A Taste for Death, by P.D. James

by Peter on May 12, 2010

Two bodies are A Taste for Death, by P.D. James discovered with their throats slashed in a London church. They lie in a welter of blood. One of the victims is a very prominent man: Sir Paul Berowne, former Minister of the Crown. The other victim, Harry Mack, is a tramp, a man accustomed to sleeping in the church vestibule.

Now Adam Dalgliesh and his detectives must find out why they were both killed like this. Was there a connection between the two men – unlikely as it may seem? Dalgliesh and his team, set up to investigate crimes of particular sensitivity, are faced with a case of extraordinary complexity as they discover the Berowne family’s veneer of prosperous gentility conceals ugly and dangerous secrets. It also seems the deaths may be tied to those of two young women who have recently been employed in the Berowne household.

A Taste for Death is gripping from start to finish. Dalgliesh is caught up in an investigation which has turned personal – he knew Berowne. There are many twists and turns in this complex investigation, as the detectives try to unravel the clues and evidence to point them to a ruthless and sadistic killer. And there are, of course, lots of clues that will lead you astray as well, but ultimately it comes down to one ruthless murderer.

This is a wonderful, complex mystery with a very good plot. It is also, in my opinion, the best book P. D. James had so far written. It has excellent characters, is very rich on the descriptive side and builds the story with great care, and the narrative is simply excellent. It is also very interesting in the way it develops the character of Adam Dalgliesh, and makes him an ever more credible protagonist. The ending of A Taste for Death is both poignant and surprising. If you haven’t read this one yet, so grab it and get going!

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