Read The Black Tower by P.D. James Online


Warner celebrates New York Times bestselling author P.D. James with these new editions of her classic crime novels. In what Publishers Weekly calls a literate, intelligent, intriguing novel of suspense, perennial James character Adam Dalgliesh must find the hidden pattern in a seemingly senseless series of slayings....

Title : The Black Tower
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780743219617
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 352 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Black Tower Reviews

  • booklady
    2019-05-10 05:11

    The best I've read by James yet. Not sure if James or Inspector Dalgliesh are growing on me. Both are acquired tastes I'm convinced of that. The fact that James is a subtle writer and Adam is a not very charming sleuth don't really explain anything...or do they? In this story, we catch a few more glimpses into the mysterious character of our detective. I find myself liking Adam in spite of himself, or is it because I feel sorry for him? He's brilliant, cold, aloof, calculating and a born investigator, but a rather sorry human being. He solves his crimes but he doesn't always come out on top like Poirot or other serial detectives, which makes him and the stories more interesting.

  • Katharine
    2019-04-25 04:14

    Continuing my investigation of a new author for me, I got a couple more PD James novels at the library. I'm beginning to come to the conclusion that James is not worth reading when she tries to be deep and thought-provoking and to elucidate Serious Themes. Because she just comes across as ponderous, self-important, and well, boring. The Black Tower is an okay mystery, I guess, but I had a really hard time getting into the story and as it progressed I wasn't particularly entertained. The writing is fair but James seems to be better at quick-sketch characterization than intensive studies. I don't find Dalgleish to be a very convincing detective hero, and none of the other characters were terribly sympathetic. Her style can work, as in the first James I read, if she has at least one sympathetic character and the rest are interesting if not likable. But it didn't work in this case. And what struck me as a minor flaw in the first novel I read, her obsessively detailed scene descriptions, are by now becoming irritatingly forced. I think I need to give James a break and maybe read one now and then when I'm in the mood. It all comes down to the fact that I prefer my mysteries to be entertaining, light, escapist reading, and James just isn't fitting the bill.

  • Lynn
    2019-05-03 02:08

    P.D. James and I have a history. It's fraught with frequent absences and long periods of silence. Then I get it into my head that I need to reacquaint myself with one of the grande dames of mystery. Sometimes it works, sometimes not so much. The Black Tower is one of my unsuccessful outings with James. Commander Adam Dalgliesh receives a letter from a priest who was a family friend. Father Baddley requests that Dalgliesh visit him to provide professional advice. As Dalgliesh is recovering from an illness, he sees it as an opportunity to convalesce in the countryside. Upon arrival, he finds that the priest has passed due to heart failure. Father Baddley has been the religious adviser to a home for disabled people; his cottage is located on their property. Dalgliesh finds himself drawn into the community and soon it appears something is amiss. However, it took about 300 pages for the book to get interesting. It's a 2.5 for me rounded up to a 3 because there is no question James can write. The path to the big reveal was just a little ponderous for me.

  • Lisa
    2019-05-17 09:09

    I don't understand how anyone can like this book. Take the spitefulness of Melrose Place, add the sex appeal of Confederacy of Dunces, and sprinkle on the inanity of a Jane Austen heroine (none of it in a good way) and you've got The Black Tower. Who would ever do any of the things that the characters do in this book? And they do boring things, by the way, nonsensically boring - the worst kind of boring. Let's eat together every night in silence except for we'll take turns reading boring stuff aloud. Tonight is my turn, I'll read the phone book while you slouch in your wheelchair and masticate your food. Since half the potential suspects are in wheelchairs, the inspector has to keep the reader guessing by constantly speculating that this or that criminal act could not have been committed by a resident in a wheelchair EXCEPT if they had an accomplice - ooooh! The worst is at the climax...(spoiler alert)At the exact moment that the inspector finally figures out what is going on - not by good sleuthing but by having everything suddenly occur to him, it turns out that the bad guy has simultaneously figured out that he figured it out and disconnects the phone lines. The climatic confrontation is almost laughable. When the good guy tries to make the phone call, the bad guy pops out and with no other preamble, asks 'How did you know it was me?' It was like the start of a Laurel and Hardy routine: Um, how did you know that I know that it was you?? except it wasn't supposed to be funny. The writing was fine, but the characters, the narrative, the action - not so great.

  • Matthew L.
    2019-04-22 07:54

    Hoo boy.This book is the definition of the word slow. It is a convalescence book about a character to whom I had little to no connection. I wonder if I would have felt differently if I had read any other books starring Adam Dalgliesh, but I didn't and I found the references to the case he was recovering from kind of irritating. Like an in-joke to which I wasn't privy.I loved the sense of the solitude and reduced speed of Dorset, but it took too long to get to the action and I had very little attachment to the story. I also found the characters generally confusing and not terribly well fleshed out. The last 80 or so pages picked up, but it took me a long time to get through this mere 350 page novel. I'd not recommend it, unless you like lurid descriptions of flowers and stories viewed through a mist. I'm inclined to try another of her books as I feel I may have just picked up the wrong one for starters and I'd give it a star and a half. The writing isn't bad, but when I feel like I'm slogging through a book I'm reading for pleasure, there is something amiss.Beh.

  • Divya
    2019-04-30 02:50

    I picked up this book hoping to find another murder-mystery author I could enjoy as much as I do Christie. This book takes place in a nursing home for the invalid. Where people are killed off one after the other is what seem like accidents. Inspector Dalgliesh slowly tries to pu pieces together and get to the bottom of the killings.The plot is tedious. The narrative creaks and groans and whimpers and almost left me in a stupor.And having reached the end of the book I'm surprised I made it till the last page.I was thinking of trying another of her books - a more popular one - and then I read this article : where she thinks of Christie as "such a bad writer" : ""I don't think I'd enjoy P.D. James - her sensibilities about what makes a good murder-mystery are obviously starkly different from mine.

  • Jan C
    2019-04-26 03:08

    Maybe ★★★ 1\2.Adam Dalgliesh learns a little something about false diagnoses. Then he goes to visit a friend who apparently died just before he arrives. The friend was working as a counselor/priest at a nursing home (?) for quadriplegics at a converted estate. But the bodies keep falling and they all appear to be natural causes. There were too many for natural causes to have killed them all.All this while Adam is considering leaving the Met. This was okay but as I was listening to this today, I kind of think I dozed off for a couple of chapters because when I woke up he was solving it. And facing other problems. I've been working my way through the Adam Dalgliesh stories and with James' recent passing, I will continue.

  • Kirsten
    2019-05-04 04:16

    This is possibly one of James's most introspective and well-handled mysteries. Recovering from a severe illness and newly aware of his mortality, Adam Dalgliesh makes the decision to leave the police force. Before returning to tender his resignation, however, he decides to visit an old friend who has written him alluding to a need for advice. Father Michael is the chaplain at Toynton Grange, a home for the "young disabled" in Dorset, and it seems like as good a place as any to convalesce. When Dalgliesh arrives, however, he finds a morass of a mystery.This mystery shares a lot of characteristics with James's later Death in Holy Orders; both are excellent, but I'd recommend not reading them in quick succession, as I found the similarities somewhat distracting.

  • Daniel
    2019-04-26 05:50

    A short take:James writes sensual prose, while Dalgliesh continues to pull me in. I didn't go for his resolution to leave police work, but then, I know that 9 more books follow this volume, so there were no stakes in this prospect for me. As usual, the mystery, itself, is secondary to the character histories that manifest during the ensuing investigation. James is very good at writing about people and the complicated muddle they make of their lives. Murder is nasty; reading this book was pleasant.More thoughts:Would a murderer continue killing people in the middle of an active investigation, let alone an investigation in which a renowned officer is living within 200 meters of the victim? So far, the last three Dalgliesh books have featured this trope, without which, hypothetically, Dalgliesh would be left short of needed evidence to resolve the facts of each crime. But to keep killing in the vicinity of an officer is stupid. This judgment does not detract from my enjoyment of the book, but it does keep the plot strong attached to fiction--which is fine by me: Dalgliesh and his adventures do not need to be true-to-life for me to like them.

  • Kyrie
    2019-05-12 03:13

    Dalgliesh is recovering from a serious illness and gets a letter from an old family friend who's working at a home for the disabled? Permanently ill? Not sure exactly what to call the place - it's not a nursing home for the elderly, but it's definitely a care place.Anyhow, the writing was difficult for me. It was like being ill along with Dalgliesh and not being able to quite grasp things or wondering if I had a fever again or what.I don't usually care for the list of characters at the beginning of a book. In this one, it would have been helpful, as there were a lot of recurring people and they sometimes called people by their first name, sometimes their last, and I often wasn't sure just who we were discussing. They were never distinct to me. Which one was a nurse, which one an aide? Which of the older men were we discussing? Which of the police? Which of the people who died before the tale began?It sorted itself out in the end, but I was frustrated throughout and not really certain it was worth the effort to figure it out. If the intent was to make the reader feel as Dalgliesh felt,then it was a rousing success.

  • Lobstergirl
    2019-05-10 03:58

    I've lost track of how many P.D. James mysteries are set at medical facilities, but it's getting ridiculous. This one is pretty tedious up until the last 30 pages or so. We have a bunch of convalescents, some seriously ill or dying, in wheelchairs (this makes pushing them off cliffs easier). Commander Dalgliesh, himself convalescing from mono that the doctors at first thought was leukemia, serendipitously ends up among them, as they begin to die, apparently from suicide or natural causes. It takes Dalgliesh 253 pages to figure out that there is something more sinister going on - and since he has decided to quit the police force, he keeps pretending he isn't going to get involved anyway. Tiresome! Honestly, the most interesting part was when Dalgliesh was sorting through an old pile of books.

  • Lorraine
    2019-05-17 01:48

    I think that some of P.D. James' best books take place at remote locations or on islands. While this book is on the mainland, it's in a hospital for handicapped adults on the coast high on a cliff by the sea in Dorset, very similar to the island location in The Lighthouse. Dalgleish goes to the clinic to visit his father's old curate, but finds that the man has died before he arrives. There are mysterious staff members who wear hooded robes and some of the patients clearly dislike some of the staff and the other patients, so lots of potential murders. The ending is a surprise.

  • Elizabeth
    2019-04-29 08:47

    Rather disappointing. I picked this book up at a book sale for a song, mostly because the cover advertised the book as "Agatha Christie's Crown Princess" and being a Christie fan I thought I'd try it out. The story was long, boring, and the mystery easy to figure out. Very few of the characters had any appeal to me and quite honestly, I skipped parts just to get through to the end. Sorry to say, I don't think I'll try any more of PD James's books.

  • Julie
    2019-05-18 05:55

    The who with the what now? Now I know that P.D. James' character Adam Dalgliesh is known for suddenly having an ah-ha moment that brings all of the clues together and solves the crime. Ordinarily, I'm fine with that. But in this book, there are so many characters, so many crimes that Adam isn't even working on solving (he is visiting an old friend who lives in the compound of a convalescent home) and yet, at the end, he totally pulls the solution out of thin air! Worst denouement ever!

  • Lauren Albert
    2019-05-06 01:56

    I liked this one with the exception of a couple of problems. They'll seem major but since I tend to like characterization more than plot, for me they weren't. The first is how did Dagliesh come to his conclusion (and how did the murderer for that matter know he had?)? Did I miss something? The second is the long-winded confession that seems to happen a lot in these books.

  • Kathy
    2019-05-16 05:52

    Again, like her others, I love the characters & exposition of the majority of the book, but mystified by some of the twists with the final reveal. Always feel like she pulls in a new element from out of thin air, unconnected to & not even hinted at in the rest of the book.

  • Lizzy
    2019-04-28 06:53

    AD is convalescing as he also tries to solve the mystery of why his priest friend wanted to see him. Alas, he's dead and so begins the dropping bodies. The name were confusing at first as she uses both names at different times. It was atmospheric but not gripping.

  • Kathleen Wells
    2019-04-24 02:50

    A good mystery. I had a little bit of trouble keeping all the characters straight.

  • Syl
    2019-04-30 02:50

    3.5 /5Another mystery done with and dusted up, this year.As my most crime thriller reads are, this too was an impulse read, just to counterbalance the various slow paced, no-violence-involved, family oriented dramas that I was reading. P D James has always remained one of my favourite authors, because I savor the type of slightly soporific murder stories that she tells giving more importance to the surroundings and characters, and with a familiar chief investigator, in this case, Superintendent Mr. Alleyn, who writes poetry in his spare time. Alleyn is called upon by an old curate of his father who seems a bit perturbed in his letter. But he is recovering from a debilitating illness and reaches 11 days late to aid his old friend. He reaches the idyllic disabled person home set in the isolated sea coast of Dover, where rich as well as aid-receiving poor debilitated of all ages and sicknesses are enrolled, perhaps for life. The proprietor is a man who has been saved miraculously from a neurological illness, and is now a changed person trying to help others. His old sister, a grumpy old lady also lives there in a nearby cottage, after having sold her shares to him. The staff is composed of a motley of slightly ill reputed / retired or jobless people. After ALleyn reaches there, other inmates too are in peril, and a couple or so even perish under mysterious circumstances.The mystery, when solved, baffled me. And I never guessed the perpetrator.I loved the descriptions of the sea, the black tower and the way of life in the institute far better than the mystery as such.Would recommend it only to well established fans of PD James. Others are sure to find it boring and dragging.   

  • Lauren
    2019-05-10 08:13

    Excellent climax, and I enjoyed the deeper look into Dalgliesh's character, but the plot was way, way too slow. This is a crime fiction novel -- we all know from the get-go that there's going to be foul play behind most, probably all, the deaths that occur. So it's very frustrating to have to read a couple of hundred pages before Dalgliesh, now a Commander at the Met, allows himself to really acknowledge the same thing.It's the exact opposite defect to that which wrecked Unnatural Causes, but thanks to the tense, well-written climax which showed a side to Dalgliesh that we hadn't yet seen, I at least finished The Black Tower in a better mood than I did Unnatural Causes. However, I'm starting to feel a little disillusioned by the AD series as a whole. PD James has an excellent reputation, of course, and I'd gone in expecting that each instalment would be of consistently good quality, much like Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad series. That, unfortunately, is not the case. I've already started the sixth novel - Death of an Expert Witness - and it's not looking too promising so far. I can only keep hoping that James's work improves in the latter half of the series, because if the rest of it is this hit and miss it's going to be tough going.

  • Melody
    2019-05-03 09:15

    I love P.D. James, but I wasn't crazy about this one. Because this novel takes place in a nursing home of sorts, the characters are all wracked with physical deformities. Their loss of limbs and bodily functions has left an emptiness that is so filled with self-hatred, spite, and anger that I found many of them off-putting and difficult to read. But then, that's the point, isn't it.P.D. James is great because she's always dealing with some major philosophical issue, and in this book, she was dealing with our responses to the grotesque. She asks us to consider the limits of the physical body, and the value that we place on wellness. At what point, she allows Dalgleish to ask, does one's physical ailments become too much to bear. When does one throw in the towel? As readers, turned off by these characters--some evil and hateful, even with their broken bodies--we must question how the body impacts our ability to hear and value another, how it subtly impacts our estimation of their worth. Like all James, well worth the read: thought-provoking and challenging, regardless of whether or not we ultimately love it.

  • Jordan
    2019-05-21 01:13

    My first time reading a P. D. James/Adam Dalgliesh mystery, and it was so much more than I had expected. For some reason, I’ve always lumped P. D. James in with the like of Patricia Cornwall and Stephen King, and nothing could be further from a true classification. The writing itself was excellent, the psychologizing top rate, the mystery itself complex and expertly handled. The story follows Dalgliesh as he is recovering from a bout of serious illness which, when he had thought it would be fatal, had led him to renounce detective work altogether. He goes to convalesce at the cottage of a recently deceased family friend who served as clergyman to an eccentric home for the incurably disabled. The cast is as grotesque as one would imagine in such a setting, though also it is tactfully handled, I thought, and I was surprised at the complexity and sensitivity displayed in the writing of the multiple and varied gay characters (though I felt the women to be a bit one dimensional across the board). Very, very good, leaving one much to consider.

  • Richard
    2019-05-16 07:08

    In an age of television detection in which crimes are often investigated using the most sophisticated technological and psychological tools, and solved by painstaking analysis of the tiniest minutiae of evidence, it comes as something of a surprise that the most striking death in this novel is one that is never officially classified as a crime. But whereas The Black Tower has most of the hallmarks of a conventional murder mystery - including a group of interconnected characters in a remote, enclosed, and slightly unusual location (probably best not to read this book too close to a later Dalgleish novel with a similar setting, The Lighthouse) - the mystery itself is not really that interesting, and its solution seems to leap, if not completely out of nowhere, then at least out of a rather different book. This might be a fatal problem if it were not for P.D. James's writing, and her detective protagonist: both are brilliant in their own way, but subtle, cool, and thoughtful to the point of introspection. The book certainly exerts its own kind of grip; but few thrills.

  • Liza
    2019-05-06 04:57

    Have to remember this was written in the mid 1970s hence its decidedly 'dated' feel. The narrator's attitudes are a touch snobby, homophobic and racist - though the actual style is fluent and engaging. What was most disappointing was the ending - the patients (or their wheelchairs to be more precies) are unwittingly acting as heroin mules. Eh?! Where did that come from??? While the revelation of the culprit in the final denoument wasn't surprising (he was always a bit shifty) the whole of the closing scence lacked credibility and actually relied on various 'deux et machina' devices. Dalgleish was, to me at least, a thinly drawn character - why do so many people rave about him?? The narrator also doesn't seem to approve of women who wear make up and dye their hair ... whoops that's me out then!

  • Ron
    2019-04-22 05:10

    I'd never read any P.D. James before. I think The Black Tower was probably a good choice to begin with. If this book isn't an example of mystery literature then I really don't know what is. Although, it was a bit difficult to read in spots, in all, it was a fine story and wonderful characters. Even the ones we weren't supposed to like were well defined.I'll probably read more Adam Dagliesh books, but, at the moment, I don't have a definite choice in mind. If this one is any example, I don't think I could go very far wrong with any choice from the series. But, might just want to start at the beginning.

  • Eduardo
    2019-05-14 05:16

    I believe that this is one of the most popular books by P. D. James, but I found it fairly boring, too long, uninteresting (as a mystery novel), and almost formulaic in its plot and concept. So much so that it has for a while --hopefully-- removed in me the desire to keep reading her, as was my plan. I gave it two stars because some of the characters are kind-of-salvageable and the first third of the novel promised some good reading that did not materialize eventually, as it dragged on and on towards absolute tedium...

  • Liz
    2019-05-07 09:02

    I usually like PD James but I just could not get into this one. Too many characters whose relationships were not made clear, and none of whom were memorable enough that I could remember who was who. I powered through, and honestly, even the last 20 pages were a bit torturous. I'll come right out and say it- I didn't really care what happened, and just sort of skimmed it just to be able to feel like I had finished the book.

  • María-Columna
    2019-05-13 05:14

    No me ha gustado. No me he enterado en realidad. No distinguía los personajes, no entendía la situación ni el lugar, las descripciones me han parecido un poco pesadas y el libro en general me ha aburrido.

  • Katie
    2019-05-01 06:12

    I had such a hard time getting through it. I also thought there were several things that were confusing -- I never figured out what the murderer was doing there in the first place (I'm sure I read about his role somewhere at the beginning of the book and forgot about it). And I never really understood why it the book is called "The Black Tower" -- it seems to me like the tower didn't have that much to do with the story. I just thought it was really boring.

  • Writerlibrarian
    2019-05-17 09:14

    This one is more an atmospheric murder mystery with an aura of angst, sorrow, regrets (mostly coming from Adam Dalgliesh's) and the malicious intents and actions coming from the tennants of the home. Dalgliesh's brush with death is like a grey cloud over the whole novel. Not a bad mystery but a melancolic and sorrowful one.