Set in a nurses’ training college, Shroud for a Nightingale is one of PD James most atmospheric novels. When student nurse, Heather Pearce, is poisoned during a tube-feeding demonstration, it is initially interpreted as a spectacular suicide. However, when another student and an instructor also die in grisly circumstances, it’s time for Inspector Dalgliesh to make his own diagnosis.
Shroud for a Nightingale is a multi-layered mystery, probing the themes of mortality and independence. Dalgliesh approaches the case with his usual dogged detachment, but we see just how the death of his wife and infant son has affected him. The Inspector’s problem is that he identifies all-to readily with the problems of the people he investigates, making the process emotionally draining for him. And despite his awareness of the greater issues at play in everyone’s lives, he refuses to take a stand on them, acting as conduit for the author’s questions and observations.
Michael Jayston inhabits the role with aplomb. His understated delivery perfectly captures the air of melancholy that pervades this audiobook for CD or MP3 and allows us to see the divide between how Dalgliesh thinks and how he acts. This audiobook for MP3 is one of James’ most philosophical works, but balances plot and theme with impressive dexterity.