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    Review of MURDER ROOM by P. D. James


    Alfred A. Knopf, 2003

    Police Commander Adam Dalgliesh visits a small museum whose major point of interest is a 'murder room' showing evidence from notorious murders that took place between the world wars. The Dupayne Museum, though, is in crisis. Unless the three trustees agree to renew the lease, the museum must be closed. And one of the three seems intent on refusing to go on. When Dalgliesh returns to the museum, it isn't because of the exibits. Instead, life seems to be imitating history and a new murder has duplicated one of those long-gone ones.

    Author P. D. James delves into her characters, giving us the details on the psychology and family history that led them to hold their current views and their current fears. Her descriptions of Tally Clutton, in particular, are fascinating and a joy to read.

    James's style makes MURDER ROOM a compelling read, but the story itself seems somewhat bloodless. James attempts to give Dalgliesh an emotional impact through a romantic involvement that is regularly complicated by the demands of his police work. But for me, Dalgliesh's 'love' seems uncompelling. Of the other police, Detective-Inspector Kate Miskin gets the most attention but she seems emotionally uninvolved with the case or with her life.

    If you're a fan of P. D. James's writing, you'll find MURDER ROOM to be a satisfying treat. Although I found the plot and characters to be somewhat light, the writing carries the reader forward and gives us an understanding of an England that P. D. James knows and, I think, loves.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 12/22/03

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