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The Murder Room (Adam Dalgliesh #12)

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  8,741 Ratings  ·  551 Reviews
Commander Adam Dalgliesh, P. D. James’s formidable and fascinating detective, returns to find himself enmeshed in a terrifying story of passion and mystery -- and in love.

The Dupayne, a small private museum in London devoted to the interwar years 1919 -- 1939, is in turmoil. As its trustees argue over whether it should be closed, one of them is brutally and mysteriously m
Paperback, 640 pages
Published July 27th 2004 by Seal Books (first published 2003)
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Carol ♔Type, Oh Queen!♕
An undercurrent in PD James Adam Dalgleish novels is that most people are lonely, living their life in neat, compartmentalised boxes & only occasionally coming out to interact with their fellow man.

 photo people-in-boxes.jpg

This was a wonderful mystery about murders at a fictitious London museum, The DuPayne. A lot of clever twists & turns (including a red herring that had me convinced I had guessed the murderer!)Maybe a little too much about the minutiae in the (mostly lonely and/or solitary) characters' lives
Jan 30, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I struggled to finish this book. It wasn't just that it was not to my taste (and I read a lot of crime novels).

It certainly is not, as it says on the tin, 'Classic, guaranteed to delight all crime addicts.'

We're introduced to commander Dalgliesh in chap 1-2. There then follows 8 or 9 chapters devoted to the background of all the potential culprits – straightforward info-dumping on a mighty scale. The narrative ground to a halt while we get background background background. Then the murder occur
A reasonable enough mystery, but not top-notch, and with a very contrived feel. What are the chances that an innocent motorist leaving the scene of a copy-cat crime would just happen to say the exact same words that the murderer in the original crime did? The whole book has a similar air of unreality.

I have written in previous reviews of PD James’ books that she has a tendency to go on about particular social issues in an annoying way, in book after book. To this list I will now add drinks. What
Formulaic, but still entertaining as all get out.

Dalgliesh and Co. are called upon to figure out who's using some famous murders from the 1920's and 30's as templates for a series of murders in and around a small niche museum near Hampstead Heath.

As is usual with a whodunnit from James, there is no shortage of acerbic, depressive and agnostic/atheistic suspects to choose from. Nor is there any doubt that each of these suspects (and for that matter, the detectives) will have their homes (both ext
Sarah Ryburn
May 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-suspense
Love James's detective fiction which is more literary than some of the "literary fiction" I find on book store shelves today. Her prose has that reliability that I crave in a novel. Similar to Dickens, really, I can just sit back, read, enjoy, and trust that at no point will she affront me with bad sentence structure, awkward dialogue-jargon attempting to sound "realistic," or even the occasional punctuation malfunction. Flawless. And completely enjoyable. That her subject matter happens to be m ...more
Oct 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-british
This is the second P. D. James book that I read and the book that turned me into a fan. While it is true that James spends a large amount of time setting up her characters, I like that. I enjoy it because when a death occurs, it feels like a death and not a plot point. Too often in murder mysteries the death is forgotten. The victim is simply an agent to get the plot moving. James' never forgets, or lets the reader forget, that someone who had a life died.
Emilia Barnes
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, classic
I think that, though it isn't absolutely necessary, it would have helped were I more familiar with Dalgliesh and some of the other characters, for this one. The lack of proper context made some aspects of the novel (which I would have otherwise enjoyed) slightly difficult to follow/sympathise with. Other than that, P.D. James has her style of writing - it's a beautiful style, she's a very good writer, but it's detailed to the point of pedantism, and features a lot of perspectives, which might no ...more
Commander Adam Dalgliesh is already acquainted with the Dupayne Museum in Hampstead, and with its sinister murder room celebrating notorious crimes committed in the interwar years, when he is called to investigate the killing of one of the trustees. He soon discovers that the victim was seeking to close the museum against the wishes of both staff and fellow trustees.

4* An Unsuitable Job for a Woman (Cordelia Gray, #1)
4* The Skull Beneath The Skin (Cordelia Gray, #2)
4* Innocent Blood
3* The Child
Jul 17, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Good lord, this was excruciating. I picked a murder mystery by a well loved author to chase my previous read, which had been the opposite of a page turner. What a disappointment. I realize this is only one of many PD James novels, but it gave me no incentive to try the others. Super slow build, an author who tells you instead of showing you, with interminable descriptions of interiors, faces, gardens, and clothing, none of which are anywhere near relevant to the plot. At some point, I had to sta ...more
Larry Bassett
You have to be patient for the murders to come on

This is my first PD James and it is very English. It did seem like we had to go through all the characters slowly until the first murder. I guess this is part of the series and the lead detective has a history of prior stories. I do not know if it would've been more enjoyable if I would have been dollar jumble of that prior history. The investigative unit is a special one dealing with sensitive information although the details of that information
Jul 30, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: discussion-group
I think I'm too much of a snob for good old mystery novels, but nope, I become intrigued and immerse myself in them. After reading The Murder Room for a literature discussion group I found myself checking out five other mysteries by P.D. James. Whodunits are fun!

10-07-2013. I'm glad it's been seven years since I read Murder Room. I don't feel quite so embarrassed to say that I didn't remember anything about it until the scene of the first murder ... and even that reminisence doesn't bring the re
Jul 12, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I really liked this at the beginning, the character development especially, but once the murder investigation kicked off I lost some interest. I think Dalgliesh was so seldom in this book I didn't know who he was as a person. I wasn't impressed with some of the techniques James used to unfold the mystery. I wasn't a fan of this but I didn't hate it either.
Jul 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pleasing but "slowish" 16th novel from great British writer...

PD James, "a", if not "the", grand dame of English mystery literature, has given us yet another in the Scotland Yard Commander Adam Dalgliesh series. Fundamentally police procedurals, James' novels typically employ very solid character work and evocative scene setting to channel our thoughts and imagery along many more lines than just the "whodunit" plot at hand. Making some allowances for our author's 83 years of age, we find some o
Apr 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
James, P.D. THE MURDER ROOM. (2003). *****. Again we meet up with Commander Adam Dalgliesh as he solves the mysterious deaths of two different victims at a museum. The museum is the Dupayne, a museum dedicated to the years between the wars, with rooms celebrating different aspects of their history. There is an art gallery, a library, and – most importantly – a room devoted to the most notorious murders of that time. This room, obviously, was called the Murder Room. The museum was founded by Max ...more
L.M. Krier
Jun 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a mark of the high quality of P D James' writing that I was prepared to wait until p130 (of the French translation in hardback) for the first body. Although this is a twenty-first century murder mystery, there is such a wonderfully old world quality about the writing, it could almost be a Christie.

That's due in no part to the strong characterisation of lead policeman Commander Adam Dalgliesh, the impeccably polite and restrained policeman-poet. It's easy to imagine him working alongside Mis
Listened to in audio format.

The Murder Room is the fourth book I have listened to in the Commander Dalgleish (AD) series. When I first started listening to these books I thought the descriptions of places and people were too long and tedious.

Now I am on my fourth book in the series and I have totally changed my mind. This series is so much more than a police procedural, the language is beautiful and the characters so very English.

There is always a build up to the murder so you get to know the vi
Jennifer Locke
Feb 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you're looking for a murder-y type crime book, you can do no better than PD James. This was my second PD James read; I now proclaim myself a fan. The Murder Room is crime fiction that I would put beside any piece of literary fiction out on bookshelves. The writing is complex and nuanced; characters are fully and beautifully realized, and James portrays them all with the utmost sensitivity and respect. The London setting made the book a wonderfully fun read for me, as did Adam Dalgliesh's burg ...more
This book took me some time to get into as James is heavy on description and detail and I just wanted her to get on with the story. She won me over though somewhere around two-thirds of the way through. I began to appreciate what at the beginning I found annoying. She definitely has her own style of writing and I can see why she has such a large fan base. My husband likes all of her books that feature Inspector Adam Dalgleisch, the Scotland Yard detective who solves the crimes.
Khris Sellin
Fun police procedural, marred only by the author’s insistence on describing every room everyone walks into in excruciating detail. I think she wants to make sure, if any of her books are made into TV movies (have they been? I don’t know), the set designer will know exactly what kind of throw cushions to buy.
Also, it was kind of a Scooby Doo ending, and I’m still not sure I totally understand the murderer’s motive.
Feb 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am almost finished with P.D. James’ Adam Dagleish series and The Murder Room is book #12 in that series. The murder involves a family owned museum dedicated to the period between the wars. The family has its conflicts, as all families do, but when one of them ends up dead, Dagleish and his team are left to unravel the clues. Was he killed due to museum business, something else with the family, his own personal life, enemies in his career? As Dagleish digs into the mystery he uncovers more and ...more
Saleh MoonWalker
Sep 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, mystery, crime
If crime fiction were classical music, P. D. James's books would be filed under Grand Opera. In a sense, James is the last of the great Golden Age crime writers. She has an instinctive grasp of narrative despite the leisurely prose, the shocks are beautifully handled. The plot purrs along like a well-designed and well-maintained engine. James writes with rare authority about the civil service, the police and the justice system. She also does an exceptionally good corpse -- she never cheapens the ...more
Jul 14, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-thriller
I liked it enough. Different than the mysteries I'm used to reading. Read more to me like a regular fiction novel with mystery elements than a "mystery". She does a lot with the psychological states of her characters, which I like. My main issue with it is the plot, which is so crucial to a great mystery. The how of the murder, the slow unfolding of clues, the why the murderer did the murder should be the strongest & most exciting parts of the story. Sadly, they are not. I was shocked at the ...more
Lisa Findley
Okay that's several PD James I've tried now, and none of them has really done anything for me. Especially the reveals -- the killer here seems to have an obvious motivation, and another one that they profess is the real reason, which, if true, is totally unfair of James as we couldn't have possibly known about it.
Jon Stephens
Jan 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Murder Room is my first trip with P. D. James, and my first foray into the good ole fashion “Whodunnit” genre of books since I was a kid, and we were trying to find out who made off with the cookies, or which teacher is actually an alien. It was enjoyable, and covered all the core components.

P.D. James has a delightful command of prose. Her language is sophisticated, but easy to read. Descriptions of setting are vivid. She also does a fantastic job at creating very distinct POV’s. Tally Clut
Bill Rogers
The Dupayne Museum only has exhibits about the years between the World Wars. To the annoyance of the more serious members of the staff, the most popular exhibit by far is the Murder Room.

As the name suggests, the Murder Room contains photographs and relics of famous murders and murderers of the era. For example, there is an exhibit about Alfred Rouse. Rouse, so it is claimed, wanted to fake his own death. So he picked up an anonymous hitchhiker and burned the man to death in Rouse's own car. Na
Feb 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I liked this book for the characters - at least the good ones. The not so good ones seemed a bit two- dimensional, or maybe they were truly private?

The idea of a small museum, devoted to the period between WWI and WWII in England was an interesting one. How much patronage would a place like that get today? The room focused on the murders was probably a big draw.

I don't know if I wasn't paying enough attention, but I didn't figure out the murderer. I wasn't even sure the first victim was who it
Jul 26, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh I shouldn't give this a four star but I do admire P.D. James so much. She is writing with the same extraordinary skill and high literary standard as ever and she is over eighty. Her books have the unmistakable British patina and her references are cultured as well as up to date. I donm't know how she does it. So her mysteries are a bit formulaic. What mysteries aren't? She has created a couple of the most memorable detectives in the history of mystery fiction. Kudoes to her. I recommend this ...more
2.75 stars. I was encouraged by the TOC, "the people and places," "first victim," "second victim," "third victim"... oooh, three victims! Let's get going! Half the book before the first murder (and the last victim is sort of a freebie). I like a drawn-out prose-y style, but every chapter introducing a new character seemed to first begin with an architectural preamble of the sorts of people who had lived in the character's neighborhood 50 years ago... It was like having a real estate agent repeat ...more
Jul 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In which our hero, Commander Dalgliesh, struggles to find time for his honey Emma the Professor. But of course the main course is Murder. P D James has invented the DupAyne Museum, which is devoted to the years between the World Wars, and put it in Hampstead Heath. One of the 3 siblings who now own and control the museum is found brutally murdered on the grounds but is not the last victim. James writes so well, I could find my way around the museum in the dark if I had to, and I know the princip ...more
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I was disappointed 1 8 Feb 28, 2016 08:20PM  
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P.D. (Phyllis Dorothy) James was the author of over twenty books, most of which have been filmed and broadcast on television in the United States and other countries. She spent thirty years in various departments of the British Civil Service, including the Police and Criminal Law Department of Great Britain's Home Office. She served as a magistrate and as a governor of th
More about P.D. James...

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)
“All the motives for murder are covered by four Ls: Love, Lust, Lucre and Loathing.” 7 likes
“It had always been a part of his job which he found difficult, the total lack of privacy for the victim. Murder stripped away more than life itself. The body was parceled, labelled, dissected; address books, diaries, confidential letters, every part of the victim's life was sought out and scrutinized. Alien hands moved among the clothes, picked up and examined the small possessions, recorded and labelled for public view the sad detritus of sometimes pathetic lives.” 4 likes
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