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The Black Tower (Adam Dalgliesh #5)

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really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating Details  ·  9,597 Ratings  ·  270 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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Audiobook, 10 pages
Published January 1st 1996 by Chivers Audio Books (first published January 1st 1975)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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booklady
Dec 13, 2014 booklady rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mystery lovers
Shelves: 2008, mystery, crime
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
Katharine
Mar 20, 2009 Katharine rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
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 writin
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Lisa
Jul 09, 2014 Lisa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Jan C
Maybe 1\2.

Adam Dalgliesh learns a little something about false diagnoses. Then he goes to visit a friend who apparently died just before he arrives. The friend was working as a counselor/priest at a nursing home (?) for quadriplegics at a converted estate. But the bodies keep falling and they all appear to be natural causes. There were too many for natural causes to have killed them all.

All this while Adam is considering leaving the Met.

This was okay but as I was listening to this today, I kin
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Matthew L.
Apr 23, 2012 Matthew L. rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
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
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Divya
Mar 01, 2013 Divya rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Kirsten
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
Daniel
Apr 12, 2015 Daniel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A short take:

James writes sensual prose, while Dalgliesh continues to pull me in. I didn't go for his resolution to leave police work, but then, I know that 9 more books follow this volume, so there were no stakes in this prospect for me. As usual, the mystery, itself, is secondary to the character histories that manifest during the ensuing investigation. James is very good at writing about people and the complicated muddle they make of their lives. Murder is nasty; reading this book was pleasan
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Elizabeth
Oct 06, 2008 Elizabeth rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-fiction
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.
Em
3.5 /5

Another mystery done with and dusted up, this year.

As my most crime thriller reads are, this too was an impulse read, just to counterbalance the various slow paced, no-violence-involved, family oriented dramas that I was reading. P D James has always remained one of my favourite authors, because I savor the type of slightly soporific murder stories that she tells giving more importance to the surroundings and characters, and with a familiar chief investigator, in this case, Superintendent
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Kyrie
Dec 18, 2014 Kyrie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Dalgliesh is recovering from a serious illness and gets a letter from an old family friend who's working at a home for the disabled? Permanently ill? Not sure exactly what to call the place - it's not a nursing home for the elderly, but it's definitely a care place.

Anyhow, the writing was difficult for me. It was like being ill along with Dalgliesh and not being able to quite grasp things or wondering if I had a fever again or what.

I don't usually care for the list of characters at the beginning
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Melody
Jul 18, 2009 Melody rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, mystery-crime
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
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Eduardo
Sep 26, 2014 Eduardo rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I believe that this is one of the most popular books by P. D. James, but I found it fairly boring, too long, uninteresting (as a mystery novel), and almost formulaic in its plot and concept. So much so that it has for a while --hopefully-- removed in me the desire to keep reading her, as was my plan. I gave it two stars because some of the characters are kind-of-salvageable and the first third of the novel promised some good reading that did not materialize eventually, as it dragged on and on to ...more
Liza
Jan 12, 2014 Liza rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ron
Aug 26, 2016 Ron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: large-print-read
I'd never read any P.D. James before. I think The Black Tower was probably a good choice to begin with. If this book isn't an example of mystery literature then I really don't know what is. Although, it was a bit difficult to read in spots, in all, it was a fine story and wonderful characters. Even the ones we weren't supposed to like were well defined.

I'll probably read more Adam Dagliesh books, but, at the moment, I don't have a definite choice in mind. If this one is any example, I don't thin
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Lizzy
AD is convalescing as he also tries to solve the mystery of why his priest friend wanted to see him. Alas, he's dead and so begins the dropping bodies. The name were confusing at first as she uses both names at different times. It was atmospheric but not gripping.
Lauren Albert
Feb 02, 2016 Lauren Albert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lorraine
I think that some of P.D. James' best books take place at remote locations or on islands. While this book is on the mainland, it's in a hospital for handicapped adults on the coast high on a cliff by the sea in Dorset, very similar to the island location in The Lighthouse. Dalgleish goes to the clinic to visit his father's old curate, but finds that the man has died before he arrives. There are mysterious staff members who wear hooded robes and some of the patients clearly dislike some of the st ...more
Julie
Jan 23, 2016 Julie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The who with the what now? Now I know that P.D. James' character Adam Dalgliesh is known for suddenly having an ah-ha moment that brings all of the clues together and solves the crime. Ordinarily, I'm fine with that. But in this book, there are so many characters, so many crimes that Adam isn't even working on solving (he is visiting an old friend who lives in the compound of a convalescent home) and yet, at the end, he totally pulls the solution out of thin air! Worst denouement ever!
Jordan
May 19, 2016 Jordan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
My first time reading a P. D. James/Adam Dalgliesh mystery, and it was so much more than I had expected. For some reason, I’ve always lumped P. D. James in with the like of Patricia Cornwall and Stephen King, and nothing could be further from a true classification. The writing itself was excellent, the psychologizing top rate, the mystery itself complex and expertly handled. The story follows Dalgliesh as he is recovering from a bout of serious illness which, when he had thought it would be fata ...more
Ariadne
Feb 23, 2016 Ariadne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: whodunit
I have this weird relationship with the Dalgliesh series where I am determined to go on reading them all, because I enjoy the writing, and at the same time I think James sucks at writing mystery novels.

Don't bother trying to solve this mystery. Once again it's solved at the very end thanks to clues/confessions/elements/all of the above the reader was never privy too, and Dalgliesh conveniently has a mysterious epiphany (???) after which the villain is kind enough to bore you to death with a looo
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Seeta
Apr 07, 2014 Seeta rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Katie
May 15, 2013 Katie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I had such a hard time getting through it. I also thought there were several things that were confusing -- I never figured out what the murderer was doing there in the first place (I'm sure I read about his role somewhere at the beginning of the book and forgot about it). And I never really understood why it the book is called "The Black Tower" -- it seems to me like the tower didn't have that much to do with the story. I just thought it was really boring.
Sandra Danby
A sinister mystery this, partly location, and partly the feeling that Dalgliesh is not operating at the full capacity of his deductive powers. He has been ill and goes to Dorset to convalesce, to visit an elderly friend. His love and energy for detecting are muted, there are hints he may not continue.
On arrival in Dorset he finds his friend, Father Baddeley has died. Dalgliesh is inevitably drawn into the daily life at Toynton Hall, the care home at which the Father was chaplain. All is not as
...more
Michael A
Dec 27, 2014 Michael A rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
PD James, at least in so much as she matures, is interested in two main things and one minor thing in her writing. Among the major points, one is the need to give us a highly introspective detective who goes so far to question his experiences and role as a detective. This element is novel and interesting to read about in small doses. The second is anchoring these stories in her real-life experiences with the NHS. I will have to trust to her on that point since she would know better than I do. Th ...more
Richard
May 31, 2016 Richard rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
In an age of television detection in which crimes are often investigated using the most sophisticated technological and psychological tools, and solved by painstaking analysis of the tiniest minutiae of evidence, it comes as something of a surprise that the most striking death in this novel is one that is never officially classified as a crime. But whereas The Black Tower has most of the hallmarks of a conventional murder mystery - including a group of interconnected characters in a remote, encl ...more
Kaila
Apr 20, 2015 Kaila rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I can't recall whether it was The Black Tower or a different book by P.D.James which was recommended to me among a sea of other "crime" books that should absolutely be read by anyone who likes the genre.

Perhaps it was a different book. I hope it was a different book. It's more than possible I was merely unlucky in picking up The Black Tower as my first book to read by P.D.James. I'd prefer it to be that way.

You see, I wasn't overly impressed by The Black Tower. Indeed, I put down the book with a
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Rosemary
Aug 25, 2015 Rosemary rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
P. D. James is an excellent writer and a clever plotter, but this mystery moves far too slowly. Only one or two of the characters (not counting Father Baddeley) is the least likeable and most of them are quite repugnant. Perhaps James was laying out varying sorts of evil behavior--from unkindness to jealously to getting even to exploitation to blackmail to murder--for us to observe, and gradually showing us why and how these actions came about, and they did contribute to the plot, but I found mu ...more
Liz
Nov 02, 2012 Liz rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-uk
I usually like PD James but I just could not get into this one. Too many characters whose relationships were not made clear, and none of whom were memorable enough that I could remember who was who. I powered through, and honestly, even the last 20 pages were a bit torturous. I'll come right out and say it- I didn't really care what happened, and just sort of skimmed it just to be able to feel like I had finished the book.
Ana Bolox
Dec 19, 2014 Ana Bolox rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Una nueva novela de la recientemente(y desgraciadamente para sus aficionados, como yo) fallecida, P. D. James, en la que un grupo heterogéneo de personajes se mueve a la sombra de una institución sanitaria especializada en patologías degenerativas.

Un rosario de muertes aparentemente naturales sorprende a Dalgliesh cuando nuestro policía acude a visitar a un viejo amigo, sacerdote que fue ayudante de su padre, y lo encuentra muerto. Con la permanente sospecha por parte de Dagliesh de que no hay n
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« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • The Way Through The Woods (Inspector Morse, #10)
  • The Old Fox Deceiv'd (Richard Jury, #2)
  • Murder Being Once Done (Inspector Wexford, #7)
  • A Killing Kindness (Dalziel & Pascoe, #6)
  • Night at the Vulcan (Roderick Alleyn, #16)
  • Dreaming of the Bones (Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James, #5)
  • Well-Schooled in Murder (Inspector Lynley, #3)
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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)
  • 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)
  • Death in Holy Orders (Adam Dalgliesh, #11)

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