A nice multiple murder mystery in the style of Agatha Christie set in England amid a Church of England seminary kicks off with an apparent suicide by one of the students. Nice character development that doesn't give away the murderer too early in the story. A nice description of the setting adds to the comfiness of the book and made me yearn to visit more of England. Some info of interest to art history buffs is included with the description of several pieces of valuable artwork the school owns and displays.
Senior investigator, Adam Dalgiesh, apparently is the main character of the author's series of who- done-its, but he didn't seem to me to be the character I would want to follow in additional stories. I found the priests, professors, and seminarians much more interesting than any of the police assigned to the case.
When the body of a young ordinand, Ronald Treeves, turns up buried in a sandy bank on the Suffolk coast near isolated St. Anselm's, a High Anglican theological college, it's unclear whether his death was an accident, suicide or murder. The mystery deepens a few days later when someone suffocates Margaret Munroe, a retired nurse with a bad heart, because she remembers an event 12 years earlier that could have some bearing on whatever's amiss at St. Anselm's. Enter Dalgliesh at the behest of Ronald's father, Sir Alred, who's received an anonymous note suggesting foul play in his son's death. It isn't long before another death occurs, and this time it's clearly murder: late one night in the chapel, somebody bashes in the head of Archdeacon Crampton, a hard-nosed outsider who wanted to close St. Anselm's. Dalgliesh and his investigative team examine the complicated motives of a host of suspects resident at the college, mostly ordinands and priests, slowly unveiling the connections among the various deaths. Illegitimacy, incest, a secret marriage, a missing cloak and a valuable altar triptych are just some of the ingredients in a case as contrived as any Golden Age classic but presented with such masterful ease and conviction that even the most skeptical readers will suspend disbelief.
Twenty years ago, I read Adam Dalgliesh novels and loved them. Why did I set them aside? Probably because there were only 14 books to enjoy. Recently, DEATH IN HOLY ORDERS came my way and I decided to reread it. The author drops the reader into a quaint English area near the sea. Adam Dalgliesh is sent to a small theological college, where a young student has died in odd circumstances.
Unfortunately, as Dalgliesh arrives, the bodies continue to drop. Instead of explaining what was going on, the deaths add to the mystery. There is so much going on in the psychological ruminations of the characters, that I couldn't set the book aside. The people were fascinating.
It seemed to me that this book was a mood piece. Before getting too far into the book, I felt the unique atmosphere of the East Anglia college, sitting by the ocean. The atmosphere and the characters seemed to move in tandem to help me feel part of the scene. I'm not explaining this well, but I felt swept away in a unique place. When the book ended, I felt as if I'd been thumped down -- back where I'd taken up the challenge of the story. Who would have thought I could have such profound feelings about a mere mystery?
Inspector Adam Dalgliesh
1. Cover Her Face (1962)
2. A Mind to Murder (1963)
3. Unnatural Causes (1967)
4. Shroud for a Nightingale (1971)
5. The Black Tower (1975)
6.Death of an Expert Witness (1977)
7. A Taste for Death (1986)
8. Devices and Desires (1989)
9. Original Sin (1994)
10. A Certain Justice (1997)
** 11. Death in Holy Orders (2001)
ABANDONED. Ultra wordy, unnecessarily descript, I just couldn't get into it. I stuck with it for 60+ pages, but it just never got better and I couldn't take it any more. I read the other reviews and know that I am alone in my reaction, but take it for what it is worth, if you like a quick, suspenseful thriller with action and depth filled characters, pass this one up.
V. N. (verrby) reviewed Death in Holy Orders (Adam Dalgliesh, Bk 11) on
A well-written modern English murder mystery. Adam Dalgliesh is called in to find - MURDER (gasp!) - at the heart of the Church of England. A student is found dead at a small theological college, and when good old AD investigates, he finds is an ever-widening circle of deaths, related to each other. It's an inside job - perhaps a mad priest? - and Dalgliesh must figure out who the killer is before more are found dead. "Death in Holy Orders" is a PD James special: a quick-paced detective novel that is great to while away the time while commuting or relaxing poolside. A good series to look forward to reading. Lots of fun characters, and James will keep guessing to the very end.
For lovers of British mystery, a really good one that was a Book Of The Month Club main selection. This is one of the Adam Dalgliesh series and revolves around a death at a small, remote theological college-but one death is just the beginning
On the East Anglican seacoast a small theological college hangs precariously on an eroding shoreline and an equally precarious future. Then, the body of a student is found buried in the sand, and the boy's influential father demands that Scotland Yard investigate. Adam Dagliesh, the son of a parson, once spent happy summers at the school. A detective who loves poetry, a man who has known loss and discovery, Dagliesh is the perfect candidate to look for the truth in a remote rarified community of the faithful -- and the frightened. For when one death leads to another, Dagliesh finds himself steeped in a world of good and evil, of stifled passions and hidden pasts, where someone has cause to not just commit one crime, but to begin an unholy order of murder...
I have loved all the Adam Dalgliesh books but this one didn't hold my attention like the others. A little slow and somewhat introspective, the characters were slightly bland and the ending predictable. Still a good read, just not as good as I expected.
I started reading the Adam Dalgliesh mysteries about midway through the series with "A Taste For Death" after seeing that novel on a "100 Greatest Mystery Novels" list.I found it interesting enough to keep reading subsequent books in order, and while well-plotted, I never felt like I knew the characters well, and frankly came to know Dalgliesh's assistants better than I knew him. The reason I liked "Death in Holy Orders" so much --and better than any other in the series to date -- was that for the first time I felt like I knew about Dalgliesh as a person. When we see his interest in Emma Lavenham developing for the first time he seemed, to me, more than just a literary character.Now I'm looking for to the other novels that follow.
Ms. James cleverly navigates her readers through personal sins, management quandary, and society turmoil. Scores of secrets materialize in a minute community. With so many confusions introduced, one forgets that a clear motive might be an answer to any mysteries.