PD James flexes her formidable writing muscles once more in this, the 14th Dalgliesh mystery. The Inspector finds himself investigating the death of Rhoda Gradwyn, a patient of cosmetic-surgery, discovering the body of a claustrophobic in a freezer and unearthing the past to see just how the burning of a 17th Century witch ties them all together. Just another day for our sardonic sleuth, in this gripping BBC Drama.
The Private Patient is classic James, exploring the themes of innocence of guilt in her usual, insightful style. The cast of suspects paint a landscape of social divide and it is left to Dalgliesh to tease their testimonies from them, which he does with his trademark skill and apparent detachment. However, life for Dalgliesh is never what it seems; beneath his professional exterior, he is knot of insecurities, struggling to solve his own problems in the midst of uncovering a murderer.
Richard Derrington imbues Dalgliesh with just the right amount of introspection, while Deborah McAndrew’s Miskin is the perfect foil, throwing her superior officer’s old-fashioned approach into relief with her modern values. For fans of the poetic Inspector, this audiobook is a brilliant development of all the familiar faces and, for those just starting out in Dalgliesh’s world, a solid introduction to one of crime fiction’s most enduring characters.