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The Murder Room
By P. D. James

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The Murder Room

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The Murder Room
An Adam Dalgliesh Mystery
By P. D. James
Random House Large Print, (2003)
ISBN: 0-375-43223-X
Genre: Mystery

Reviewed by Auggie Moore - January 7, 2004

Commander Adam Dalgliesh of New Scotland Yard is once again on the trail of a killer in P. D. James' The Murder Room. However, unlike James' previous Dalgliesh mysteries, this time the indomitable detective has an added complication in his life, one that may actually interfere in his investigation. The complication is a woman named Emma Lavenham, who just might be the one woman capable of turning a confirmed bachelor into a loving husband - or not!

This mystery centers upon The Dupayne, a small private museum that is dedicated to chronicling the uneasy period between World War I and World War II that saw so many cultural and political changes in England. The museum is the brainchild of Max Dupayne, and it is currently at the center of a heated debate between the Dupayne children as to whether or not the museum should be closed. His three children serve as the museum's trustees. When Neville Dupayne, who is one of the trustees, is found murdered, Dalgliesh is called in to find the killer. This is a task that becomes even more urgent, when the killer strikes again.

The Murder Room is as much a murder mystery as it is a psychological thriller. James delves deeply into the mind set and personalities of her characters, as well as the effects that their actions have on those around them. The plot of this story is 'dark' almost in the sense of the Victorian Gothic novels. Neville's murder is carried out so as to mimic an older murder from the inter-war period that is detailed in one of the museum's displays exhibited in the aptly named, 'murder room'. In the macabre 'murder room' visitors are presented with a variety of displays depicting a number of sensational murders that occurred between and 1919-1938. For a copycat killer, the room offers a wealth of possible scenarios to duplicate...

The Murder Room is a richly detailed and well-plotted novel that is suspenseful and satisfying. James' keeps you wondering throughout the story about just who the killer is, and if there is something more sinister involved in the murders than just an argument over whether or not a museum should be closed. James' narrative is artistic and engrossing, and her depiction of New Scotland Yard and its methodology is realistic and detailed. This is an elegant and somewhat eccentric novel that will keep you in suspense from beginning to end.


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