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Publisher's Summary

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.

Commander Adam Dalgliesh is called in to solve the mystery quickly and discreetly, but at a difficult time for him and his depleted team. Dalgliesh is uncertain about his future with Emma Lavenham, the woman he loves; Detective Inspector Kate Miskin has her own emotional problems; and the ambitious Sergeant Francis Benton-Smith is worried about working under Kate. Hardly has the team begun to unravel the complicated motives of the suspects than there is a second brutal killing, and the whole investigation is jeopardized when Dalgliesh is faced with a danger more insidious and as potentially fatal as murder.

This eagerly awaited successor to the international best seller The Murder Room displays all the qualities that lovers of P.D. James's novels the world over have come to expect: sensitive characterization, an exciting and superbly structured plot, and vivid evocation of place.

©2005 P.D. James (P)2005 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Each new Dalgleish novel should be treated as a gift by mystery fans everywhere." (Booklist)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
  • jb
  • Boston, MA
  • 11-23-05


P.D. James is the finest of all current mystery writers! And this continuation of the Adam Dagliesh mysteries does not disappoint. The story is brilliantly written, the action is fast-paced and riveting, the words on the page so eloquent and beautiful you will want to listen again and again. A mystery novel that reads like literature. Simply wonderful.

79 of 81 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Rod
  • Riverside, CA, United States
  • 01-16-06

Another solid effort

There are few authors that describe a scene like James. You can almost taste the salt spray and smell the ocean breeze. I enjoyed the plot and especially the characters. While I don't find it to be "edge of the seat" it drew me in and held me to the end. Also, I love Charles Keating as the reader, especially over the other gentlemen who is on other James titles. Defintely a solid 4+.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Patt
  • Edmonds, WA, USA
  • 03-03-07

A bit long, but

P.D. James has one of the most beautiful prose styles of any mystery writer I have read. Her descriptions of people, landscapes and situations always amaze me. Her psychological profiles offer to explain the deep, dark purposes of cold-hearted murderers. I really had a difficult time determining who actually did the nasty deed. But as beautiful as her writing is, the book seemed to drag on just a bit too long.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Excellent listen!

PD James is a master writer! This book is full of well flesh-out characters behaving in believable ways in an excellent whodunit. The story will stand alone, but fans of the Adam Dalgleish stories will enjoy this adventure of the Scotland Yard inspector. James' complex characters add even more layers and nuances and we come to know AD and his team even better in "The Lighthouse." Danger, adventure, great characters, terrific writing-- who could ask for more?

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

P. D. James. At her best. So good that you would in court swear you were there

Interesting and informative adding to one's store of knowledge of area and era, while at the same time giving nothing away until a reasonable, always surprising, yet satisfactory end end.

Narration is excellent Absolutely the best

More, please....many more

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

PD James is always a good read; narrator is superb

While this novel by PD James did not stand out to me as something very different from the rest of her novels, I nevertheless really enjoyed listening to it. Ms, James's vocabulary and knowledge about history, geography, etc. is always compelling. She writes concisely and so very well.
Charles Keating was a marvelous narrator. If you like British narrators reading mysteries, this one is for you!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


PD James keeps getting better and better. Her Adam Dalgliesh mysteries are highly atmospheric and the characters are very dimensional. She is a master at psychological thrillers.

This story is set on a remote island off the English coast--Coombe Island. What follows is a classic, closed setting British detective thriller.

A Must Listen if you are a fan of the genre.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Enjoyable but Flawed

I have enjoyed many of PD James' books, but found this one a bit disappointing. The plot was good and kept me going, but the conclusion was abrupt, and it was hard to believe that all the pieces came together in a single moment of inspiration. It was almost like James said to herself, "ok it's time to end the book, here is the conclusion, now let's move on".

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Paul
  • Edison, NJ, USA
  • 01-15-06

I've read a lot better

This book felt like it dragged on, but every now and then something would happen and I would keep it going. I almost gave up on it a few times, and I wouldn't have missed much. Keating is a good narrator but not a good reader. I often found myself confused and wondering which character was talking, since all of the voices sounded exactly the same. Also, after wading through meaningless details about things like what a particular room looked like, the main character (as another review pointed out) figures the entire thing out all at once.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Sarah
  • BOERNE, TX, United States
  • 04-05-17

Great writing, great story, great narration!

I read this in print when it was first published and enjoyed it. The audio book is another dimension better. This is one of the best British detective series - I hope there will be more books to come.

The facts of the case are totally baffling, but Dalgliesh has a realization while suffering from a fever that helps him solve the case. Some have thought this was a little too easy given the difficulty of the case, but in light of Dalgliesh's superior intellect and insight I thought it was plausible.

Many well developed characters and relationships contribute to the fascinating plot. You really need to pay attention when listening to this one - good for walking or a long drive without much traffic.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful