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The Private Patient

(Adam Dalgliesh #14)

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  15,181 ratings  ·  1,456 reviews
National Bestseller

Cheverell Manor is a beautiful old house in Dorset, which its owner, the famous plastic surgeon George Chandler-Powell, uses as a private clinic.  When the investigative journalist, Rhoda Gradwyn, arrives to have a disfiguring facial scar removed, she has every expectation of a successful operation and a peaceful week recuperating.  But the clinic houses
Paperback, 368 pages
Published November 3rd 2009 by Vintage (first published January 11th 2008)
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Sheila Myers As Adam Dalgliesh would probably say, "Murder never makes sense." For the plot of this story, I think the explanation of the motive for the first two …moreAs Adam Dalgliesh would probably say, "Murder never makes sense." For the plot of this story, I think the explanation of the motive for the first two murders makes sense. I'm not so sure I agree with the motive for attempted third murder. Then again, at the end of the book, I was left with the impression that perhaps the killer wasn't the only person involved with the crimes - as if some of the others characters were still hiding some secrets.(less)

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Average rating 3.79  · 
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Jul 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read many Adam Dalgleish novels back in the days when I did not keep a record of my reading. So it seemed right to go to the last one in the series and see what happened to the man over all those years.
And it was nice to see him tying the knot at last as well as solving one last case for us in his inimitable way.
P.D. James is an acquired taste because she does go into an enormous amount of detail. She really wants her reader to see her settings the way she saw them herself and occasionally doe

In this 14th book in the 'Adam Dalgliesh' series, the Scotland Yard detective investigates murder at a medical clinic. The book can be read as a standalone.


Investigative journalist Rhoda Gradwyn - who's exposed her fair share of secrets - schedules plastic surgery to remove a disfiguring facial scar.

Her surgeon, George Chandler-Powell runs a private clinic in his ritzy country estate at Cheverell Manor.

There he employs a motley assortment of characters including an assistant surgeon, a man
Dec 12, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this to be so leisurely -- pages-long descriptions of car trips through the countryside, detailed listings of the stuff in every room -- that I had to force myself to finish. But I'm giving it 3 stars because for God's sake, this woman is 88 YEARS OLD. I can barely find my car keys and she's still cranking out byzantine mystery plots. ...more
Sep 12, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
So I have a lot against this book.
First, I've seen reviews that compare this book/author to Agatha Christie and NO, JUST NO. I've read almost every Agatha Christie, some of them several times, and I barely could make myself read two of P.D. James' books (I read the second one because I convinced myself it HAD to get better. Not true).

The character development in this is spectacularly lacking, and the conversations feel forced. The only people I liked were Benton and Kate. The only two character
Jill Hutchinson
You can't go wrong with P.D. James and her Adam Dalgliesh series. As someone mentioned in one of my book clubs, these are not quick reads and have some "meat on the bone". But they are easy reads and the story flows smoothly toward a sometimes susprising denouement.

In this late entry of the series, we find a successful investigative reporter checking into an expensive private plastic surgery clinic to have a disfiguring facial scar removed. All goes well as far as the surgery is concerned but sh
Nov 20, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who loves a great mystery.
I have been a fan of PD James forever and was sure that with her age, The Ligththouse would be her last Dagliesh novel. I was so happy to see that she had another story in her. I rated this 4 stars as much because I love James and her wonderful language. However, I didn't feel that it was her best book. I sensed that she needed to tie up a bunch of loose ends for her characters. Still, on a scale of 1 to 10, if PD James wrote a book that was not her best, it is still an 9 compared to other myste ...more
Jul 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Odd to start out with #14 in a series and be able to say you enjoyed it. I liked the murder mystery. It was intricately woven, with each of the suspects having a lot of plausible reasons to commit the murder and real convictions about "who done it" held at bay until very near the end.

I felt less involved in the Commander and his squad, but that was natural, since this is a relationship that has been building for the reader since book one and book fourteen is obviously well into that relationship
Dec 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I guess I'm channeling my mother (who died last year). She was an English teacher who loved to read P. D. James' mysteries. When I saw this on the shelf at Borders, I thought of her and bought it. Now I see why she enjoyed reading James' works. She is an excellent writer, rich and visual. Next time I read one of her books I will keep a dictionary at my side. What a fine way to increase my vocabulary! Of all the current murder/mystery writers active today, James is probably the best WRITER of all ...more
Jan 05, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I only seem to update when I didn't really like a book, but maybe I just want to warn everyone. James started out as such a compelling mystery writer and her prose is still good, but her books have become more and more tedious over time. She's become, I think, far too enamored of her own regular characters and too much of the writing is focused, not only their thoughts and feelings, but of the minutia of their actions. I think it was almost page 200 before we read about an interview with a suspe ...more
Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*
EXCERPT: On November the 21st, the day of her forty-seventh birthday, and three weeks and two days before she was murdered, Rhoda Gradwyn went to Harley Street to keep a first appointment with her plastic surgeon, and there in a consulting room designed, so it appeared, to inspire confidence and allay apprehension, made the decision which would lead inexorably to her death. Later that day she was to lunch at the Ivy. The timing of the two appointments was fortuitous. Mr Chandler-Powell had no ea ...more
When you pick up a P.D. James mystery, you know that you are in the hands of a professional. Cleanly plotted, meticulously detailed, characters revealed layer by layer, hers are the epitome of the "British mysteries" in the tradition of the great Agatha. It is a tradition that I know and love.

"The Private Patient" is her latest entry in the saga of Commander Adam Dalgliesh of New Scotland Yard. It is a police procedural with, as usual, James' touch of humanism.

We find that Dalgliesh is about to
H.A. Leuschel
What a wonderful read, great characterization, interesting plot with wonderful descriptions ... just a bit too long-winded for me sometimes. I did get a bit lost in the overload of details that often didn't add to the overall story unfortunately. However, I enjoyed this read and I would take my hat off to anyone who at the age of 88 can produce such an entertaining novel. PD James is an inspiration! ...more
Dana Stabenow
Nov 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who appreciate good writing.
Recommended to Dana by: Barbara Peters of the Poisoned Pen
I wrote this review for the Poisoned Pen's eNews:

What could be more English than a country house murder? In The Private Patient P.D. James summons up the shades of Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie in murder most foul of a patient at a stately country manor turned medical clinic. Means, motive and opportunity are all on offer for everyone on the premises, from the self-absorbed doctor, the idealistic assistant, the lovelorn nurse, the dispossessed heir and the devoted nanny to the overprotective s
Nov 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As far as we know this is the last Dalgliesh story. So reading this was kind of bittersweet.

Possible spoiler.....

The story also ties up some of the plot lines that have run through this series. Maybe James knew that this might be one of her last books and wanted to give her fans some closure.

She was still at the top of her game with this one. So expect the unexpected. It is a good ending to a brilliant series.

Apr 14, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I decided to read a detective genre fiction book after a long time. An investigative reporter checks into a private clinic to have a scar removed and is murdered - it sounded like a good premise to work from.

I have to credit James, almost ninety, with continuing to write competent police procedural books which peep into the lives of her suspects, criminals and detectives. And yet, I found several aspects that grated on me: the intruding concern for plot summations at various points of the story
Mar 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: own, mystery, 2019-odyssey
Cozy mystery with a hard edge.

Probably not the best idea to start with the final book in a series. I had read a short story by James and enjoyed it, found this lingering on my shelf and just decided to read it. While it doesn't have enormous amounts of past references, I'm sure that I missed the understated sub-context of the some of the relationships. Dalgliesh captured my interest and while I'm not racing to read another book in the series, I'll definitely keep them in mind for a nice leisurel
A new departure for me as I was listening to this on my journey last week to Liverpool as an audiobook. It meant as I wound my way through rural Dorset and up into Wiltshire and on up to Bath before finally getting on to the motorway if I got stuck behind those people who only seem to drive once a year and then always in front of me I didn't have the normal frustration that seems to ride personnified as a regular passenger on those journeys. Listening to a well read book made me a more patient d ...more
Feb 14, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition wasn't so much that i didn't like this book, i just wasn't excited about it. there were parts that were too detailed about things that i didn't care about, and there were parts that were fine. i also felt a darkness in the setting and characters, and felt that there wasn't really anyone to like or to relate to. i did think the last few chapters were a little odd - the whole stone thing. what??? ok - i admit that insanity makes people do odd things, but really??? well all i can say is t ...more
Tory Wagner
May 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british, mystery
The Private Patient by P.D. James is the 14th in the series featuring Commander Adam Dagliesh. James is known for her tightly written mysteries that are elegant in their descriptive language while providing mystery lovers with an engaging mystery that holds your attention until the final pages. Dagliesh is both a talented investigator as well as an acclaimed poet who appreciates the beauty of the world while recognizing that the dark side of nature exists as well. A real treat for mystery lovers ...more
Colin Mitchell
Feb 14, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
14th in the Dalgliesh series it is the expected wonderful descriptive text and a story surrounding the mysterious death of Rhoda Gradwyn, an investigative journalist, at a private clinic in Dorset. There is a great mystery about the motive for her death and at first the finger of suspicion is pointed in the wrong direction. In the end the plot rather lost its way and a second mysterious death tried to over complicate matters. In the end the plot rather fizzles out.

An ok read. 3 stars
I remember reading a couple of Adam Dalgliesh novels years ago and never really getting into them - preferring the television series instead, but I thought I would give them another go, and see if the years had mellowed me (or them)

Apparently not. Here is an example of the sort of writing.

'Rhoda Gradwyn was interesting about apparently unconscious copying of phrases and ideas and the occasional curious coincidences in literature when a strong idea enters simultaneously into two minds as if its
Lewis Weinstein
A solid mystery story ... all the characters in the same house - one of them did it. The interactions between the police were superb. There were also many pertinent observations about the process of aging and the ways of responding to the inevitable.

A word regarding James' descriptions of people and places ... I was both a tiny bit irritated that the many descriptions slowed down the story and yet often entranced by their quality.
Nov 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ate it up with a spoon. The Baronness is in fine form. The denouement was a little less than gripping, and the end was a little too wrappy-uppy--I was waiting for some final twist that never came. But, I'm not really complaining because the enjoyment was there. I went straight on to the new Elizabeth George, the poor woman's P.D. James. ...more
3.5 rounded up

On November the twenty-first, the day of her forty-seventh birthday, and three weeks and two days before she was murdered, Rhoda Gradwyn went to Harley Street to keep an appointment with her plastic surgeon, and there in a consulting room designed, so it appeared, to inspire confidence and allay apprehension, made the decision which would lead inexorably to her death.

Now that's a sentence that grabs one's attention, and, if you plan to do the 2020 Popsugar Challenge it will meet th
Listened to in audio format.

In The Private Patient we bid a fond farewell to Commander Adam Dalgleish (AD). His character was first published in 1962 with Cover Her Face to The Private Patient which was published in 2008. AD's career spanned 46 years, I think he deserved to retire with the woman he loves.

Cosmetic Surgeon Mr George Chandler-Powell held a clinic in Cheverell Manor, where the elite could have a nip and tuck and recover in beautiful grounds and seclusion.

Investigative Journalist Rho
Gerald Sinstadt
Sometimes one simply has to swim against the tide. So here I am resisting the undertow from thousands of P D James fans.

There was a time when the classic 'English' mystery story could maintain a grip. The staple props, country manors, locked rooms, plodding policemen, brilliant detectives, earned their devotees. If Agatha Christie became almost a caricature of herself, John Dickson Carr, Ngaio Marsh, Dorothy Sayers and others carried the torch. It came as a surprise to someone who previously kne
Mar 10, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I actually read this on my iPhone and it is the perfect portable book. PD James keeps the mystery moving, but still keeps things simple enough to follow so that you can pick up in different spots on the go. I don't think I noticed as much in previous books how uncomfortable her characters are in their lives. She's always kept Dalgliesh somewhat distant, but in this one, where she hints again at this possibly being his last case, we see more of his life and in some ways I got a better sense of hi ...more
Nov 28, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: p-d-james
Of the three great post-modern talismans--race, gender, class--P.D. James has chosen class as the ongoing theme of her books, inteweaving discussions of the fine (or not so fine) distinctions shown by accent, birthplace and school into her terrific mysteries.

"The Pivate Patient" has been hoped for by her fans almost since the publication of "The Lighthouse", published in 2006, hit the shelves. James was 80 years old when she finished that one and we didn't know how much longer she could go on.
I've read some reviews saying that this was not as good as previous novels, but I liked it because I like P.D. James' writing. She has so many potential murderers - everybody has something in their past that makes them suspect. This book takes place at a private hospital on the south coast of England where a famous writer has gone to have a scar removed from her face. That evening, groggy from the anesthetic, the lady is murdered. Dalgleish is called in at an inconvenient time (he had a weekend ...more
Dec 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bittersweet moment. I just finished the FINAL Adam Dalgliesh mystery. It is so very sad. I guess part of me thought she would live forever. It certainly felt like that. However, she had a good run -- 94!!

This novel, like her others, is a wonderful mystery. An isolated locale. Once again, the bleakness of the English sea. Myriad characters with myriad motivations. Very enjoyable. I may just have to go back and re-read from the beginning.

I have a glimmer of a hope that they will find a manuscri
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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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“If the screams of all earth's living creatures were one scream of pain, surely it would shake the stars.” 7 likes
“Snapping shut his mobile, Dalgliesh reflected that murder, a unique crime for which no reparation is ever possible, imposes it own compulsions as well as it's conventions. He doubted whether Macklefield [the murder victim's Will attorney] would have interrupted his country weekend for a less sensational crime. As a young officer he, too, had been touched, if unwillingly and temporarily, by the power of murder to attract even while it appalled and repelled. He had watched how people involved as innocent bystanders, provided they were unburdened by grief or suspicion, were engrossed by homicide, drawn inexorably to the place where the crime had occurred in fascinated disbelief. The crowd and the media who served them had not yet congregated outside the wrought-iron gates of the Manor. But they would come, and he doubted whether Chandler-Powell's [owner of the Manor where the murder was committed] private security team would be able to do more than inconvenience them.” 3 likes
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