Motive. P.D. James’ latest Adam Dalgliesh novel is titled, The Private Patient. In this finely written mystery, James presents readers with dozens of ways to think about motives, and ponder the question of whether or not we can ever understand another’s motive. Investigative journalist Rhoda Gradwyn decides to have an unsightly scar removed from her face after decades of living with it. Why now? She chooses a private clinic in Dorset, that’s part of an old manor house. Why there? She’s murdered, and Dalgliesh is called in to solve the case. His questions remain after he knows who did it. Completion without understanding feels like unfinished business to A.D. At the same time, feeling that one knows “the truth” is arrogant and impertinent. We may gain some understanding and insight, but do we ever understand motive? I enjoyed this book from beginning to end, and well after I figured out whodunit, I enjoyed the process by which James led me to keep thinking.
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