I quite enjoyed the previous P.D. James murder mystery I’ve crossed paths with, but I didn’t have as much success with this last entry featuring Commander Adam Dalgliesh. Though seeing that it’s the 14th novel in the series, it’s not enough for me to cool down on them altogether. After all, a series this long-running is bound to produce some duds.
I finished this book in a couple of days while recovering from a nasty cold. This was in fact the first P.D. James novel I’ve read in my life – despite their enormous popularity they just never fell in my lap before, even though I quite like the crime genre. As the title suggests, this one is set in an Anglican theological college on the Suffolk coast, where a young, rather unpopular ordinand is found dead under a collapsed mound of sand (first time I’ve seen this method of death in a book, so full points for originality). His death is dismissed as an accident, until his father receives an anonymous note hinting at foul play, and being the kind of powerful man who is accustomed to getting his way, he insists that Adam Dalgliesh of Scotland Yard takes over the investigation. For Dalgliesh, it’s a chance to return to the place of many fond memories he’d visited as a boy. More bodies start to pile up even before he arrives, when the elderly woman who discovered the boy’s remains is murdered and her death passed off as natural – you pretty much know she’s doomed when she remembers something described as important and tells someone about it.