Missmath144's Reviews > The Private Patient

The Private Patient by P.D. James
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's review
Feb 23, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: murder, mystery, crime
Recommended for: mystery lovers
Read in February, 2009

Adam Dalgliesh returns to solve the murder of Rhoda, an investigative reporter who goes to a lovely private clinic in the country to have an ugly scar removed from her face, a scar her drunken father inflicted upon her as a child and of which she said, "I no longer have need of it."

As usual with P.D. James, the book is beautifully written. What I don't recall in her previous novels are the occasional social commentaries. At 88 years of age, I guess she's ready to comment on the world around her: "She knew that already she had become used to viewing the wider world beyond the Manor as essentially hostile and alien: an England she could no longer recognise, the earth itself a dying planet where millions of people were constantly moving like a black stain of human locusts, invading, consuming, corrupting, destroying the air of once remote and beautiful places now rancid with human breath. . . . She would travel by boat, train, bus and on foot, leaving the shallowest of carbon footprints."(p. 348) "There are not enough students to justify a Clasics Department. I saw it coming, of course. They closed the Physics Department last year to enlarge Forensic Science, and now the Classics Department is to close, and Theology will become Comparative Religion. When that's judged to be too difficult -- and with our intake it undoubtedly will be -- then no doubt Comparative Religion will become Religion and Media Studies. Or Religion and Forensic Sciences. The government, which proclaims a target of fifty per cent of young people going to university, and at the same time ensures that forty per cent are uneducated when they leave secondary school, lives in a fantasy world." (p. 74-5) At another point, one of the characters ((Chandler-Powell) said that he had reconciled himself to the fact that England was no longer a free country, but couldn't they at least keep a free press. I found these little social commentaries of P.D. James interesting. Those were all there were in the entire novel; it wasn't as if the book were predominantly a social commentary. It was just a good read.

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