The Private Patient
Faber & Faber(November 2008)
When the notorious investigative journalist Rhoda Gradwyn booked into Mr Chandler-Powell’s private clinic in Dorset for the removal of a disfiguring and long-standing facial scar, she was expecting a successful operation by a distinguished surgeon, a week’s peaceful convalescence in one of Dorset’s most beautiful manor houses, and the beginning of a new life. She was never to leave Cheverell Manor alive. Dalgliesh and his team are called in to investigate the murder and later a second death, which together raise more complicated problems than the question of innocence or guilt.
A new detective novel by P.D. James is always keenly awaited and THE PRIVATE PATIENT will undoubtedly equal the success of her worldwide bestseller, THE LIGHTHOUSE. It displays the qualities which P.D. James’s readers have come to expect: a masterly psychological and emotional richness of characterisation, a vivid evocation of place and a credible and exciting mystery. THE PRIVATE PATIENT is a powerful work of contemporary fiction.
'With her new book THE PRIVATE PATIENT, published last week, P.D. James brings to 16 her oeuvre of crime novels. All but two feature her ageless poet detective Commander Adam Dalgliesh. In the 46 years since Dalgliesh first appeared in print, he has solved murders by penetrating the complexities of human psychology, and illuminated enduring ethical dilemmas.
'The work of Baroness James of Holland Park has elevated English detective fiction far beyond the diverting puzzles typical of the genre novelists of an earlier generation. In SHROUD FOR A NIGHTINGALE (1971), for example, the real murderer commits suicide after persuading a weaker person to kill. In ORIGINAL SIN (1994), the murderer is driven by righteous zeal born of a tragic past. When Dalgliesh has identified the murderer, there remains a sense of the disruptiveness and waste of crime. There is no chocolate-box village that returns to its quaint ways; there is, rather, an indelible stain of sin.
'In negotiating his way through the pathways of human destructiveness, Dalgliesh is also a guide to our times. Lady James is a perceptive chronicler of the changing landscape of London; the flux of urban development and the housing market; the corrosive culture of sink estates; the ruthless politics of the professions; and even the use of the internet for hedonistic purposes.
'Lady James's other novels include a psychological thriller, INNOCENT BLOOD, and a fine dystopian fantasy, CHILDREN OF MEN. But it is her literally forensic insight into crime that remains her most distinctive fictional device. Like Wilkie Collins and Edgar Allan Poe, she has looked at the darkness of the human psyche, and created from it not just entertainment but literature.' – The Times
'[P.D. James] is the most literary of crime writers - men and women - and the one of whom it is most often asked: "Why has she never been listed for the Booker?”. [She] appears to have lost none of her acuity, subtlety and inventiveness… Adam Dalgliesh has been one of crime fiction's most interesting and original creations… one of the great police detectives in the history of crime fiction.' – The Times
'Elegantly phrased, plot-driven, multi-layered and laced with menace' -- Observer
'The characterisation, the accretion of detail, the overarching humanity is as impressive as ever… As Dalgleish heads altar-wards with his fiancée, Emma, James fashions an ending which, in its emotional complexity, completely transcends the bog-standard denouement of a whodunit. It is beautifully done.' -- The Telegraph
'James's great achievement has been to write the sort of novel that Chandler aimed at – a novel of character and atmosphere with an overtone of violence and fear. She is as interested in the innocents who are caught up in the wake of a murder, and often besmirched by it, as she is in the process of detection. She knows that the dead are not the only victims. She knows, too, that those charged with the duty of detection are themselves bruised and wounded by the work they have to do. She is essentially a humane writer… As usual, the setting is described in vivid detail; all the characters are convincing, the atmosphere skilfully evoked… THE PRIVATE PATIENT is classic James.' – The Scotsman
'Proceeds with aplomb and panache. The intricately drawn plot unfolds in clear, stylish prose against a London of mullioned windows and a Dorset of standing stones and laurel bushes… With considerable poise, James manages to elevate her book out of the genre gutter, and adds strength to the claim that writing prefaced by a tag, whether crime, fantasy or science fiction, can still claim to be literature… a trumpet call for the literary validity of detective fiction.' – The New Statesman
'There’s no substitute for being able to lose ourselves once again in the world of P.D. James' – Evening Standard
'A new detective novel by P.D. James is always keenly awaited and THE PRIVATE PATIENT will undoubtedly equal the success of her worldwide bestseller The Lighthouse' -- Living North
'Complex but never losing its tension, THE PRIVATE PATIENT is a remarkable achievement' -- Country Life
'THE PRIVATE PATIENT abounds in toxic families and their lingering traumas, but it’s also a novel rich in love.' -- Boyd Tonkin, Independent
'All her strengths are in evidence – evocation of place, mood and depth of characterization. …Britain’s greatest living practitioner of the traditional crime novel' -- Sunday Mercury, Birmingham
'Once again James proves to be a mistress of suspense' -- Tatler
'This is a book about the way we live now… James brings a stinging clarity to the complicated goings-on in the Dorset countryside' -- Sunday Times
Foreign rights have been sold in Turkey, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Spain, China, Bulgaria, Germany, Norway, Russia, France, Italy, Denmark (including audio), Greece, the Netherlands, Israel, Brazil, Portugal, Finland, Croatia and Japan.