London born actress Rosalyn Landor is the perfect choice to read a P. D. James mystery. The daughter of an actor/broadcaster Landor grew up with reading aloud, story telling, and that love for the spoken word is reflected in her voice performances. Her readings are well modulated, precise as she carries listeners along to what is in this case a surprising denouement.
What lover of mysteries has not read or at least heard of P.D. James? The author of 19 books she spent some 30 years in the British Civil Service and recently celebrated her 88th birthday. One of her many gifts to readers is the creation of Commander Adam Dalgliesh, a consummate investigator who is often given to Holmesian discussions as he presents his thoughts to various characters and suspects.
With The Private Patient we visit an impressive old house, Cheverell Manor in Dorset. Once a family home it was sold of necessity to an eminent plastic surgeon, George H. Chandler-Powell, who now operates it as a clinic for the privileged. Rhoda Gradwyn comes to him for the removal of a disfiguring facial scar. She's an investigative journalist (her work is similar to that of a reporter for a supermarket tabloid in the USA). She's with us only briefly as she's soon dead of strangulation, a murder committed by an unknown person wearing latex gloves.
While the crime most definitely has affected Rhoda, it also affects the good doctor as who would want to come to a clinic where a murder has just occurred? Commander Dalgliesh is summoned to investigate. He has a great deal to look into considering the clinic staff, the departed's boyfriend, and others who were a part of her life for good or ill.
Once again James treats us to her vivid descriptions of setting and extensive vocabulary - the perfect word for every thought and situation. A pleasure to read - do so slowly and savor this author's unique style.
- Gail Cooke
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