Bridget's Reviews > The Murder Room

The Murder Room by P.D. James
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's review
Apr 26, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: 2009-reads
Recommended for: P.D. James fans, smart mystery fans

The Murder Room of the title is located in the Dupayne Museum in London, and commemorates some of the most fantastic and lurid murders in history. Through a chance meeting, Adam Dalgliesh visits with an acquaintance, but is called back soon after to investigate a series of murders. The first murder is one of the members of the Dupayne family, who were named as trustees in their late father’s will, with the caveat that any decisions regarding the museum have to be unanimous among the three surviving children. Dr. Neville Dupayne is the first victim, and is burned to death in his car in the museum garage shortly after a meeting where he voted to close the museum, to the dismay of his sister and brother.

Shortly after the first murder, another body is discovered in a trunk in the Murder Room. Now Dalgliesh has to figure out what, if anything, these two events have in common, and/or what the motive(s) was. By the time he and his team have started to figure it out, one of the main witnesses, the cleaning lady at the Dupayne, who lives in a cottage on the grounds, is nearly killed by the murderer.

As usual, James makes the story suspenseful, colorful, and creepy. The characters are occasionally stereotypical, but nearly always have a slight twist to make them memorable. My only problem with the story – and it’s likely that I’m the only one who cares – was that towards the end, the housekeeper’s cat, who was tortured by the murderer, disappears and we never learn whether or not he returns to her safe and sound. These are the kinds of things that bother me – if something horrible is going to happen to an animal as part of the story, I want closure on that aspect as well as the other threads.

I mostly read this book while I was at work, and found it amusing when someone passed by, saw the title and told me it was a “terrible thing to be reading here.” (I work at a penitentiary historic site.)

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