Read Death in Holy Orders by P.D. James Christa Seibicke Online


The Barnes & Noble ReviewA number of traditions come seamlessly together in P. D. James's Death in Holy Orders, another of her acclaimed mysteries featuring Scotland Yard's Commander Adam Dalgliesh. Included among those traditions are the Golden Age detective story, the police procedural, the literary gothic, and the Victorian novel, with its stately prose, leisurely pThe Barnes & Noble ReviewA number of traditions come seamlessly together in P. D. James's Death in Holy Orders, another of her acclaimed mysteries featuring Scotland Yard's Commander Adam Dalgliesh. Included among those traditions are the Golden Age detective story, the police procedural, the literary gothic, and the Victorian novel, with its stately prose, leisurely pacing, and abundant supply of social, familial, and psychological detail. The result of this eclectic combination is a multilayered narrative that works both as a murder mystery and as a complex meditation on faith, love, loyalty, vengeance, and personal responsibility.The bulk of the novel takes place at St. Anselm's, an embattled, isolated theological college on England's windswept East Anglian coast. When the body of seminarian Ronald Treeves is literally unearthed from a suffocating pile of sand, a coroner's jury turns in a verdict of accidental death. Arms manufacturer Sir Alred Treeves, Ronald's adoptive father, questions the verdict and arranges to have Dalgliesh reinvestigate the boy's death.Dalgliesh arrives at St. Anselm's at a particularly troubled moment. A longtime employee of the college has just died of an apparent heart attack, and a number of outside visitors have arrived to spend a restful rural weekend. Among the guests are a pair of visiting academics, a policeman on the verge of a breakdown, and Archdeacon Matthew Crampton, an ambitious cleric with a guilty secret and a vested interest in closing down the college. Crampton has had a history of hostile encounters, both with fellow guests and with various members of the seminary staff. On the morning after his arrival, his body is found, savagely beaten, in the sanctified precincts of St. Anselm's Church. As Dalgliesh soon learns, a great many of the weekend visitors had motives for murdering the archdeacon. Surrounding himself with a picked crew of Scotland Yard regulars, Dalgliesh spearheads a wide-ranging investigation that illuminates the events behind Crampton's death by first exposing the buried secrets of several interconnected lives. In the end, Dalgliesh -- poet, sleuth, and solitary widower -- successfully identifies a resourceful killer and opens himself up to the possibility of romantic and spiritual renewal.Death in Holy Orders is an engaging, old-fashioned, morally attractive novel by an 80-year-old master of the craft who continues to write with grace, clarity, and psychological acuity. At an age when most writers have long since passed their creative peaks, James has given us a fresh, quietly enthralling novel that raises large, important questions and solidifies its author's position as one of the dominant figures of late-20th-century crime fiction. (Bill Sheehan)Bill Sheehan reviews horror, suspense, and science fiction for Cemetery Dance, The New York Review of Science Fiction, and other publications. His book-length critical study of the fiction of Peter Straub, At the Foot of the Story Tree, has been published by Subterranean Press (

Title : Death in Holy Orders
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ISBN : 9780345446664
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 429 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Death in Holy Orders Reviews

  • mark monday
    2019-02-28 07:30

    here's a little story for a famous San Francisco lobbyist - a lively raconteur, a darling of the media, and an infamously debauched homosexual - was unfortunately on his deathbed. because this was a man who helped build the careers of many politicians, his hospital room was often inundanted by various famous local personages. one afternoon, as his final hours drew near, a respected and well-known priest came to see him. the lobbyist looked up, seemed rather surprised, and beckoned the good Father to come closer. grasping his hand, the lobbyist pulled him down towards his head, and whispered loudly for the priest and all the room to hear: "Well thank you for coming to see me, Father. I always appreciate your visits. But, sadly, sex is the last the thing on my mind right now."the true story above is also a completely spoiler-free clue to solving the mystery of Death in Holy Orders - delivered to you free of charge!as far as the novel itself goes, this is yet another well-done James slow-burner featuring the inimitable Adam Dalgliesh - detective and poet extraordinaire. as this is one of the author's later entries in the series, the mystery itself is impressively dark, gothic in atmosphere, and rich in meaning. several of the characters and situations are quite haunting, in particular the central murder victim and the unnerving opening scene. PD James is one of the best!

  • Alice Lindsay
    2019-03-05 07:48

    I hate to offer a negative review - but someone has to stand up and say something for children who have been sexually abused - particularly by clergy! It is amazing that anyone, seeing heartbreaking stories of sexual abuse of young people, would allow such an apologetic to be published. It will give Jerry Sandusky and the like something to read while in prison.In spite of a good tale, and vivid characters, I couldn't get beyond, (nor should anyone) the defense of child abuse, ("it was only fondling") and the vilification of someone who "dug up" more victims. The fact that the story is so well done makes it worse, in that it carries some legitimacy to the idea of abuse being minimal. The subtext of abuse was not primary to the story, but it was definitely central - you couldn't miss it. No one would permit an defense of racism or rape or any other illegal and immoral activities.Seriously, this needs to be addressed. At first I assumed it was revealing the context of the story, but when the main character immediately jumped to the defense of a pedophile, I was shocked and sickened. This story should be edited, updated, something.Publishers, please read the news, get some information from the young people who were "only fondled" and check your facts. I would wonder if this sort of defense is culpable in the continued abuse of children - it offers a way to spin the crime to make the perpetrators more sympathetic, and any accusers vilified. Shame!

  • Aileen
    2019-03-04 01:43

    I read P D James avidly for many years, until one day I just could not stomach her extreme right-wing contempt for every non-Dalgleish character. However, I've have always acknowledged her great skill as a writer, which finally brought me back to this book recently. Yes, the woman can write. The setting is fascinating, the characters are pretty good. She really conveys the beauty of the landscape, and the tragic destruction of a way of life dedicated to knowledge, peace and clarity of purpose. Dalgleish is as constipated and tight-jawed as ever. If not for the adulation given him by the other characters, I might mistake him for a man who is so tied up in his own dignity that he is a walking corpse. Honestly, track any conversation he has in the novel. He barely speaks, and what he does say is as boring as batshit. However, my main grievance here is that the murderer's motivations make NO SENSE! Okay, I get that the motivation is to get the seminary shut down so his son will inherit a metric fuckton of money. So why viciously murder the guy who is doing everything he can to shut down the seminary? WHY the secrecy about the marriage? Why kill the first victim to keep her quiet about the marriage?? Surely it will have to come out if the son is to inherit. What difference does it make to keep it secret? I just can't make sense of it at all, and it's really bugging me. Oh, and the staunch sympathy for the plight of the poor pedophile priest? Yes, he was such a victim! Wait, WHAT?!?! Seriously, WTF?

  • Chana
    2019-03-17 08:39

    I enjoyed the setting and I do like Commander Dalgliesh. The story was reasonably good. What I didn't understand was the author's sympathy for her priest character who has spent time in jail for molesting, although not raping, young boys. The author makes the rest of the characters, except one, sympathetic to this character with the idea that pursuing a conviction and jail time were betrayals, not Christian charity, too harsh. I didn't understand if this was just supposed to be part of the story or if this was the author's viewpoint. She seemed to be saying that a little fondling was not a crime. Excuse me? It certainly is. It was odd to read. The author worked in criminal justice. In fact there were some other disturbing sexual relations going on in this book at the theological college that everyone just kind of looked the other way. I don't remember this from other P.D. James books.

  • Fr.Bill M
    2019-03-15 03:30

    Fans of crime/mystery fiction already know how/why P. D. James' work is worthy of reading and rereading. This novel confers additional blessing in its portrain of Anglo-Catholic Anglicanism in Britain. If that scene holds any interest for you (ahem ... it does for me), then this book delivers a double payload of entertainment.

  • Diane Challenor
    2019-02-27 07:59

    I think I must be the only person in the western world who hadn't read the work of PD James. What a fantastic writer and she's written so many books. I look forward to working my way through her stories.

  • Lyn Elliott
    2019-03-06 04:49

    I've read this before, seen it on tv, and it held up to yet another reading. I've always been interested in the way James teases out the effects of nasty things people do or say to each other as well as of death in suspicious circumstances.Here she takes time to create her characters and to lead us into understanding the tensions within this small, isolated community, disrupted from its usual quiet routines by external pressures from the church hierarchy and a group of weekend visitors. And Dalgleish is always Dalgleish, overlaid forever for me by the actor, Roy Strong.

  • Hannah
    2019-02-23 03:38

    Commander Adam Dalgliesh of New Scotland Yard has been asked by Sir Alred Treeves to take a closer look into the suspicious death of his adopted son Ronald, who suffocated under the cliffs near St. Anselms by an avalanche of sand. Was it an accident, suicide, or murder? Dalgliesh, the son of a rector, has former ties to the school - as a young teen, he spent several happy summer holidays there among the priests and ordinands.There is no shortage of possible suspects, or motives, for Ronald's death. But before Dalgliesh even arrives on the scene, another death occurs - a death everyone else considers natural and expected. Dalgliesh wonders otherwise. As the body count continues to rise, so too the means, motive and opportunity of almost the entire community of St. Anselms. Dalgliesh and his team steadily work to reveal the killer or killers before someone else falls victim. Long-time widower Dalgliesh is furthered hampered in the investigation by his unexpected feelings for a visiting guest lecturer, Emma Lavenham. Will the possibility of love turn out to be a blessing or curse for Dalgliesh?Death in Holy Orders is another extremely entertaining whodunnit by P.D. James, and without a doubt my favorite (so far) of the three I've read (in backwards order). Very possibly, this has everything to do with the excellent TV adaptation starring Martin Shaw as Dalgliesh, Robert Hardy as Father Martin and Jesse Spencer as Raphael Arbuthnot. The movie stayed fundamentally true to the events from the book, but also added another layer of texture to the story and characters IMO.The thing I liked most about the story was the backdrop; St. Anselms, the fictional elitist theological college on a remote Suffolk coast, which is known for turning out the best and brightest Anglican priests, but is now in danger of being decommissioned by the CoE powers that be (not to mention the very real threat of the college tumbling into the North Sea by an eroding cliffline). The solitude found in and around the setting, along with the contemplative (almost monastic) aspect of the story definitely appealed to my personal taste. The characters carried around their own brand of P.D. James' favorite pet vices; petty power struggles, greed, various sexual insecurities/proclivities, religious apathy and a pervading sense of depression.Good, if predictable, fare. I'll have more, please.

  • Gary
    2019-03-08 07:54

    Typical mediocre mystery fiction. This book was as predictable as it was long. From the first scene portrayed in the book, the conclusion is obvious. It seems as if James is trying to sneak little clues in so when the reader finishes (shocked, of course, at the outcome "I NEVER saw that one coming!") he can return to the beginning and discover the subtle clues that in fact verify the conclusion. The problem is, her subtle clues are a few shades less than subtle.James seems intent on playing mind games with the reader, as if we would second guess our hypothesis every other page: "Uh oh, HE can't have done it, he doesn't even HAVE a brown cloak! Wait a minute!"The only main theme one can pull from this rather pretentious little novel is that pigs do not stink. It seems as though the author is a pig enthusiast and can't bear the thought that so many people think they have an unpleasant odor.Character development suffers, particularly on the part of the hero, commander Adam Dalgliesh. The reader comes to be more enamored with the (rather perverse) sub-characters than with the protagonist.James' feeble attempt at inserting a romantic element is sickening. Dalgliesh is first drawn to a "ravishingly beautiful" murder suspect, feeling a strange attraction that, we are told, he has not felt since the death of his wife.Poorly done. Long. Dragging. Lame climax.

  • Carol
    2019-03-11 07:32

    Another well crafted mystery with a series of murders and intrigues set at a private school run by the Anglican church near London. Again the protagonist detectives wend their ways through the hints and clues and ultimately the crimes are solved. It was a good book to read. Not too easy to solve and the characters ran true. Adam Daglgleish may have discovered new love, which I guess will be good altho I have only read two books so I am not sure his personality needs it. We'll see.

  • Clare
    2019-03-09 07:37

    Listened to in audio format.I am really enjoying the Commander Dalgleish Series. I do not have the full series, but I have been listening to the novels I do own in order. I recently finished The Murder Room, but had to buy Death in Holy Order to find out how Adam met Emma Lavenham, who becomes his girlfriend in the subsequent book.I have read previous reviewers who mention the paedophile priest. This storyline was only mentioned 3 times in the entire book and was in no way part of the story so do not let you put you off. The book starts with finding the dead body of Ronald Treeves, a young theology student at St Anselms. Ronald died climbing a sandy cliff which fell suffocating him. The coroner deemed his death as suicide, Ronald a prominent man is not happy with the ruling and asks Adam to investigate.Adam is in a weeks leave and actually stayed at St Anselms as a child so he is quite happy to speak to the staff. It is arranged that Adam will stay at the college but will joined with some other guests over the weekend. The guests are Roger Yarwood a policeman on sick leave, a man writing a thesis on St Anselms, Emma Lavenham a university lecturer and Father Martin Petrie. Perrier is not a nice man and upsets the priests by wanting to close the college.Surprise, surprise during the weekend Father John is murdered and the death of Ronald Treeves takes a backseat. When the Suffolk police allow The Met to investigate the killing, Adam and his team encounter secrets at the college which nearly result in the death of Adam.This was an enjoyable story by P D James, however I have only awarded four stars because I could not work out the motivation of the killer.

  • Eric_W
    2019-03-25 03:51

    P. D. James continues to write very literate and interesting mysteries featuring her well-read inspector Adam Dalgliesh. This recent edition has a great story, although the motivations of the murderer left me disbelieving. His rationale just did not seem especially valid, but the scenarios and characters are complex and interesting. The setting for this novel is St. Anselm's, a small theological college on a lonely stretch of the Anglian coast, so isolated that a fallen tree on the only road to the college can effectively block all access to it. The students are housed in an old Victorian mansion with all sorts of nooks and crannies. Increasingly threatened by the financial burdens on the college, the local archdeacon wants to close the college -- he becomes one of the murder victims -- but his past ties with one of the teachers make his judgments suspect. All of the professors and some of the ordinands (those studying to become Anglican priests) have nefarious events in their past or antipathy toward one or other of the rest of the characters. A local police inspector is there for a while, recuperating from psychological problems, and he has reason to hate the archdeacon, an antipathy reciprocated because of the investigator’s investigation into the death of the archdeacon's first wife and his ongoingl certainty of the archdeacon's culpability. Dalgliesh becomes involved because he had been asked to investigate the ostensible suicide of one of the ordinands who had apparently killed himself by lying under an outcropping of sand and then causing it to collapse suffocating himself. Dalgliesh has nostalgic memories of the college, having spent some time there in his youth. By the end of the investigation, several others have been killed in order to hide a secret — and this is where the plot falls apart, I think — that would have, by necessity, have come out in any case. In a portrayal of human evil, James reveals a nasty mess of intertwined jealousy, greed, deceit, anger and revenge, not to ignore murder. The ultimate cause of the murders is the endowment that, if the college is closed, will pass to the remaining professors, or to the heir of the Arbuthnot estate. It gets wonderfully complicated, and James's nonpareil writing holds one enthralled right to the end despite my earlier caveat.

  • Kirsty Darbyshire
    2019-02-26 01:53

    I get annoyed with PD James because of the feeling that surrounds her that says that she's head and shoulders better than every other crime writer around. That and the fact that she only writes about terribly posh people as if that's all there is in the world. This is a version of the very traditional English detective story - deaths in a small community where only an insider can be guilty. The story is nothing terribly inventive and there are a hundred crime writers out there writing tales set around much better plots.The characters here are pretty well drawn though; I find them all slightly unbelievable just because of who they are but they do appear real all the same. There's a sense that James is taking the mickey out of herself when someone comments that not all of the twenty students at the theological college the book is set at have had priviledged upbringings - one of them actually came through the state school system.I haven't read any James for quite a while, apart from rereading the two Cordelia Grey books on audio last year, I read most of them as a teenager and I'm not sure I'd be able to put up with the characters for long enough to read them all again now. I always find Inspector Kate Miskin to be a shadow of what she could be. Her background is one of poverty and working her way up the ranks of the Met and it never rings true. Kate sometimes feels out of place in the circles Dalgleish moves in, both social and literary, but I always feel she's just been put in for show. Perhaps it's just that at the end of the day she is the sidekick and Dalgleish is the main attraction but I do wish James had made her more than she has.This isn't a bad book just not a terribly exciting, interesting or innovative one.

  • Radha
    2019-02-23 08:35

    Quite an interesting book, but did not really sustain interest till the end. If your interest in crime fiction drops once you find out who the murderer is, and you don't care much for the chase for proof which could serve the prosecution's case, then the last 50 odd pages in this book are superfluous. However, I haven't read the earlier Dalgleish novels and I suppose the prolonged ending was included to finally show how Dalgleish found peace in the restoration of justice.As a stranger to the setting in which the book happens, the significance of some concepts like wafers etc were lost on me and required some googling. And, it didn't settle well with me that so many of the characters in the book, clergy and otherwise, felt irrational anger that a child molester was found guilty in court.

  • Velma
    2019-03-02 03:56

    I can't help it: mystery novels are captivating. No overwrought love stories, no "my parents put my through a horrible childhood, & all I got was this lousy t-shirt" memoir flashbacks, and no excruciating historical minutiae chronicling forgotten events. The best ones are just a rollicking good story. And P.D. James' Death in Holy Orders is just that, and it features an erudite cast of characters in a setting of isolated and breathtaking scenery to boot. James' literary talents sometimes outshine her storytelling abilities (some of her foreshadowing is somewhat heavy-handed), but I enjoyed this British crime drama, particularly the portrayal of the Church of England as a character in its own right. BookCrossing'ed April 2, 2010 - BCID: 611-7980377

  • Jojoma
    2019-03-26 07:31

    I'm realizing I just don't enjoy P.D. James's mysteries. Although I love a good murder mystery, I find her tone a little snobbish and superior, as though she references things in the hope you won't get the joke and therefore will feel a need to be more literate. One paragraph I read here (wish I could find it!) made me feel she was equating pedophile with homosexuality or least suggesting one leads to another and that upset me for its sheer ignorance, or at least ambiguity.I'm going to give the the Dalgliesh books I have away...

  • Laurie Buchanan
    2019-02-24 00:59

    My husband and I listened to DEATH IN HOLY ORDERS by P.D. James on CD during a cross-country road trip through Big Sky Country—Montana. Even though the speed limit in the wide open expanse is already high (80 mph in many areas), we found ourselves pressing the accelerator with increasing intensity as the plot thickened with sinister twists and turns. We’ll definitely accompany Commander Adam Dalgliesh on future investigations!

  • Fiona
    2019-03-20 03:32

    Very atmospheric, gripping crime story. My first PD James so some of the references to Dalglish's private life were lost on me but the story itself is well-written and a real page turner. I wasn't so convinced by the ending but enjoyed getting there.

  • Bettie☯
    2019-03-21 05:41

    Bettie's Books

  • Abbie
    2019-02-24 06:46

    Meh. I don't think I'm a P.D. James fan. But I am definitely going to try and read "Death Comes to Pemberly"

  • Silvio111
    2019-02-26 02:49

    I sporadically go back to P.D. James' Adam Dalgliesh mysteries. The plots are always good, but I have to say that Dalgliesh irritates me. He takes himself so seriously and is so ponderous. And of course, from time to time, we are reminded that he is a poet, which personally, I think he should keep this info to himself. I would love to see a pastiche where Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael and Inspector Dalgliesh have to go on a long journal together (either by horse or by train, since they would be crossing six centuries to spend time together.)But I think in his humble yet earthy way, Cadfael would nudge Dalgliesh out of his self-absorbed, pious affect and force him to rough it a little bit and stop being so Jesuitical.I confess that this is one of the Dalgliesh books that I suspect I read about 15 years ago and probably enjoyed, and I am going to read it to the end, but I just had to get that off my chest.+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++Okay, now I have finished this book. I still agree with my earlier comments. Dagliesh is just too full of himself, in the most self-effacing way, of course.Here are many of the things that I found irritating about this story of P.D. James':1. The just borderline pornographic situation of a woman having an incestuous relationship with her (half)-brother, who is painfully less socially and intellectually adept than she. Because of his dog-like devotion to her (and James lays it on thick that because she is female, she is EVIL), she convinces him to steal a consecrated host from the church. If this is not religious porn, I don't know what is...2. The priest who was convicted of pedophilia (sex with his choirboys or seminarians or something) is portrayed as a victim of injustice, besides having a sweet, innocent and somewhat scatterbrained nature. So imagine one of Agatha Christie's truly innocent vicars, and make them a pedophile, and there you are.3. Dalgliesh MUST get entangled with the beautiful professor, just because. (I think I remember that in subsequent books they are an item, but his solitary, arrogant nature and her fiercely independent yet vulnerable female nature cause dissonance. Of course.And finally, I have to say this probably betrays my ignorance of the Church of England, but I spent the first 100 pages wondering if these were Catholic priests because of all the discussion of confession and communion. Then there were references to something being "Roman," (meaning Protestantism influenced by Catholicism.) And yes, most of the priests are married, so they can't be Catholic.I don't know why I keep giving P.D. James another try. Dalgliesh just wears me out.

  • Cheri
    2019-03-04 02:37

    I generally like P.D. James' books, but I had two major problems with this one. First, she didn't seem to take the problem of a priest abusing children seriously, which is disgraceful. Second, the strong motive that everyone seemed to think the murderer had seemed vanishingly unlikely to me. My main pleasure in this book was James' writing style, and even that got a bit wordy.

  • Beth
    2019-03-14 00:39

    Disappointed in this, my first James mystery (though I've read *Children of Men*). There's a weird apology for an abusive priest running through it along with what felt like way too many red herring motives....

  • Monica
    2019-03-04 06:59

    As expected, a rich and rewarding read.

  • Laura Andersen
    2019-03-04 06:35

    In which Dalgliesh's shut-down life comes to a crossroads.

  • Maika
    2019-03-12 08:52

    No engancha nada. De lo peor que he leído de ella

  • Meg
    2019-03-04 04:39

    Definitely one of the lesser P.D. James books for me, with an aspect that troubled me morally.The setting - a secluded old estate by the sea, with a few quaint old cottages for commoners - seemed overly familiar. So did the participants - a collection of well-off academics who only enjoy high culture. The characterisation felt black-and-white. Main character Dalgliesh was annoyingly self-righteous, distant and superior, but the writer never showed that in a negative light. Dalgliesh' love interest and pals were also without any flaws. At the same time those considered antagonists in the story seemed to be without redeeming qualities.Nothing awfully inventive about the plot either, the ending was an anti-climax, and the motivation behind the deaths was not built in a fully convincing manner. The pace seemed to drag on throughout. There were ramblings about religion and morals that felt as if James just wanted to force a few of her own random musings into a murder mystery. I found myself leafing through many parts of the unnecessarily long 600-page book.I used to quite enjoy the timeless, escapist environment of James' books, but now it felt she's unable to keep up with the times. It all felt very old-fashioned for a book published just a decade ago. It could've easily been set at any time in the last century, if there hadn't been a few jarring mobiles thrown in. However, what especially bothered me was the outdated and rather bizarre stance on morality. A female is considered unfeeling and selfish for having casual sex, while everyone feels sorry for a man who went to prison for "just" (!) fondling children. I kept waiting for the molester to get his comeuppance; that would've been a nice twist, to prove even holier-than-thou Dalgliesh wrong. But, it never came, so there was no need for that disturbing "kind-hearted molester" aspect to be there - except the author seemingly trying to make her own opinion known. I just thought that kind of an opionion could've been left out from a book like this.I'm a very sporadic James reader, but this book still was frustrating, since some of her work is excellent. Now this book makes me wonder if Mrs. James - who was 80 when she wrote it - should retire and tour grand English estates instead.

  • Robin
    2019-02-26 07:59

    Goodreads needs another rating between "I hated it" and "It was ok". I can't at all recommend this book, but I don't wish it destroyed either. (And yes, there are some books I wish destroyed!)I would like to be able to say I liked Death in Holy Orders because I've seen Masterpiece Theatre productions of PD James' work on PBS and thought them really good. I really like her Dalgliesh character, and I love a convoluted mystery.**spoiler alert**But, though the book has a total of 4 murders to solve, it also included a few plot-holes, too many unsympathetic characters, weak theology (for a work about a religious college) and an emotionally removed MC who, even when he does get upset, James can't bring us into his head and into the story so that we feel what he feels. And what I especially didn't care for in this book was that the wrap-up is given in a letter of confession from the killer. Oh, the police had solved the case, but with the letter any emotional involvement we the reader had is seriously diluted.Other quibbles: the first death is a purported mystery from page 3, but it turns out to be perfectly straightforward. Until the letter, the reader is never absolutely sure it couldn't have been someone else. Death #4 is just left hanging; we never find out if it was a murder, if it tied into the other deaths, or even exactly what happened when the person was killed. And (on a personal note), I think James' writing style has problems.

  • Kokila Gupta
    2019-03-11 07:56

    How will you rate a mystery/crime fiction written beautifully but CLEARLY lacking in the motive for crime!!It is written with such a sharp eye for detail that it felt like reading a novel of manners drenched in blood!The narration is full,complete to perfection leaving nothing to imagination. My MAJOR grievance the LACK of the motive for the murder(s)made me dislike (hate is too strong a word) it after I finished. It did not make sense!And due to it , it felt like a waste of time .Grrrr...Though despite my grumblings,it does offers vivid imagery of the bleak east coat ,of the small theological college with all prevailing silence unnerving at times, but otherwise providing repose from the charivari of town, beautiful and realistic characterisation (scored full here) and some lines worth reproducing-"I can imitate you but I can't hope to emulate you""Unwelcome words gained in intensity if softly spoken"Special Mention - I was intrigued by Dalgliesh.He did not speak more then two paragraphs in whole book but a poet and an intellectual, he seemed different. Though again for my irritation he took too long to solve the crime and that too without zest,charm or even wit. Hopes he gets better in the next. My VERDICTLeave it, if you are a veteran reader of detective fiction and looks for a taut plot with a crisp climax.You may read if you like nuanced portrayal of cast,settings and situations in a narrative immersed in nature's symbolism.

  • trishtrash
    2019-02-27 03:32

    In Death in Holy Orders, eleventh in the Adam Dalgliesh crime fiction series, his planned vacation is rerouted to a place he once stayed as a boy, a small religious college in an isolated coastal region, where a young ordinand’s death has been designated as an accident, but an anonymous letter to his father has since aroused suspicion - Dalgliesh arrives to find not one suspicious death at the college, but two, and these are followed by a brutal and very obvious murder. I find P. D. James refreshing to read; her non-series characters (those who are not Dalgliesh, his colleagues, or connected to him personally) are incredibly well written, no matter how peripheral they may be. I’ve begun making a point of picking one up whenever a previous book disappoints me in terms of characterisation – to prove to myself that I’m not just being picky, that it’s possible to infuse any genre with individuals who are neither lazily portrayed, nor overplayed to compensate. There are other female crime writers who are just as strong in this area, but I’m on a P. D. James kick just now, because she also plots and instils atmosphere wonderfully, as well; in this book, the sadness and isolation were layered with beautiful subtlety. Death in Holy Orders seemed a little long-winded in places (there seemed to be more ‘middle’ to this book than was strictly necessary) but a very rewarding read.