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The Lighthouse - P D James

The Lighthouse

ClanBrandon Books
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P D James

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Pages: 480 (Paperback)

ISBN: 0141025107

Pub: Penguin

Pub date: 2006-09-07 Sales Rank: 23786

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Reader Reviews:

1/5 stars

Contrived and badly written (0/0 people found this helpful)

On the evidence of this book I would say that P D James is well past her sell-by date, and her detective, Adam Dalgleish, needs to pensioned off.

The setting for the book is Combe Island, an isolated island off the south coast of England which is uesd as a retreat by high powered people. Into this contrived setting James deposits a variety of stock characters, provides us with a murder and then sends in AD and his team. The contrivances are such that Dalgleish cannot have any scene of crime and forensic support.

The murder itself, or rather the finding of the body, is badly described, and in fact the standard of the writing throughout is poor. James has never been very good with dialogue, and she puts some clunky old sentences into the mouths of her characters. One of the characters is an aging novelist who fears he is losing his talent; Baroness James appears to be in the same boat. Even the apprehension of the murderer lacks excitement.

I would not recommend this book and if I had not been on holiday I doubt that I would have bothered to finish it.

1/5 stars

Tired and contrived (1/1 people found this helpful)

I love PD James and I suppose everyone is entitled to an off day. I guess that she collects ideas as they occur and uses some. I gues that sometimes her publisher pushes her for a new book and sometimes no ideas are there. So, out comes the ideas book and sadly a lot of poor ideas are thrown together. That's what I suspect happened. In a totally contrived location, as likely as a moon station off the Isle of Wight the three detectives sleuth about and eventually solve the crime not through clues that we've all been part of their discovery but by a fever induced vision. Ms James - we expect better of you and luckily knopw that you will in future deliver.

3/5 stars

Murder on an offshore island (0/0 people found this helpful)

Is there a writer who has pursued their craft with greater longevity than Phyllis James? It is extraordinary to think that she has diligently produced carefully structured whodunits for five decades, and The Lighthouse bears the familiar hallmarks that established her as the pre-eminent British crime writer of our time. In the Lighthouse, her poet-detective Adam Dalgliesh is sent to investigate a suspicious death on a offshore island. A murder in a closed community, an island with a sinister history, and a limited number of suspects, most of whom are revealed to have an opportunity and a motive. What raises James's books above the typical whodunit is her ability to depict the disappointments and passions of everyday people, at once ordinary and tragic, as she nimbly changes perspective between suspects. By my estimate, Dalgliesh must be ten years past retirement age. He is still struggling to resolve his love life, but James's writing continues to delight.

3/5 stars

Not for those who like realism in their crime (0/0 people found this helpful)

The Lighthouse, by PD James isn't a book that those who want realism in their crime stories will like.

It's set on an island off the British coast that the "well to do" use as a retreat from their stressful (but "terribly correct") lives. When a prize winning author is found hanging in the lighthouse on the island, the police, in the shape of Adam Dalgliesh and his merry band of men, are called in to solve the case.

I've read worse books. I've read worse crime books in fact, but this one didn't grab me. I come from a fairly well to do background, but I didn't recognise the people in this book. They're all about "correctness," "show," and how they present themselves to the world, and after a while this really starts to get on my wick. It shouldn't but it did.

My irritation over the suspects wasn't helped by the fact that Dalgliesh (a senior officer) is too sensitive by half. I've never particularly fond the idea of a poetry writing detective, but the more I read of him, the more I just want to yell "Get over yourself and get on with the crime bit of the story."

My other criticism is that it takes a long time for anything to happen. We're told early that something's coming but it took almost 200 pages (of 466) to get there, and I'm sorry, but I found that beyond irritating.

4/5 stars

P.D. James' latest as a first timer (0/0 people found this helpful)

I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that I liked this book. I struggle to come out of my comfort murder mystery zone of Agatha Christie, Conan Doyle, and 20s and 30s classics - I haven't often gone past the 10th page of a contemporary detective story.

I picked this cheap - second hand - and realised I was starting from the latest; I thought if I liked this I'd probably like the older ones...

I found it a little hard to get into the characters at first - I thought that the opening individual introduction of Dalgliesh and his team was awkward, slow, and did not enlighten the rest of the book. However, as the story evolves you slowly get sympathetic with them and with each character on the island.
On the one hand it is a very stereotyped close-nit community whoddunit, with long stretches that could be set at any time in history, which gives it a classic feel. The subtle reminder of the belly piercing or the helicopter flying in suddenly keeps bringing you back to modern times. On the other hand, it is humanly more complex than the older classics that I usually read and, naturally, much more modern, but without this overwhelmingly shadowing the classic construction of the plot and characterisation.

The secretive island setting is witty and wonderful, and gives it the chance of balancing modern and classic elements; the plot keeps flowing and is intriguing. I wasn't always thrilled - in a sense I felt it didn't go too deep into matters, whether human or murderous - but I did find it hard to put the book down as it kept me guessing.
What worked for me was the balance of forensics, plausible reasoning, modern attitudes and thoughts, centuries-old human feelings, and the classic use of 'grey cells'.

I quite like this paperback edition, it's big and thick, it feels nice in your hands, and it's large print. I just wish they didn't make the author's name way bigger than the title; I understand she is a best-selling author, but I find a little annoying and, coincidentally, it reminds of the victim's ego.

I will definitely read more P.D. James.

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Categories places this book into the following categories:

Books -> Special Features -> Custom Stores -> Fiction Complete -> Crime, Thrillers & Mystery -> Mystery
Books -> Subjects -> Crime, Thrillers & Mystery -> Mystery -> General AAS
Books -> Subjects -> Crime, Thrillers & Mystery -> Thrillers
Books -> Refinements -> Language (feature_browse-bin) -> English
Books -> Refinements -> Format (binding_browse-bin) -> Paperback
Books -> Refinements -> Font Size (format_browse-bin) -> Regular Size
Products -> All product
Products -> Books


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