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A Taste for Death

(Adam Dalgliesh #7)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  14,657 ratings  ·  630 reviews
When the quiet Little Vestry of St. Matthew's Church becomes the blood-soaked scene of a double murder, Scotland Yard Commander Adam Dalgliesh faces an intriguing conundrum: How did an upper-crust Minister come to lie, slit throat to slit throat, next to a neighborhood derelict of the lowest order? Challenged with the investigation of a crime that appears to have endless m ...more
Paperback, 459 pages
Published November 8th 2005 by Vintage (first published 1986)
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Carolyn Thomas Quite a common practice. The lady would obviously refer to her husband as "dad" when talking about him to her children and so it just seems natural to…moreQuite a common practice. The lady would obviously refer to her husband as "dad" when talking about him to her children and so it just seems natural to call him "dad" in their daily conversation instead of using his Christian name. (less)

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 ·  14,657 ratings  ·  630 reviews

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J.L.   Sutton
Oct 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
I wasn't gripped from the beginning of P.D. James' Taste for Death, but I'm happy I continued reading. I felt more and more engaged as the story unfolded. To me, that more than made up for the slow beginning. This was an enjoyable and intelligent mystery. This was my first time reading P.D. James, but I'll look for more of her work. 3.75 stars. ...more
I had read the author’s dystopian novel, Children of Men, a long time back. But, This was my first Adam Dalgliesh novel. I had heard a great deal about the author’s mystery novels and started the book with very high expectations.

The book starts with the discovery of two bodies in the vestry of a church. One of the victims was a homeless drunk, but the other was Sir Paul Berowne, a wealthy aristocrat as well as a conservative MP.

Thus begins the investigation by Commander Adam Dalgliesh and his te
Aug 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
Always loved Inspector/commander Dalgliesh, also on screen.
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The year of P.D. James rolls on.

As usual this is a well written mystery that grips you to the end. And of course seeing the teleplay years ago, it played through my head as I was reading the story.

There is one line from the book that did stick with me though about a woman’s feeling towards a man. I won’t spoil the story by noting it down.

I hope Number 8# in this series is just as good.
Roman Clodia
Jul 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
He had felt for the first time an adult and almost overwhelming sense of the sadness at the heart of life.

Reading this in order with a book group and this is certainly the best of PDJ's work for me to date. While she still hangs the skeleton of her plot on a police murder investigation, the real meat of the book explores the inner souls of her characters, especially with regard to disillusion, spiritual malaise and complicated forms of guilt.

There are some irritations: an excessive attention
The seventh book in the Dalgliesh series was somewhat a disappointment. The preceding book in the series was so promising that I expected more. But unfortunately, it felt too short of the mark.

The murder-mystery plot was a clever one, no doubt there, but the problem was to keep a clear track of the mystery when it was overcrowded with too detailed descriptions into characters, places, surroundings, and architecture. It was too tiring a business that I soon lost interest. I figured the criminal
May 28, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
This had more twists than the average P.D. James novel. The action really picked up in the last hundred pages. James pays a lot of attention here to providing complete arcs for minor characters, which is a nice touch. The book doesn't just end when the detectives figure out who the murderer is. The characters continue to make choices, trying to make the best of their circumstances, and we get to explore the effects of all these actions. It's even poignant. Good stuff. ...more
Craig Monson
Aug 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
We know within half-a-dozen words that persons have been done to death. In a style worlds away from the twitterverse, P.D. James continues for eight pages before dishing up satisfaction for any who live by plot alone. In the meantime she takes whatever time she needs to set the scene of the crime (a sortof worse-for-wear All Saints Margaret Street, translated to a seedy neighborhood around Paddington Basin, near Paddington Station) and to introduce an incongruous pair: a spinster church lady, wh ...more
Julie  Durnell
Oct 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A long and well plotted murder mystery, I like the Dalgliesh series a little more with each book. If only she would have included a character list-so hard to keep track of everyone!
Alan Teder
The Baronet and the Tramp
Review of the Vintage Canada paperback (2011) of the Faber & Faber hardcover original (1986)
No one joins the police without getting some enjoyment out of exercising power. No one joins the murder squad who hasn't a taste for death. The danger begins when the pleasure becomes an end in itself. That's when it's time to think about another job. - Adam Dalgliesh makes observations during A Taste for Death
Detective Commander* Adam Dalgliesh is the head of a new elite squad
Apr 19, 2013 rated it did not like it
P.D. James is considered as a worthy successor to Agatha Christie and is widely regarded as one of the most celebrated crime novelists of our generation. But, in spite of all that I have never enjoyed reading her books. I mostly found them boring and bland.

Now, the book. The edition I was reading was a TV tie-up, with faces of two actors who played character parts in the dramatization of the novel and it was 552 pages long.

Paul Berowne who is an MP and a former cabinet minister is found dead in
Jul 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
I have been reading the Adam Dalgliesh books alongside one of my book groups and this is the seventh, published in 1986. I was surprised to realise there was almost a decade between the previous book, “Death of an Expert Witness,” (1977) and this one. She had written a Cordelia Gray novel, but still, it is quite a gap. “A Taste for Death,” is often considered one of her best novels and received awards, as well as being nominated for others. It does come across as literary crime, with a very char ...more
Oct 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Another Dalgleish novel by P.D James, which means a clever plot, a couple of murders, and some character development of Dalgleish and his team. This one surprised at the end, with the murderer going on a vengeful spree that threatens one of Dalgleish's team. I like this series, and this is a solid addition. ...more
Feb 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
A just-retired, blue-blooded government minister and a tramp have their throats cut in a church in James's well plotted, nicely paced mystery. I'm a big fan of James, and of her lovely Dalgliesh in particular. She allows Dalgliesh and his subordinate, Constable Kate Miskin, to be thoughtful, well-rounded characters, deserving of our admiration. Nearly everyone else in the book (along with nearly everyone else in every P.D. James book) comes in for very harsh treatment. James is a deeply misanthr ...more
Feb 26, 2013 rated it did not like it
Perhaps classic murder mysteries are just not my genre. I found this book PAINFUL to read. For me it was predictable, boring and totally unsuspenseful. I never came to care about the characters. There were endless paragraphs of physical description, mostly about furniture. Ugh! The emotional breakdowns at the end were beyond unrealistic. I'm not sure how people like this stuff, but obviously they do, so what do I know? ...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
This is another fine installment in the series. Just past halfway, I made a note that good novels are built upon conflict. This is a novel where the conflict happens to involve an investigation for murder. Normally, one would just call it a murder mystery and move on. I happen to be one who thinks this series is some sort of hybrid between a traditional murder mystery and a traditional novel.

In this, the family of the murdered man sees little reason to cooperate with Dalgliesh and his squad. If
Feb 08, 2022 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2022
I didn't enjoy this.

It's well enough written. PD James can write, though I do agree with some other reviewers who mentioned that this book was a bit long, and could have used some editing. I'm giving it three stars, because I think it is a well-written mystery.

But I found it unpleasant to read. I hadn't realized there was 10 years between this and the last Dalgliesh novel. It shows, and not in a good way. Apparently some major events have happened in the protagonists life, that are sort of obliq
Aug 04, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first P.D. James mystery, and it was a fine book. James' detective, Adam Dalgliesh, is apparently a poet (we are told this again and again) but we never see him writing or read any of his verse. Maybe these are present in other Dalgliesh books.

James is a fine writer, but she used one narrative tool in this book of which I'm not a huge fan. The reader doesn't have complete access to the thoughts of each character, but we do have access to some of their longings, musings, and wondering
Aug 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: p-d-james
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 08, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: i-gave-up
Couldn't even read this on the plane with no other books on me. I watched soccer on the tv instead. SOCCER was the better option, folks. Frankly finding it hard to understand why this woman is considered such an amazing mystery writer. The fourth time they reentered the church and the light coming through the windows was given four paragraphs I knew this wasn't for me. ...more
Apr 03, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery

At some point, I completely lost track of what this book is about. Cliches about the British upper classes abound.
Jul 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
I suppose this is my first P.D. James. I thought I had read something by James before, and perhaps I did, but this is definitely my first Adam Dalgliesh novel (which is the 7th in the series). From what I gather, Taste of Death may be the high point or one of the high points in the P.D. James catalogue. At 497 pages it's on the longish side, but James writes with a satisfying literary density that has me recalling another "genre" writer, John le Carré. Different sides of the street, for sure (pa ...more
May 25, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
PD James has lingered a lot. She delves so much on each scene, it becomes really boring at times. For instance, at the very beginning, she has gone into so much of detail about the dead bodies and their setting that it has actually become extremely morbid.
It is very generous of her to want to share her vision completely, to the last minute detail, but it negatively affects the mind's ability to hold interest in her work. There should have been some leeway given to the reader to imagine some part
Jun 09, 2017 rated it liked it
I gave it 3 stars because of the writing that is beautiful, but I would prefer only 2 stars because it's becoming boring because of too many details ...more
Jennifer Zartman
Dec 04, 2015 rated it did not like it
P.D. James handles her plot line well, she avoids explicit sexual detail and keeps profanity to a minimum. She also solves her mysteries with logical explanations, which I like. However, this book suffers from an overdose of trivia, which bogs down the story and occupies a large percent of its 480 pages. She describes buildings and the rooms within those buildings in minute detail that has no relevance to the plot. Every room receives an account of each piece of furniture, its style, placement i ...more
Apr 09, 2019 rated it did not like it
My goodness. I must be getting crankier and more impatient by the week!. P.D. James (Nora Roberts) spends pages and pages and pages and then some more pages describing rooms, windows, window dressings, statues, views, portraits, paintings, music, elevators, bookcases, clothing, balconies, facades, paths, flowers, hair styles, cars, doors, Norman architecture, Victorian architecture, food, the weather, accents, gossip, eye color, embraces, physical features, family history, health, upholstery, &c ...more
Kay C
Feb 22, 2014 rated it it was ok
This was the second book I'd read in the Adam Dalgleish series. I nearly finished reading it a few months ago and, admittedly, struggled through it so much that I started it all over again. This time, I got through it. However, I found that I kept losing track of all the characters and had to keep referring back in the book to find out how each was related to the other. The primary story involved the finding of two dead people in a church vestry by an older female parishioner and a young boy she ...more
Another slow paced book in the typical P D James style
It all starts when a Ministwr ( immediately after his resignation) is found dead Ina church, along with a vagabond, both with their throats cut . Whrhrt it's homicide or suicide is difficult to tell at first glance, and the mystery deepens as Adam Dalgleish and his team sigs deeper into murky secrets
Jack Bell
I first heard of P. D. James when I was at a bookstore and picked this massive book I'd never heard of from a shelf to look at it. When I saw it was a detective novel, my first reaction was: how the hell could a mystery novel be like 600+ pages? How could it even be possible to sustain the level of mystery and tension for that long a page count? It was just weirdly inconceivable to me at that point, but interesting nonetheless.

Anyway, when I started reading James properly I did it in chronologic
John Frankham
Nov 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime-detective
First read this on publication in 1986, having read all the preceding Adam Dalgleish series avidly. I stopped after this one! A superb writer, with great descriptive powers and psychological insight into her wide range of characters, the increasingly morbid descriptions of murders, etc, became distasteful, as if she felt the need to match her more gruesome competitors. Also, beneath her insights lies a nasty contempt for the lives of those without sufficient class/breeding, and this seems not ju ...more
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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)
  • Devices and Desires (Adam Dalgliesh, #8)
  • Original Sin (Adam Dalgliesh, #9)
  • A Certain Justice (Adam Dalgliesh, #10)
  • Death in Holy Orders (Adam Dalgliesh, #11)

Articles featuring this book

We all have our reading bucket lists. James Mustich's 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die is bound to seriously expand that list...
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“It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life.” 90 likes
“But he still lingered, feeling the wind lift his hair and grateful for another minute of peace. He was grateful, too, that Kate Miskin could share it with him without the need to speak and without making him feel that her silence was a conscious discipline. He had chosen her because he needed a woman in his team and she was the best available. The choice had been partly rational, partly instinctive and he was beginning to realize just how well his instinct had served him. It would have been dishonest to say that there was no hint of sexuality between them. In his experience there nearly always was, however repudiated or unacknowledged, between any reasonable attractive heterosexual couple who worked together. He wouldn’t have chosen her if he had found her disturbingly attractive but the attraction was there and he wasn’t immune to it. But despite this pinprick of sexuality, perhaps because of it, he found her surprisingly restful to work with. She had an instinctive knowledge of what he wanted; she knew when to be silent; she wasn’t overly deferential. He suspected that with part of her mind, she saw his vulnerabilities more clearly, and understood him better and was more judgmental than were any of his male colleagues.

{ by Adam Dalgliesh, of his teammate Kate Miskin }”
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