P.D. James, Jill Patton Walsh/Dorothy Sayers

While I’ve been sick, I read P.D. James’ newest book, The Private Patient.  I enjoyed it so much, I went back and reread The Murder Room and The Lighthouse.  James is one of the few mystery novelists I read with a dictionary near by. 

James generally sets her novels in limited community situations – a small museum, on an island, in a country house/clinic and we get to know the residents intimately.  Her descriptions of the interactions between the residents, the police and the physical setting of the story build the narrative puzzle.  When I’m reading, I jump in my mind from one guilty party to the next and don’t settle on anyone in particular until near the very end. 

I also reread the two Lord Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane novels by Jill Patton Walsh.  As I did the first time I read it, I found Thrones, Dominations a fascinating portrait of two very different marriages.  It also provides a glimpse into what happened to Peter and Harriet after Busman’s Honeymoon.  A Presumption of Death is not as strongly plotted (maybe because Patton Walsh rather than Sayers outlined the story), but I love the descriptions of life in wartime England.

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