P.D. James in great form with ‘The Private Patient’

  Rule Britannia. P.D. James continues to craft mystery novels that are appreciated on both sides of the Atlantic.
  The 88-year-old author is close to top form in her latest work, “The Private Patient.” James is heir to the legacy of British mystery legends, such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, but she surpasses them with her intricate plots and insights into Britain’s patrician class.
  James evokes the era of elegant drawing-room mysteries, but brings her readers into the modern era as her characters deal with personal communications devices, computers and a faster-paced life. She delves deeply into the psychology of  her protagonists.
  Investigative journalists Rhoda Gradwyn is the private patient and the first victim in the book. Gradwyn elects to have a facial scar that she has carried most of her life removed because, “I no longer have need of it.”
  Of course, the enigmatic Gradwyn can’t go to an ordinary hospital. James sets her mystery in a stately country manor that has been converted into a posh clinic. The plastic surgeon, George Chandler-Powell, faces ruin because of the unwanted publicity after Gradwyn is strangled shortly after her operation.
  Police Commander Adam Dalgliesh, with the help of his team, solves the mystery and carries on his romance with Emma with his usual intensity and restraint. James’ characters are always so very upper-class British. They confront each other and trade insults, but keep their simmering emotions in check.
  James, who was born in Oxford, brings a wealth of experience to her craft, including work in the British Home Office Police Department and Criminal Policy Department. Many countries have honored her. The Mystery Writers of America gave her its Grandmaster award and she was named a life peer by the British in 1993. James’ prose is at times convoluted, but her novels reward those who enjoy mysteries with depth and insight into modern British society.

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