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Shroud for a Nightingale

(Adam Dalgliesh #4)

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  20,890 ratings  ·  486 reviews
Hailed as “mystery at its best” by The New York Times, Shroud for a Nightingale is the fourth book in bestselling author P.D. James’s Adam Dalgliesh mystery series.

The young women of Nightingale House are there to learn to nurse and comfort the suffering. But when one of the students plays patient in a demonstration of nursing skills, she is horribly, brutally killed. Anot
Paperback, 368 pages
Published September 11th 2001 by Scribner (first published 1971)
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4.05  · 
Rating details
 ·  20,890 ratings  ·  486 reviews

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May 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the fourth book in the Adam Dalgliesh series. I have recently been re-reading these novels and, although I have enjoyed the previous books, this certainly represents a seeming increase in ability and confidence in the writing and storyline. “Shroud for a Nightingale,” is set in a nurse training school and P D James worked for the NHS for many years, so it is an environment she would have been extremely familiar with.

The story begins with Miss Muriel Beale, an Inspector who is setting out
Nov 21, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Leon Panetta
Student nurses are dropping dead at the Nightingale nurse training school. Does someone there harbor a secret past? (Hint: yes.) Published in 1971, this is James's fourth novel, and of these, her most robust and satisfying. It feels miles away from her earlier, Christie-esque stylings. You wouldn't find a passage like this in any of her first three, for example:

She had given him a depressing glimpse into the stultifying lack of privacy, and of the small pettiness and subterfuges with which peopl
Jul 10, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
My grandmother left this for my mother to read, and bored, I started it waiting for her in the car. Boredom, too, is the only reason I can give for my finishing it -- I was mesmerized by how entirely uninteresting it was, both the story and the literary style.

I don't read mysteries, and essentially all of my related presumptions are based on Cluedo and The Westing Game, but even compared to those, Shroud for a Nightingale is kind of a dud. So two student nurses are killed, the Scotland Yard is c
Jun 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
I had heard of P.D. James before but had never read any of her works, and I didn't really know she wrote mysteries. So I was quite pleasantly surprised by Shroud for a Nightingale--so much so that I've since read another James and am onto a third.

Shroud is a great caper, written in the 70s. I think it's aged extremely well; in fact, I think the whole plot and setting is made all the more creepy and ominous by the somewhat antiquated medical procedures that figure prominently in the plot. I defy
May 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was another great Adam Dalgliesh story. I am taking the series slow so that I can enjoy what P.D. James left us.

This story takes place at a nurses training school. A place that is full of secrets and lies.

Read this story and see why James was an award winning crime author.
Keith Davis
Dec 28, 2014 rated it liked it
I believe it was Red Skelton who said that to be a writer you have to be a close observer of human nature, but not so close that you start to hate everyone. P.D. James seems to frequently drift across the line into hating everybody. The men in James' world tend to be pompous, self-absorbed, preening narcissists, but they are almost nice compared to the women. The women are often petty, manipulative, mean-spirited and deliberately cruel.

Shroud for a Nightingale is about a series of murders at a
Dec 31, 2016 rated it liked it
I waver between 3 and four stars. PD James writes masterful mysteries that are intelligent and interesting. But those are the only levels on which they will effect you. I don't find myself relating or particularly liking the protagonist- he's very intelligent and you can respect him, you just don't care that much- you don't get attached to the recurring characters. I honestly don't think you are supposed to really. I think PD James set out to write exactly the type of mystery I described in the ...more
Nov 11, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
1971, #4 Supt. Adam Dalgleish, Scotland Yard, Nightingale House, just outside London. Nursing students living in a creepy old hospital building find murder and lots of intrigue; erudite, old-fashioned closed-community/manor house style mystery but with interesting modern (~1970) twists and a bit of then-relevant British history; classic cosy police procedural.

Nursing "sisters" are an alien breed to most US folks, but if you've read or watched a lot of British-set mysteries you'll have a bit of u
May 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries
Hooked me in. Was an engaging mystery but it was nowhere as cozy as a Christie. Sometimes was a bit disturbing even...
May 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who appreciates a good mystery
Shelves: mystery, 2008
Wow! James outdid herself this time! Really, really enjoyed this one! She keeps getting better. I don't deny that I struggled with the first one, but I'm so glad that I stuck it out. It really helps to have a friend to read it with. Inspector Dalgliesh's character keeps coming out more and more in each subsequent novel and he becomes more intriguing the longer you know him. I also like how James just gives you tidbits of insight into him with each book; she keeps you coming back for more!

Stef Rozitis
Granted this book is older than me, so the dated stereotypes and gender roles within it partially lose their sting. I tried to read it that way, in its historical place as a very psychologically outdated book (as I do with Agatha Christie for example and still derive some enjoyment) but it still rankled even so.

The story itself is quite ingenious, it has the right amounts of twists and turns, complexities and red herrings. The stumbling block for me is character and in particular my inability to
tom bomp
Dec 21, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: mystery, fiction, english
At several points the main character is discussing the case with his assistant and, despite the fact they've already talked about the evidence and what they think and he's the current viewpoint character and we follow both of them through everything important they do, their important deductions are covered up with sudden reported speech, like "he said what had happened, his assistant said yes that's obvious". Like are you *kidding* me how lazy can you get

The book is OK enough but the denouement
Katherine Clark
Dec 06, 2013 rated it liked it
I am rereading P. D. James' Dalgliesh series and am a bit disappointed with it. Apparently, nostalgia had made the series appear much better than I remembered. Oh well. In the midst of reading my second Colin Dexter novel, I realized that I found it boring, so when I received Shroud of the Nightingale in the mail, I eagerly read it, only to discover that while I thought I had read all of the Dalgliesh series, I had actually missed this one. I give this book 3 stars because of the first half of t ...more
A nursing school inspection ends horribly with the death of a student during a demonstration of intra-gastric feeding tubes. This gruesome beginning is compounded with a second student death, and the local police are exchanged for the Yard’s Inspector Adam Dalgliesh whose implacable determination to get at the truth is welcomed by the nursing staff with varying degrees of coolness.

I’m not sure where in the series this one falls, but this Dalgliesh novel was just a bit too staid and dated to hold
Kath Elizabeth
This was my first P.D. James book, and I did enjoy it, but it wasn't anything earth shattering either.

Shroud for a Nightingale is book 4 in the Adam Dalgliesh series, but can easily be read as a standalone. Dalgliesh is a detective, and in this story he is called out to a nurse training school after two suspected murders take place. Two student nurses have been poisoned in horrific ways, and its Dalgliesh's job to figure out who did it.

This book is a pretty typical murder mystery. It goes into a
Jun 06, 2014 rated it liked it
Not the best of James, not even the best of her Dalgliesh stories, but a solid mystery in the classic vein. The surprise is how James pulled off a very traditional plot line with remarkably few tricks in an environment and with a cast that is believably inhabiting 1970. For comparison, look at Agatha Christie from this same period. All of her characters continue to inhabit a 1930s world, or are decrepit oldsters confused by the kids and their crazy sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Elsewhere in the ...more
Dec 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
#4 Adam Dalgliesh British mystery, in which the Scotland Yard detective and his team are off to a nursing school to investigate the untimely death of two nursing students--both dead by poison of different types a couple of weeks apart. One was administered during a demonstration of gastric feeding during an inspection by the General Nursing Council, when Nurse Pearce, playing the role of the patient has her stomach dissolved by a caustic substance added to the milk feed. The second death of Nurs ...more
Nov 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-favourites
Well, it was a good book i read it with excitement and it kept my interest till the end. It was nicely written not tiring or boring at all. Also a thing that i really liked is the way the writer described the different personalities without being subjective and the fact that all these different personalities were interacting with each other throughout the book with all king of intresting behaviors that you do not usually find in most books.

i would also like to point out that Mrs P.D. James was 9
Good, verging on very good, although a bit too mannered and slow. Very deep psychological portrayals of the characters provide the big win. The plot was nicely convoluted, although the denouement wasn't much of a surprise.

This was among the books listed on an ancient "all-time bests" newspaper clipping I found in my files. I think anyone who is a fan of mysteries should probably have already read it, right?
Connie (Ava Catherine)
Apr 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017, src, 2019, mystery-crime
P.D. James, one of my favorite mystery/ detective writers, spins yarns that keep me intrigued until the end of the tale. A careful analysis of plot and characters’ motives keeps the reader on his toes throughout the complex novel, and, as usual, there is an unanticipated shift toward the end. Delightful fun.
Nicole Brown
Nov 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An excellent mystery that will leave you guessing; James at her best.

I haven’t anything to offer. There isn’t any help. We are all alone, all of us from the moment of birth until we die. Our past is our present and our future. We have to live with ourselves until there isn’t any more time left. If you want salvation look to yourself. There’s nowhere else to look.
--P. D. James (Shroud For a Nightingale p 101)
If you are proposing to commit a sin it is as wel
James has raised the stakes in the 4th Dalgliesh mystery, with murders more frequent and more brutal than in the previous books. As in the first three novels, the case hinges on information the reader simply cannot surmise from the clues in the book. In fact, there are probably enough clues here to figure this one out, at least in terms of motive, if not the identity of the murderer. But as I work my way through the Dalgleish mysteries, I'm finding that I don't make a huge effort to solve the ca ...more
DeAnna Knippling
Aug 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Wonderfully written; odd to read an earlier book and be able to pick up on how it's put together. There's information near the end, for example, that should have been presented earlier in order to be strictly fair, but would have given too much away if presented earlier on. So be it: it's kind of neat to see a master at work.
Learnin Curve
Jun 12, 2018 rated it liked it
One of the earlier ones so she is forgiven. Listened to audiobook and it got very confusing with which nurse was which as there were so many, with a paper copy it would have been much easier as I could have bookmarked the first chapter which did have a cast list of sorts.
Jim Harville
Mar 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Five Stars!

There are some things that even Chief Superintendent Adam Dalgliesh can't control. I don't know how I missed this one my first time through the P.D. James canon. But this is one of the best!
Lia Marcoux
Apr 28, 2018 rated it liked it
I think I would have enjoyed the story more without the faulty edits and coy notes penciled into the margins of this library book; but I have a warm glow from knowing whoever defaced the book got it wrong. You dope.
Michael A
Dec 20, 2014 rated it liked it
I commented last time how PD James, even though she seemed to "get" the puzzle mechanics of this kind of mystery writing and could show us how superficial the genre is through self-reference, needed to find a style of her own to make any kind of mark. The problem is that Christie blazed so much ground that writers have to deal with her legacy in this particular style of mystery. Back then, it was enough to have a stimulating guessing game with the author. But in this day and age, how do you keep ...more
Val Penny
Feb 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Phyllis Dorothy James, Baroness James of Holland Park, OBE, FRSA, FRSL, known as P. D. James, is an English crime writer and a life peer in the House of Lords. She was born in August 1920.

This is a book my mother gave me many years ago. I probably read it then, but had forgotten the story, so when I cam across it, I read it again.

Nightingale House is where a group of third year student nurses live while they learn the art of nursing. There is a routine inspection of the nursing school by the Gen
Oct 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: detective-novels
I enjoyed this. P D James is a remarkably consistent writer, so if you like closed community whodunits, lots of twists and turns and false alibis – and I happen to do so - this is your novel. Otherwise you’ll find it slow and ponderous.
It is set in a nursing training home in the late sixties. Its description of nursing is inadvertently a bit of social history itself, for I think nursing training has changed dramatically since those days. The story is slow starting, not withstanding the grisly mu
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Madison Mega-Mara...: This topic has been closed to new comments. Shroud for a Nightingale 1 3 Jan 05, 2013 05:24PM  

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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)
  • 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)
  • Death in Holy Orders (Adam Dalgliesh, #11)
“He didn't want her; he wanted me. Well, you know how it is."

Dalgliesh did know. This, after all, was the commonest, the most banal of personal tragedies. You loved someone. They didn't love you. Worse still, in defiance of their own best interests and to the destruction of your peace, they loved another. What would half the world's poets and novelists do without this universal tragicomedy?”
“But he did grievously fear old age, mortal illness and disablement. He dreaded the loss of independence, the indignities of senility, the yielding up of privacy, the abomination of pain, the glimpses of patient compassion in the faces of friends who knew that their indulgences would not be claimed for long.” 0 likes
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