Cheverell Manor is a lovely old house in deepest Dorset, now a private clinic belonging to the famous plastic surgeon George Chandler-Powell. When investigative journalist Rhoda Gradwyn arrived there one late autumn afternoon, scheduled to have a disfiguring and long-standing facial scar removed, she had every expectation of a successful operation and a pleasant week recuperating.
Two days later she was dead, the victim of murder.
To Commander Adam Dalgliesh, who with his team is called in to investigate the case, the mystery at first seems absolute. Few things about it make sense. Yet as the detectives begin probing the lives and backgrounds of those connected with the dead woman-the surgeon, members of the manor staff, close acquaintances-suspects multiply all too rapidly. New confusions arise, including strange historical overtones of madness and a lynching 350 years in the past. Then there is a second murder, and Dalgliesh finds himself confronted by issues even more challenging than innocence or guilt.
A new P.D. James novel feels as if a complex and lovely gift has been bestowed upon the reader. With this 14th novel featuring Adam Dalgliesh, there is a definite sense of closure. Investigative journalist Rhoda Gradwyn arrives at the beautiful Cheverell Manor in Dorset, owned by famous plastic surgeon George Chandler-Powell, to undergo a relatively routine surgical procedure to remove a facial scar and enjoy a private week of recovery. The next day, after a successful surgery, Rhoda is murdered in her room. Commander Dalgliesh and his usual team, Det. Inspector Kate Miskin and Sgt. Francis Benton-Smith, are summoned. As with any James novel, the manor's inhabitants are an insular, odd group requiring Dalgliesh to unravel a tangled mix of motivations in order to flush out the murderer. The end result is satisfying, if not bittersweet, for both Dalgliesh and the reader. Library Journal
PD James is the queen of crime fiction and the author of numerous bestsellers including A Taste for Death, Original Sin, A Certain Justice, Death in Holy Orders, The Murder Room and The Lighthouse. She lives in London.