The Barnes & Noble Review
P. D. James's 13th mystery featuring Scotland Yard's Commander Adam Dalgliesh proves to be the master detective's most unlucky case to date; while investigating the homicide of a world-renowned author on a privately owned island of the Cornish coast, Dalgliesh is confronted with something even more terrifying than the brutal murder…
Combe Island, once a strategic base for slave-trading pirates, now serves as an inconspicuous refuge for some the most influential people in the world: a starkly beautiful place where scientists, politicians, diplomats, and other distinguished guests can relax in privacy and total security. But when Nathan Oliver, considered one of the world's greatest novelists, is found hanging from Combe Island's lighthouse, Dalgliesh -- known for his discretion and his ability to quickly solving sensitive cases -- is called to the island to get to the bottom of the heinous murder.
The case, however, is complicated from the very start, with personal issues involving Dalgliesh's depleted squad: Detective Inspector Kate Miskin and Sergeant Francis Benton-Smith must somehow work through their mutual antagonism, and Dalgliesh must make some life-altering decisions concerning Emma Lavenham, his part-time lover...
As thrilling and delightfully complicated as any Agatha Christie or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle mystery, James's The Lighthouse will keep readers hopelessly speculating about the identity of the killer until the very end. With a cast of diverse and brilliantly fleshed out island inhabitants/suspects, James's intricate and superbly structured plotlines (which include some absolute bombshells regarding Dalgliesh!) make The Lighthouse arguably the best Adam Dalgliesh mystery to date -- a murderous masterwork from the Queen of Crime. Paul Goat Allen
The Lighthouse is too rooted in genre conventions to count originality as its strong suit. But it has deviousness to burn, and it also offers other enticements. It's the kind of book that boasts a wryly humorous Scrabble scene, not to mention a Scrabble-lover's vocabulary: Ms. James makes ready use of words like abseil, belay, symphysis and meiosis. It's a book that serves up figurative red herring as well as melon balls in orange sauce. Not a menu goes unmentioned … it is a sturdy installment in a well-honed series, which is a concept that even its characters understand.
The New York Times
If-as some reviewers have speculated-The Lighthouse marks the end of James's 13-book mystery series about policeman/poet Adam Dalgliesh, at least in this artful and gripping audio version the commander is going out in style. Gifted veteran actor Keating rises above some familiar plot elements and obvious padding to create a convincing atmosphere set on an isolated private island where burnt-out leaders in the fields of business, politics and art go to rest and recuperate. Keating delineates James's many characters sharply and smoothly-from the top men in the police and foreign office who initiate the investigation through the three very different detectives who show up to probe the mysterious death of a noted and much-disliked novelist and find themselves in the middle of another murder. Dalgliesh is even calmer than usual, much of his mind still back in London with his new love interest. Insp. Kate Miskin is also preoccupied by the attentions of a former colleague, and Sgt. Francis Benton-Smith-his eye on the prize of promotion-sees Miskin as a hurdle in the road to success. Dedicated James fans should find this pleasant listening. Simultaneous release with the Knopf hardcover (Reviews, Oct. 17). (Nov.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Commander Adam Dalgliesh is faced with a sensitive seaside case that concerns a noted novelist found hanging from a lighthouse on exclusive Combe Island, a place owned by a trust to which high-powered people come to unwind. Dalgliesh and two colleagues, rather than local police, are brought in to investigate because Combe Island is to be the setting for an upcoming international summit meeting. Before the case is closed, Dalgliesh comes down with SARS and stories surface of three German soldiers killed there during WWII, as well as of the simultaneous probable murder of an island inhabitant. (10 Apr 2006)
A small group is staying at a manor house on a small Cornish island. One member is found dead, obviously murdered. The cast of characters includes a clergyman who has lost his faith, a doctor who has lost his professional self-confidence, diplomats, the murdered man's daughter, and her fianc . Scotland Yard commander Adam Dalgliesh and his team are called in to investigate. The dead man was brilliant, manipulative, and abusive, and the island's inhabitants are quirky. Inspector Kate Miskin takes over the investigation when Adam falls ill, but high fever or not, it is Adam who identifies the murderer. Like all of James's works, the book is well written and enjoyable, but there are many oddities, and too much time is devoted to flashbacks. Despite the extensive back stories, the characters seem flat, like figures being moved around a game board. The crime is solved by what appears to be divine inspiration, not the collection of evidence. Charles Keating gives a satisfactory reading, and despite its many flaws, The Lighthouse is a pleasant listening experience. Although far from James's best, this title should be in high demand. Recommended for all collections.-I. Pour-El, Des Moines Area Community Coll., Boone, IA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
The doyenne of British mystery celebrates her 85th birthday by packing off Adam Dalgliesh and two members of his Metropolitan Murder Squad to investigate the violent death of a famous novelist on a remote island off the Cornish coast. For 75 years, Combe Island has been administered by a charitable trust as a restorative refuge for distinguished citizens. Now its lighthouse seems destined for notoriety as the place where novelist Nathan Oliver was launched into eternity at the end of a rope. In the hope of keeping a lid on the unsavory publicity, Dalgliesh, DI Kate Miskin and Sgt. Francis Benton-Smith are dispatched from the City. They find the island's staff and its handful of other visitors, including Oliver's daughter Miranda and his copyeditor Dennis Tremlett, shocked but hardly grief-stricken. Well-hated Oliver's murder (or was it a suicide or a bizarre accident someone wanted to look like murder?) inevitably opens the doors to secrets long locked away. James doesn't stint on the old-fashioned complications of mechanics and motives. But her most telling details are the quietest-a police record, a lost vial of blood, a tag from Christopher Marlowe, a telltale cough-each of which will take its place in the resolution. Although the story is briefer than James's recent double-deckers (The Murder Room, 2003, etc.), readers will still revel in her matchless fullness of characterization. A stay on Combe Island really is tonic. First printing of 300,000
“With her trademark blend of subtle characterization, vivid sense of place and deceptively simple plot, James pulls off another triumph. A beautifully written page-turner from the queen of the genre.”
“An elegant and perceptive writer – rich drifts of prose pile up on the page, descriptive passages are Dickensian in length, ornament and power. . . James’s many fans will relish The Lighthouse, for all its poise and narrative familiarity.”
—The Globe and Mail
“James’s gifts animate and transform the armature into something exceptional. Her disciplined conventions, her observation of social and class niceties, renew the traditional Franco-British drama of domestic crime. She is a very superior writer of detection.”
—Times Literary Supplement
“James has proven that she deserves her reputation as our leading ‘literary’ crime writer. The Lighthouse confirms that she is also the most enjoyable.”
Praise for P.D. James:
"A first-rate writer without any qualifying genre tag."
"[James] ought never to be confused with such practitioners of the murder-in-the-vicarage genre as Agatha Christie. She is subtler, more sophisticated, much more adept at creating character and her social conservatism gives her a much darker view of human nature."
—Martin Levin, The Globe and Mail
"James’s novels are an escape like no other. . . . Masterful writing."
—The Vancouver Sun
"She writes like an angel. Every character is closely drawn. Her atmosphere is unerringly, chillingly convincing. And she manages all this without for a moment slowing down the drive and tension of an exciting mystery."
—The Times (UK)
"[James] suffuses The Murder Room with an intelligence and a perceptivity of human nature that seems casually placed. But that’s part of her genius. A grand design is there, but not readily apparent. Dalgliesh is one of the smartest, gentlest and most restrained cops to ever adorn a page. Moreover, every character, even minor characters, come across as fully realized.
—Winnipeg Free Press