The Private Patient by P.D. James
As I began reading this book, I knew that it was to be P.D. James’ last Adam Dalgliesh mystery. I wondered if she would kill him off, and half expected it would happen. I’ll spoil the story for everyone—stop reading right now: spoiler alert!—by telling you Adam survives. Heck, he even gets married. (Big quarrel here with the author. I really find his romance with Emma to be contrived and unrealistic. I wonder: could the author be so in love with her detective that she cannot give him a realistic love affair? Oh, that’s mean of me to say… but there it is.) So the mystery here—which is solid as I’ve come to expect in a P.D. James novel—is well-wrought and puzzling and peopled with likely suspects. In the mystery department, James remains at the top of her game. Thank goodness for that. We know from the start that Rhoda Gradwyn , an investigative reporter who decides to have plastic surgery to repair an injury she suffered at the hand of her abusive father many years earlier, will die. Intriguingly, James brings us close to the victim only when the detectives visit her flat—so even though we’ve gotten to know her somewhat earlier, but only really get a sense of who she was as a person, when we see her through the detectives’ eyes. Kate Miskin features prominently here, as she has in the most recent Dalgliesh mysteries, and I have to say: I like her. So here we say goodbye to Commander Adam Dalgliesh and his team. Baroness James has made them just real enough that I’m feeling like I miss them already.