through to the end. Sorry to say, I don't think I'll try any more of PD James's books.
I don't understand how anyone can like this book.

Take the spitefulness of Melrose Place, add the sex appeal of Confederacy of Dunces, and sprinkle on the inanity of a Jane Austen heroine (none of it in a good way) and you've got The Black Tower. Who would ever do any of the things that the characters do in this book? And they do boring things, by the way, nonsensically boring - the worst kind of boring. Let's eat together every night in silence except for we'll take turns reading boring stuff a...more
I picked up this book hoping to find another murder-mystery author I could enjoy as much as I do Christie.
This book takes place in a nursing home for the invalid. Where people are killed off one after the other is what seem like accidents. Inspector Dalgliesh slowly tries to pu pieces together and get to the bottom of the killings.
The plot is tedious. The narrative creaks and groans and whimpers and almost left me in a stupor.
And having reached the end of the book I'm surprised I made it till t...more
Jul 27, 2008 booklady rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mystery lovers
Shelves: 2008, crime, mystery
The best I've read by James yet. Not sure if James or Inspector Dalgliesh are growing on me. Both are acquired tastes I'm convinced of that. The fact that James is a subtle writer and Adam is a not very charming sleuth don't really explain anything...or do they? In this story, we catch a few more glimpses into the mysterious character of our detective. I find myself liking Adam in spite of himself, or is it because I feel sorry for him? He's brilliant, cold, aloof, calculating and a born investi...more
As a child, I fed on mystery stories. Be they Famous fives or Secret Seven... I joined hands with the Three Investigators, deciphering clue after clue and wished from the bottom of my heart that I had a boyfriend as charming as Ned Nickerson from Nancy Drew. As I grew up, my diet changed and I was introduced to Agatha Christies, Erle Stanley Gardeners and Marry Higgins Clark who kept me on the edge of my seat and biting my nails till there were none left.

And then came along P.D. James; an author...more
The usual PD James. Great Dalgliesh but a little different than the rest. He's off on his own, not trying to solve a murder. They just seem to find him! No other Scotland Yard types either. Adam, some questionable deaths, and a creepy black tower next to the sea in Dorset. If you're a fan of James, you'll like it. If you are a fan of tense British mystery, you'll like it and you'll be hooked.

This one is more an atmospheric murder mystery with an aura of angst, sorrow, regrets (mostly coming from Adam Dalgliesh's) and the malicious intents and actions coming from the tennants of the home. Dalgliesh's brush with death is like a grey cloud over the whole novel. Not a bad mystery but a melancolic and sorrowful one.
One of the things I love about James is her attention to place, and the importance she affords it. Also, place is not the subject of tediously long-winded descriptions (as in Hardy's prose) or the overwrought romanticism of the pathetic fallacy (as in the Brontes). But it is still much more than mere setting.
Despite being written several years ago, this mystery still holds suspense until the final pages. It is also a great way to increase your vocabulary as P.D. James makes full use of the English Language.
...P.D. James, judging from this book, follows the crime, detective genre that is most reminiscent of Agatha Christie. Instead of the usual red herrings, twists and turns of Christie's novels, however, P.D. James is more brooding, and philosophical . "The Black Tower" ruminates on mortality, cult-like personalities, and physical disabilities in the shadow of murder .

P.D. James' style won't appeal for those looking for a quick page-turner on the beach. I found myself reaching for the dictionary f...more
This book, the 5th in the Adam Dalgliesh series, wasn't a bad read. It's set in a private nursing home where terminally ill patients and their Church of England priest die semi-unexpectedly within a few weeks of each other. Dalgliesh happened to be there because he was a friend of the priests, and happened to be invited to come and stay just before the priest died.

I've said this about a number of early James books, and it bears repeating here. The book themselves aren't bad, but they do feel dat...more
Bill Rogers
Adam Dalgliesh leaves his hospital bed to recover for a while before going back to work. But he doesn't think he WILL go back. Being a detective is too wearing on his soul. He'll announce that he's leaving when he gets back to The Yard. But first, he'll go visit the retired priest he once knew, Father Badersly, who has written a letter asking Dalgliesh for his help as a policeman in settling some little matter or other.

Of course, when Dalgliesh arrives at the strange old mansion which is now an...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
A well-written murder mystery with plenty of red herrings, The Black Tower leaves the reader as frustrated as the main character, Commander Dalgliesh of Scotland Yard. Perhaps he is not on his A-game, having simply responded to the request of an old friend he had long since lost contact with in hopes of fulfilling an obligation and convalescing from a serious illness. Something is wrong. People keep dying under suspicious circumstances or for apparently natural causes. What is it that Dalgliesh...more
After just one chapter, I was absolutely in love with PD James.
The book features one of James’ extremely popular characters, Adam Dalgliesh. Although he is a poet (apart from being our hero and a Commander in the New Scotland Yard), he is neither the object of nor the reason for my adulations. Those are solely for the author herself.
The first chapter deals with a convalescent Dalgliesh, who has been given “a sentence of life”; after being misdiagnosed as having a terminal illness, he has been as...more
Set in the 1970s, this episode in Adam Dalgliesh's life takes place while he is supposed to be convalescing after a serious scare in the hospital. He is far from in top form when he answers a request from a friend from childhood, Father Baddeley. Baddeley asks if Dalgliesh might lend his sleuthing skills to a little problem that has found. He doesn't say what it is. When Dalgliesh arrives at Baddeley's home, however, he discovers that the man has been dead for several days and is already buried....more
Chris Gager
Picked up at the transfer station. Starting tomorrow...
Or the next days as it happens. the cover of my book is not pictured on G'reads but the page length is correct. Already I'm enthralled by the author's superior descriptive gifts even as the genre conventions crop up reliably. Should be a fun read.

Next day and off we go into the plot. Seems pretty conventional so far but the writing makes it interesting. The collection of "suspects" is typically random, eccentric and creepy. She tosses in a t...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
While Commander Adam Dalgleish is recuperating from health issues and questioning his future as a police officer, he receives a letter from Father Michael Baddeley, a priest he hasn’t seen in twenty years. The priest requests that Dalgleish come see him at Toynton Grange, a private home for young, severely disabled people, which is a fair distance away. The only reason Father Baddeley gives for his request is that it’s in a professional capacity. By the time Dalgleish arrives several days later,...more
Scotland Yard Commander, Adam Dagliesh, while recovering from an illness, goes to visit his childhood priest. He arrives at the community for the disabled (where Father Baddely worked) to find the Father has died in the meantime, apparently of natural causes. Dagliesh gets wrapped up in the eccentric and isolated community. He becomes acquainted with the patients and staff, finding skeletons in every closet he opens. Several other "natural deaths" lead Dagliesh to believe there is a murderer in...more
Yet again, James finds a plausible and compelling locale for a closed room style mystery. This time, Dalgleish, recovering from a lengthy illness, travels to an isolated nursing home, Toynton Grange, on a desolate coast. He goes at the request of an old friend, Father Baddeley, who has written to ask for his advice on an unspecified problem. Alas, when Dalgleish arrives, he learns that father Baddeley has died, bequeathing to Adam his large collection of books. This death, as well as that of ano...more
Jan 02, 2009 Lorraine rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mystery fans
Shelves: mystery
One of the earlier Dalgliesh mysteries, but after reading the most recent (and possibly final) story, I appreciate it more. All the characters have some depth to them (okay, not quite all -- the handy-man, the female wheelchair patients, and the nurses are not too deep, but they have enough personality or personal history to give them enough character to fulfill their role in the story). The scenes are all, for the most part, relevant to the plot. That was a complaint of the final mystery -- too...more
Dalgleish finds out that what's wrong with him is a bad bout of mononucleosis, it's nothing fatal and he should take some time to rest. At the same time he receives an invite from an elderly friend to visit him as he wants to pick his brains about something. Dalgleish is shocked when he arrives that his friend is dead. His friend is living in a group of cottages associated with a house that is now a home for people with degenerative illnesses. Shortly before Dalgleish's friend, Father Baddeley,...more
I love P.D. James, but I wasn't crazy about this one. Because this novel takes place in a nursing home of sorts, the characters are all wracked with physical deformities. Their loss of limbs and bodily functions has left an emptiness that is so filled with self-hatred, spite, and anger that I found many of them off-putting and difficult to read. But then, that's the point, isn't it.

P.D. James is great because she's always dealing with some major philosophical issue, and in this book, she was dea...more
Mary Ellen
This will probably not be a fair review, because I began this book thinking I'd stumbled across a PDJames I'd never read, then a few chapters in, realized I'd stumbled across a PD James I'd read some years ago and forgotten. That took some of the joy out of reading it, and is the reason I rated in 3 stars - trying to be fair - instead of the 2 stars I felt like giving it.

This is a 1975 book, one of the earlier Adam Dalgliesh books, and opens with Our Hero in hospital, facing the fact that he doe...more
#5 Commander Adam Dalgliesh mystery. Dalgliesh is recovering from a bout of mononucleosis (at first thought to be leukemia) when he receives a letter from Father Baddeley, an old friend of his father's who asks to see him on a 'professional' matter. He lives at Hope Cottage near the sea and near a privately run care facility for young disabled people called Toynton Grange, and when Adam arrives, he finds that Fr. Baddeley died ten days previously.

Of course he's suspicious at first about the dea...more
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P. D. James is 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 has served as a magistrate and as a governor of the BBC. In 2000 she...more
More about P.D. James...
Death Comes to Pemberley The Children of Men Cover Her Face (Adam Dalgliesh, #1) Shroud for a Nightingale (Adam Dalgliesh, #4) The Private Patient (Adam Dalgliesh, #14)

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