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Some Deaths Before Dying

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  123 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
The New York Times Book Review calls multiple-award winner Peter Dickinson "a stylist of subtle brilliance". Always surprising and incisive, the author of The Yellow Room Conspiracy and dozens of other unique novels returns with his first new book in five years; and proves again that in his masterful hands, powerful drama and devastating secrets can be found at the heart o ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published June 1st 1999 by Mysterious Press
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Dec 13, 2013 rated it liked it
SOME DEATHS BEFORE DYING. (1999). Peter Dickinson. ***.
Rachael Marson is an old woman who is now essentially paralyzed by a crippling disease. Her mind is still active, though, and she can still talk, although with difficulty. All of her life she has involved herself in photography, and produced a record that she calls “Life.” In these albums she has photos of most of the people important to her and the places she has been. No event has gone unrecorded. While watching a television show one day –
Erin Kissane
Nov 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: readers of Ruth Rendell and lovers of well-crafted fiction.
I read this because of Jo Walton's acknowledgements in Farthing. Readers of modern British mystery writers like Ruth Rendell already know that the genre makes an excellent setting for finely drawn character studies and crystalline plotting. Dickinson makes Rendall look quite crude (even when compared her earlier work, in which her disapproval of the politically correct younger generation is less cartoony).

Some Deaths Before Dying fits together beautifully on at least four levels at once: The re
Idril Celebrindal
Jul 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
3.5 - Dickinson is a fantastic observer of humanity, and writes so well that, though this book has a fairly typical structure, and uses the crutch of labeling shifts in point of view, I didn't notice the former and wasn't bothered by the latter, a convention that normally drives me bonkers. Glad I started this the day before a day off. Nothing revolutionary but I enjoyed the crap out of it.
Andy Plonka
Aug 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: src
What a great read. I like the problem viewed from various character POV. It works well and the ending is perfect.
Apr 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was in the mood for the British murder mystery. Loved the pacing, the writing, the characters and the setup. Makes me want to read more by this author.
Jan 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
I think it was Peter Dickinson's obituary that made me reserve one of his books at the library. So glad I did! I intend to find more. It's been a long time since I've read such a satisfying mystery. It reminded me of other admired authors (whose names I can't remember but books I remember loving - I know - not very helpful - I have a terrible memory for facts). Full and grounded and detailed in just the right ways, coupled with the curiosity of a mystery. Good stuff. Maybe I should have given it ...more
2.5 stars

Rachel is 90-years old, paralyzed and dying. When her son lets her know that he saw a gun that should belong to their family on the Antiques Roadshow (they still have the matching gun), Rachel decides to investigate with the help of her nurse and daughter, bringing back memories and old secrets.

Although some parts of it were more interesting than others, for a good portion of the book, I just wasn't interested. Maybe the writing style? I couldn't get into it, and I didn't really care.
Mar 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
It is clear that Peter Dickinson writes from the vantage point of old age really well. His reveals are very cleverly done and not at all expected. I really enjoyed this book, but also felt a bit heavy at the end when you realize that all is not what it seems and someone you were brought to greatly admire was not the person you thought you knew. I realize that the book would be boring if everyone was as great as we thought, but all the same, it left a slightly bad taste in my mouth. The clevernes ...more
Steve Diamond
Feb 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction-mystery
Each of Peter Dickinson's mysteries is unique, quirky, and drawn with a master's hand. I'm sad to see that he has devoted his writing increasingly to YA books. Some Deaths Before Dying, which seems to be his last mystery so far, is in my opinion the best of the lot. We have not met these characters before. I strongly advise any lover of British mysteries who hasn't discovered Dickinson to read this one. Then go back and find (if you can) his mysteries from the 70s and 80s. They're all gems.
Apr 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Wonderful writing and wonderful characters (in the beginning, anyway).
Two of the "wonderful" characters each excuse themselves for (view spoiler). One of the "wonderful" characters has (view spoiler) Then, there's the evil character.

The beginning's enjoyable, but the ending's wretched.
Aug 24, 2011 rated it liked it
More of a character study than much of a mystery…although many secrets were revealed in the end. This was a book that I've owned for some time from my TBR bookshelf. I placed it on my bed stand but I read it intermittingly, which makes it hard to review. I was constantly refreshing my memory of some of the characters. It is a thoughtful, well written novel.
Dec 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: england, mystery
One of the best contemporary mysteries I've read in quite some time - Dickinson hooks you immediately and doesn't let go. The premise is exceptionally strong and the way Dickinson inexorably leads you towards the payoff as you furiously try to stitch the clues together is utterly compelling. Definitely a banner way to kick off a new reading year.
Feb 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book unfolded well, it was skillfully done. The subject matter is quite adult, and not everyone would be comfortable with what is revealed about the family of the elderly, paralyzed female photographer. I really enjoyed all the elements of the story coming together over such a span of time.
Dec 04, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
Fascinating story of a completely paralyzed woman trying to solve an old mystery. I liked the characters and enjoyed the story. Good page turner. Not sure I bought the reasoning behind the break up of the daughter's marriage plans. I'll have to think on that one.
Aug 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book was a revelation. A bedridden old woman unable to move discovers an old crime and solves a web of deception and lies. This was a great reading, my first Dickinson and one of my all time favourites in mystery books.
Michelle L
Dec 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction-mystery
Caroline Kubale
Mar 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Dec 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A finely crafted story by a writer who excels at his craft. I agree with those who put this book in the league of Ruth Rendell's better works.
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Carol Miller
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Peter Malcolm de Brissac Dickinson OBE FRSL was a prolific English author and poet, best known for children's books and detective stories.

Peter Dickinson lived in Hampshire with his second wife, author Robin McKinley. He wrote more than fifty novels for adults and young readers. He won both the Carnegie Medal and the Whitbread Children's Award twice, and his novel The Blue Hawk won The Guardian Aw
More about Peter Dickinson