The Lighthouse, by PD James

>> Tuesday, August 04, 2009

TITLE: The Lighthouse
AUTHOR: PD James

COPYRIGHT: 2005
PAGES: 467
PUBLISHER: Penguin

SETTING: Contemporary England
TYPE: Mystery
SERIES: Part of the Adam Dalgliesh series

REASON FOR READING: I always end up reading James' books, sooner or later.

Combe Island off the Cornish coast has a bloodstained history of piracy and cruelty but now, privately owned, it offers respite to over-stressed men and women in positions of high authority who require privacy and guaranteed security. But the peace of Combe is violated when one of the distinguished visitors is bizarrely murdered.


PD James' The Lighthouse is set in remote Combe Island, where VIPs go to relax. A famous novelist who was staying there is found murdered, and Dalgliesh and his team are sent to investigate. It's an important case, but it comes at a very bad time for him, a crucial moment in his developing relationship with his girlfriend.

I really enjoyed the mystery. It was an interesting, intriguing one, in a setting that really added to the story, a kind of country house mystery with a twist. There's a theme here I've read in James' books before, and it's that of a murder victim who was threatening the statu quo, and whom everyone disliked. I liked the detail of the investigation, and that the people involved were really interesting. James' vivid character studies are the reason why I keep reading her, in spite of my dislike for her detective.

Yep, Dalgliesh still rubs me wrong. I couldn't care less about his personal life and his relationship with his Emma, who seems as annoying as he does. I've no idea why I've developed such an antipathy for the sanctimonious, judgemental bore.... eh, there you go. I do like the rest of his team, though. Kate and Benton-Smith are a lot more interesting and easy to like. The latter, especially, is becoming more and more developed, and more and more intriguing as the series progresses.

The one disappointment was that I was really excited to see at one point (for reasons that would be spoilerish), that Kate ended up with the responsibility of solving the case. But no, even in diminished circumstances, Dalgliesh had to be the one to hit on the solution. Clearly, there was no way Kate could have been as perspicacious and smart as the great man. Hmph! What on earth was the point of it all, then? I suppose progress in Dalgliesh and Emma's relationship, but given how I feel about that, it just didn't work for me.

MY GRADE: A B.

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