PD James has never been afraid of exposing her characters’ weaknesses and flaws. The Black Tower finds Inspector Dalgliesh recovering from a life-threatening illness and making the decision to leave the police force. Before he tenders his resignation, Dalgliesh decides to visit his old friend, Father Michael, for a period of convalescence. However, when he arrives at Toynton Grange, Father Michael’s home for young, disabled people, he finds the priest and one of the patients have died in mysterious circumstances.
This audiobook, read by Michael Jayston, is one of PD James’ most introspective works. While he wrestles with the complexities of the case, Dalgliesh is newly-aware of his own mortality – a realisation that informs his approach to the mystery. But death is stalking the nursing home and the bodies are piling up, putting the pressure to get the case solved, quickly. However, unlike others in the Dalgliesh series, this audiobook is not a fast-paced action-thriller. Rather, the atmosphere is stained with a continual trickle of melancholy, perfectly reflecting the lead character’s mood.
In Jayston’s hands, The Black Tower, also available as an audiobook for MP3, makes engrossing listening. Fans of the Dalgliesh will be excited to get a further glimpse into the character’s psyche, while newbies will be able to enjoy it as a stand-alone story.