Getting a copy of a novel you’ve read by one of your favorite authors must be one of those treats like ice cream on a hot afternoon. I stumbled across a discounted hardback of P.D. James’ The Private Patient, published in 2008. What was I doing in 2008? Why did I not pick up this plum immediately? In the bookstore, I asked myself, had I read this before? I must have read this before. But Callooh! Callay! I had not. So in I plunged immediately to the check out.
P.D.James is ninety-one, which means she might have been eighty-seven when she wrote this. Already having written seventeen novels, after a full career of British government work, here is another Adam Dalgleish mystery, featuring the Scotland Yard poet detective. The comfort and range of creating a character, building his life, and those of his colleagues must be enormously pleasurable; it brings to mind the razor-sharp Dorothy Sayers and her world of Lord Peter Wimsey.
The appeal of British village mysteries, with their murders contained in an affable world, more affable because we know the mystery will be solved, the motives laid bare, maybe is akin to being inside a cozy home while the rainstorm rages outside. That was my experience last night. It may not be her best novel, but it is certainly a good one so far.
Image from The Art Journal The Industry of All Nations Illustrated Catalogue(London: Bradbury and Evans, 1851); http://etc.usf.edu/clipart/71600/71689/71689_ribbon_cup.htm