James, P D The Lighthouse

ISBN 13: 9780141025100

The Lighthouse

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9780141025100: The Lighthouse

Combe Island off the Cornish coast has a bloodstained history of piracy and cruelty but now, privately owned, it offers respite to over-stressed men and women in positions of high authority who require privacy and guaranteed security. But the peace of Combe is vilated when one of the distinguished visitors is bizarrely murdered. Adam Dalgliesh is called in to solve the mystery quickly and discreetly, but at a difficult time for him and his depleted team, who all have worries of their own. Hardly have the team began to unravel the mystery when there is a second brutal killing and the investigation is jeopardized when Dalgliesh is faced with a potentially fatal danger...

This powerful novel combines all the elements P D James fans have come to expect: a vivid evocation of place, sensitive characterisation and a superbly structured plot.

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Review:

While PD Jamesí The Lighthouse moves satisfyingly in territory that the author has made very much her own -- the classic English crime mystery -- there are several new elements added, proving that Baroness James is not content to rest on her laurels. While Commander Adam Dalgliesh is once again at work, solving a case of murder in a secluded setting, cut off from the rest of the world (James has long been pleased to introduce variations into the beloved crime situations that exercised her predecessors), and while the structure of the novel presents the reader with the usual strongly drawn cast of suspects and victims, there is a new frankness here, with the treatment of sexuality more upfront than would ever have been countenanced in the era of Dorothy Sayers and co. But long-time readers of this most accomplished of British novelists will also be pleased to learn that the things we turn to James for are all satisfyingly in place.

A secluded island off the Cornish coast, renowned for its history of bloody piracy, has become a retreat for under-pressure men and women in the upper echelons of society. But when one of their number is murdered in a grotesque fashion (his body found on the eponymous lighthouse), Adam Dalgliesh is requested to solve the case, but with maximum discretion. However, it is not a good time for Dalgliesh and his team: he himself is going through a fraught period with the woman in his life, Emma Lavenham, while DI Kate Miskin is struggling with similar upheavals in her life. And their Anglo-Indian associate, Francis Benton-Smith, has his own problems in regard to working with Kate. Nevertheless, the team make progress on the island, until a second savage murder threatens to bring chaos.

It's easy to underestimate Jamesí achievement with Dalgliesh and co. So often, long-time series characters betray signs of their authorsí growing disinterest, but James has always managed to find new nuances to ensure that we never tire of her cultivated copper. And there's pleasure here in seeing familiar themes orchestrated with such finesse: the difficult, combative figure who alienates a host of people (and thereby set themselves up as a candidate for murder) and, best of all, the cloistered setting -- often a cliché of the genre -- but here, treated with freshness and imagination. --Barry Forshaw

Review:

[The Lighthouse] must stand as one of the last in the line of classic English detective fiction. (Mark Lawson Guardian 2005-10-15)

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James, P D
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James, P D
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