Book review: The Lighthouse

PD JamesOver the years, the character of Commander Adam Dalgliesh has become a real person. Helped by the TV series of PD James detective novels, whenever I read a Dalgliesh book I see the face of actor Roy Marsden. The Lighthouse, the 13th in the series of 14, is perhaps her best. There is no doubt that as the series progressed, the writing acquired depths earning it the label ‘literary fiction’. A lot of the action is in the mind, intellectual detection. The Lighthouse is a long way from Cover Her Face.

This is another closed room mystery. The room is an island off the North Cornish coast, a secure, secluded get-away-from-it-all holiday destination for politicians, celebrities and entrepreneurs. Dalgliesh, with his team Kate Miskin and Francis Benton-Smith, become residents on the island with its small number of suspects. Dead, is a famous writer, Nathan Oliver, found hanging by a rope from the railings of the lighthouse. Nothing, from this point, is as it seems. All the island’s guests, residents and staff could have a motive. Oliver was not generally liked. But you can rely on James to unwind a story which brings unexpected depths, difficulties and an unpredictable motive for murder. Many of the suspects are unlikeable, but unpleasant people are not necessarily capable of killing someone. Set against the island location, its isolation, mists, tides and birds, are the peculiarities of the residents and their reason for being on the island. Is that where the answer lies?

Quarantined on the island because of infectious illness, a second murder ups the stakes. Tangled throughout the detection are the relationships between Kate and Benton, Dalgliesh and girlfriend Emma, and the detail and politics of policing.

Read my reviews of the previous 12 Dalgliesh mysteries:-
Cover Her Face #1
A Mind to Murder #2
Unnatural Causes #3
Shroud for a Nightingale #4
The Black Tower #5
Death of an Expert Witness #6
A Taste for Death #7
Devices and Desires #8
Original Sin #9
A Certain Justice #10
Death in Holy Orders #11
The Murder Room #12

If you like crime fiction, try these:-
‘The Blood Detective’ by Dan Waddell
‘Jellyfish’ by Lev D Lewis
‘The Silent Twin’ by Caroline Mitchell

‘The Lighthouse’ by PD James, #13 Adam Dalgliesh [UK: Faber] Buy here

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE LIGHTHOUSE by PD James #bookreview via @SandraDanby

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