I do not think that there can ever be enough books about anything and I say that knowing that some of them are going to be about Pilates.The more knowledge the better seems like a solid rule of thumb, even though I have watched enough science fiction films to accept that humanity’s unchecked pursuit of learning will end with robots taking over the world.-Sarah Vowell

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Black Tower by P.D. James

It's been almost ten years since the last Adam Dalgliesh mystery was written and we find that he got married and lost his wife and baby during childbirth.  Now he's in the hospital with a diagnosis of leukemia and he has gotten all his affairs in order and settled himself to his death, when the doctor says sorry, but you only had a bad case of mono.  Now he doesn't really want to go back to being a detective and plans to retire.

While at the hospital he receives a letter from an old family friend, Father Baddeley who is asking for his help.   He is staying at a disability commune/hospital and so, when he is able to travel, Dalgliesh sets out to visit him at Troydon Manor, which is run by the very odd, slightly mean warden, Wilfred Anstey, who claims to have had D.S. and went to Lourdes and bathed there and came back healed.

Says those of Troyden "There were a hundred better places for convalescence than this claustrophobic, self-regarding community dedicated to love and self-fulfillment through suffering, where people sent each other poison pen letters, played at childish and malicious pranks or got tired of waiting for death and hurled themselves into annihilation."

When he arrives, he learns that one of the patients "accidently" rolled off a cliff on to the rocks below and that his friend Father Baddeley died of a heart attack.  Dalgliesh wants nothing to do with the place or its people, and frankly, you won't either.  Soon, people start dropping like flies, but the police still don't suspect murder and Dalgliesh don't feel like trying to solve the mystery.  However, the people that die are likable people and you want justice for them and for someone, anyone, to wake up and yell "murder!"

At the end, Dalgliesh has a sudden lightning bolt of insight that comes from god knows where since he hasn't been paying much attention to anything the entire book, so caught up in his grief he is, and figures out who the killer is and soon finds himself in a sticky situation hat has the book picking up speed and interest as you wonder how he gets out of this one, because ten years later James writes another Dalgliesh mystery,

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