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The Lighthouse

(Adam Dalgliesh #13)

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  13,235 ratings  ·  936 reviews
Combe Island off the Cornish coast offers respite to over-stressed high authorities who require privacy and security. But demanding author Nathan Oliver is found strangled and hanging from the renovated lighthouse. Investigator Adam Dagliesh, his inspector Kate Miskin, and sergeant Francis Benton are all pre-occupied with their personal and love lives. The first victim was ...more
Paperback, 383 pages
Published October 10th 2006 by Vintage (first published November 22nd 2005)
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Bionic Jean
The Lighthouse is the 13th mystery novel by P.D. James to feature her detective Adam Dalgliesh. The penultimate one in the series, it was published in 2005.

This particular novel brings to mind much earlier ones featuring Dalgleish, such as "The Black Tower" from 1975, where the action takes place on a Dorset hilltop, or the even earlier 1971 novel, "Shroud for a Nightingale", set in a student nursing school. P.D. James usually chooses fascinating locations for her novels. One such location is La
Aug 27, 2013 rated it did not like it
I was a great fan of P.D. James long ago when she was the latest thing and she seemed far more erudite than her rivals. But gradually I lost interest as her writing became more turgid, pompous, and needlessly detailed. My wife recommended that I try this one, but James put me off from the first sentence. Could this be self-parody? "Commander Adam Dalgliesh was not unused to being urgently summoned to non-scheduled meetings with unspecified people at inconvenient times, but usually with one purpo ...more
Jul 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The perfect type of murder mystery in a secluded location with a limited number of suspects, another in the Adam Dalgliesh series that slowly builds the tension that concludes with a strong final section.

As famous novelist Nathan Oliver is found hung on the secluded Combe Island of the coast of Cornwall, it seems like a clear case of suicide.
But the famous writer had no reason to commit suicide and on closer inspection it appears that foul play as at hand.
It’s down to Dalgliesh and he’s team to
Sep 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Yet another good story of P.D. James.

This story was a modern take on Agatha. Christie’s “And Then There Were None”. So if you haven’t read that, read it before the James book.

When you do read this one, make sure you can do it in one sitting. This story draws you in fast and doesn’t want to let go.
Jan 22, 2010 rated it liked it
Love PD James and obviously she's a great writer, but her books (even though nominally set in the present day) always seem very old-fashioned to me. I feel like you could have almost a PD James drinking game around everything that doesn't seem like it belongs in this century. Like...

Take a sip every time someone:

* Writes a letter
* Eats a home cooked meal (have two sips if it's made by an actual personal cook)
* Employs a maid, laundress, butler or other personal servant
* Talk about something that
Jun 09, 2018 marked it as to-read
DNF-ed@page 50.

P. D. James is praised as the New Queen of Murder, but honestly...I just can't get myself through the first 50 pages...these first 50 pages do not even both to show us much of the main players in this murder mystery, and I have absolutely no interest in the MC, Adam Dalgliesh, he and his voice in this story is so fucking boring. Will return this book to the library tomorrow!
Sep 05, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
I found this latest installment in the Dalgliesh series rather cold and disjointed. James' usual skill at plotting is in evidence, but perhaps because I haven't read the two or three before this one, I found myself uninterested in the personal lives of most of the characters. The prose is always poetic in a particularly English reserved kind of way, but usually I find the people endearing, especially Adam and Kate. For some reason, in this book, I could not bring myself to care much what happene ...more
Mar 14, 2011 rated it liked it

On a remote island off the coast of Southwest England, used as a getaway by the influential, the famous novelist Nathan Oliver is found one morning murdered -- hanged from the topmost railing of the island's fastidiously restored lighthouse. Since there were fewer than a dozen people on the island at the time, and since it's unlikely anyone could have come ashore secretly, the task of solving the murder would seem a simple one for Alan Dalglish and his crew. Yet lots of old coals have to be rake
Jan 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
This is the first mystery novel I've read. I have to say this author has a decent vocabulary; enough to use words like etiolated, atavistic, soubriquets in proper context and not have them stick out like a sore thumb. She also uses a few metaphors and decent geography details. Speaking of details, however, what is it with the room descriptions? Every room in the manor and five cottages is laid out in detail; the exact angle of every chair in relation to the windows, fireplace, doors, the pattern ...more
Colin Mitchell
Feb 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
Commander Dalgliesh, Insp. Miskin and Sgt Benton-Smith have a tricky case of murder on a remote island off the coast of Cornwall. Nathan Oliver was a well known author and had been found strangled and hanging over the edge of a lighthouse. There is a catalogue of complex relationship among the quests and permanent residents and a number of apparently connected leads from events in the past.

The expected delightful description does help to disguise the somewhat thin plot. The perpetrator seemed qu
Aug 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can only assume that the less-than-glowing reviews of The Lighthouse must mean that some readers are holding the great P.D. James to a higher standard than other crime writers. This may not be one of her best, but even a mediocre mystery by this creator of the unforgettable Adam Dalgleish is better than most others in print. Consider that she was eighty-four years old at the time of publication, and her efforts are even more remarkable. I found the reveal a wee bit rushed, and the villain not ...more
Jim Bowen
The Lighthouse, by PD James isn't a book that those who want realism in their crime stories will like.

It's set on an island off the British coast that the "well to do" use as a retreat from their stressful (but "terribly correct") lives. When a prize winning author is found hanging in the lighthouse on the island, the police, in the shape of Adam Dalgliesh and his merry band of men, are called in to solve the case.

I've read worse books. I've read worse crime books in fact, but this one didn't gr
Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂
3 & a half stars.

I Googled PD James when I was nearly finished this novel & found she was 84 when it was published. 84! I promise that this isn't going to be the start of rugby analogies in my reviews (I hate rugby) but this is like Colin Meads getting on the field for the current All Blacks & playing a creditable game. No longer at his legendary best, but not being laughed off the field.

But I feel that age & past glories can't be allowed for in reviews & this was one slow moving book. I liked
There were so many factors that added to my dislike of this book: I couldn't stand any of the characters, and the only passable one got very little lime light; the romantic scenes were so tacked on; I found the writing excessively descriptive and contrived to the point that I started ignoring the narrator wishing they'd shut up; the plot was not well paced and all of the vital action took place in the first and last 100 pages (making 200+ superfluous); and the qualifying of all female profession ...more
Beverley Carter
I liked this story. I've only given it three stars because there were some elements that I thought didn't quite work well enough for a higher rating. There are rather a lot of characters, most of whom are introduced to us quite rapidly at the beginning of the story and I found myself struggling to remember who was who. I very much liked the setting, although I thought the names of the cottages were a little contrived and, as with the characters, there were rather of lot of them and I struggled t ...more
S.C. Skillman
Mar 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
P.D. James's scrupulous examination of this closed community of characters rivetted me. The phrase "late-night page-turner" has never been more accurately used. This is a novelist who compels you to overcome tiredness, as you read through to the end. In the character of Nathan Oliver she challenges us with the chilling juxtaposition of a brilliant novelist and an unpleasant, universally-disliked personality. James is masterful in her use of the murder mystery device upon which to hang her examin ...more
Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*
A secure and secluded island retreat for the rich and powerful becomes the setting for the murder of an author who is a regular visitor to the island.
Commander Adam Dalgliesh is called in to handle the sensitive case, but soon falls victim to an infective illness that has also felled one of the island's other visitors, so is forced to hand the case over to his principle detective Kate Miskin and the ambitious Sergeant Francis Benton-Smith.
Can they identify the killer before there is anothe
Apr 04, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: april-2017
This is the thirteenth novel in the Dalgliesh series, and the second which I've read. Whilst I enjoy James on the whole, her strongest books as far as I'm concerned are the two in the Cordelia Gray series, which should have been expanded. Regardless, I do not perceive James as a crime author in the vein of Agatha Christie and Edmund Crispin, where I very much want to read their entire oeuvres. Whilst I rated The Lighthouse three stars, I found quite a large portion of the novel rather dull, and ...more
Listened to in audio format.

The Lighthouse is the 13th book in the Commander Dalgleish series.

I found this story hard to get into at first and had to rewind to the beginning and listen again.

A.D. and his team Kate Misken and Francis Benton-Smith go to a retreat called Coombe Island to investigate the death of author Nathan Oliver. Nathan was not a popular man and had many enemies on the Island including a priest called Adrian Boyd. Boyd was a recovering alcoholic until Oliver persuaded him try a
P D James is one of my favorite mystery authors, and this book substantiated the same. All elements of a cozy mystery are there - a closed room mystery, here portrayed by the death by hanging of a renouned but not very well liked author, while relaxing in a reclusive private island with limited access, accompanied by his secretary and daughter. There are barely a dozen or so people living in the island, and all fall under suspicion when murder is confirmed after autopsy. Adam Dalgleish and his c ...more
Feb 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, detective
I bought The Lighthouse twice: once when it first came out five years ago and again the other day. From the blurb on the dust jacket and a quick flick though the book, I did not recognize the story and thought it must be a new P D James novel. That tells you that the story is not particularly memorable and that professional reviewers do not always read the books they review.

In many ways, The Lighthouse is a reworking of James’ The Skull beneath the Skin: an annoying artist or writer delights in
Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo
Adam Dalgliesh, Kate Mishkin and her new partner fly in to a remote island frequented by the rich and famous to investigate a murder. A wealthy and renown author has been found hanging in the Lighthouse. There is no love loss among the island's residents and guests; the writer was a despicable man and no one but no one is mourning his loss. Dalgliesh and his team have a wealth of suspects as well as great digs. His boss wants the case contained - no press. But something else is present on this b ...more
Don Rea
Jun 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A brilliant novelist is found hanged from a lighthouse on an exclusive resort island off the Cornish coast. Is it suicide or murder? Well, this is an Adam Dalgliesh book, so that's not such a mystery. And actually I guessed the murderer's identity pretty early, unusual for me reading James. But still and all this is good example of her work.

It has all her typical accoutrements: Several suspects with strong and sympathetic motives, well established before any violence occurs; AD and his team reso
Oct 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
I haven't read much P.D. James so I don't know if this is one of her best. She does seem to be in top form. James follows her detectives as well as the islanders: victims and murderer both (and keeps us uncertain as to his identity). The result is a compellingly rich tapestry. It seems James's characters enjoy healthy sex lives, especially women, and especially detectives. Good to know! And don't pay attention to the the back of the book; according to it, Kate Miskin, Adam Dalgliesh's principle ...more
Jul 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book sounded promising: an island set off the coast of Cornwall! I was looking forward to gothic intrigue with eccentric characters and wind-swept coasts. Nope. I was bored stiff most of the time. In the first section, we learn in great detail about three detectives in London, right down to their hairstyles and what they wear. Nothing happens. Then we move to the island and learn about every resident there in great detail, right down to their hairstyles know. I was never so glad ...more
Rating Clarification: 3.5 Stars

Very engaging police procedural by P.D. James. The thing I most enjoyed about this one was the setting (an island off the Cornish coast) and the fact that it was a "locked-room" murder mystery. James has a very easy to read writing style that keeps the pages turning. I also like the fact that even though her books are part of a series, they can still be read as stand-alones by readers (like myself) who pick up a book out of series order.

Good series, good mysteries,
Sep 11, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
This is only my second P.D. James books so I can't compare this book to a "typical" P.D. James book. I enjoyed it very much, James can certainly write an intelligent mystery with fully developed characters. My only warning is to keep a dictionary nearby; she does like to use an expanded vocabulary!
Jun 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An hour with the children of their friends had reinforced their view that motherhood was a life sentence for which, thankfully, they were psychologically unsuited. They admitted to selfishness without compunction and if they later regretted it, they didn’t inflict their pain on him.
Megan Demoss
May 15, 2010 rated it liked it
I couldn't wait to find out whodunit, which is why I blasted through this book in one day. And Nathan Oliver is one of the most deservedly-murdered murder victims ever.
Not really thrown at the wall, just put down and ignored. Picked it up because it has a beautiful cover and a murder on an isolated island off the Cornish coast. I should remember that P. D. James always uses isolated locations—she’s already done the island thing in Skull Beneath the Skin. (And she’s already done the empty tower thing with cottages nearby in The Black Tower). This one is much later, though, so it’s very long, people have sex, Dalgliesh is less nasty, and it’s more interested in ...more
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English Mysteries...: November 2014 - The Lighthouse 48 123 Dec 02, 2014 06:39PM  

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P. D. James, byname of Phyllis Dorothy James White, Baroness James of Holland Park, (born August 3, 1920, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England—died November 27, 2014, Oxford), British mystery novelist best known for her fictional detective Adam Dalgliesh of Scotland Yard.

The daughter of a middle-grade civil servant, James grew up in the university town of Cambridge. Her formal education, however, ended at

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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