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When the body of a theology student is found on a desolate stretch of coast in East Anglia, his wealthy father demands that Scotland Yard should re-examine the verdict of accidental death. Commander Adam Dalgliesh agrees to pay a visit to the young man's theological college, St Anselm's, a place he knew as a boy, expecting no more than a nostalgic return to old haunts and a straightforward examination of the evidence. Instead he finds himself embroiled in intrigue, secrets and mystery as the college is torn apart by a sacrilegious and horrifying murder . . .
Award-winning P.D. James (author of Death Comes to Pemberley and Children of Men) masterfully explores an isolated and beleaguered community coping with the evil and disruption of murder. In 2003, this novel was adapted for BBC television and starred Martin Shaw, Hugh Fraser and Robert Hardy.
Set on the wild coast of East Anglia, this number one bestseller is the fourteenth Adam Dalgliesh novel and a thrilling work of crime fiction possessing all of the qualities which distinguish P. D. James as a novelist.
Baroness James may have turned 80, but neither she nor her dogged Scotland Yard detective Commander Adam Dalgliesh (last seen in 1997's A Certain Justice) shows any sign of flagging in this superb whodunit, with its extraordinarily complex and nuanced plot and large cast of credible characters. When the body of a young ordinand, Ronald Treeves, turns up buried in a sandy bank on the Suffolk coast near isolated St. Anselm's, a High Anglican theological college, it's unclear whether his death was an accident, suicide or murder. The mystery deepens a few days later when someone suffocates Margaret Munroe, a retired nurse with a bad heart, because she remembers an event 12 years earlier that could have some bearing on whatever's amiss at St. Anselm's. Enter Dalgliesh at the behest of Ronald's father, Sir Alred, who's received an anonymous note suggesting foul play in his son's death. It isn't long before another death occurs, and this time it's clearly murder: late one night in the chapel, somebody bashes in the head of Archdeacon Crampton, a hard-nosed outsider who wanted to close St. Anselm's. Dalgliesh and his investigative team examine the complicated motives of a host of suspects resident at the college, mostly ordinands and priests, slowly unveiling the connections among the various deaths. Illegitimacy, incest, a secret marriage, a missing cloak and a valuable altar triptych are just some of the ingredients in a case as contrived as any Golden Age classic but presented with such masterful ease and conviction that even the most skeptical readers will suspend disbelief. This is a natural for PBS Mystery adaptation.