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Death in Holy Orders

Narrated by: Daniel Weyman
Series: Adam Dalgliesh, Book 11
Length: 13 hrs and 52 mins
5 out of 5 stars (12 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

An Adam Dalgliesh mystery. Set in her beloved East Anglia, Death in Holy Orders is the fourteenth novel in P.D. James' Adam Dalgliesh series and a thrilling work of crime fiction filled with intrigue and suspense.

Death in Holy Orders is set in an Anglican theological college on a desolate stretch of the East Anglian coast, a location which she has made particularly her own.

When the body of one of the students is found on the shore smothered by a fall of sand, his wealthy father demands that Scotland Yard reexamines the verdict of accidental death. Dalgliesh has visited St. Anselm's in his boyhood and, as he is due for a holiday, agrees to pay a visit, expecting no more than a nostalgic return to old haunts and a straightforward examination of the evidence given at the inquest. Instead he finds himself embroiled in one of the most horrific and puzzling cases of his career. Other visitors come to the college on the weekend of his arrival, not all of them with benign intent. One will never leave it alive.

Death in Holy Orders, a masterly exploration of an isolated and beleaguered community coping with the evil and disruption of murder, has all the qualities which distinguish P. D. James as a novelist: the sensitive evocation of place, a complex and credible mystery, respect for forensic detail, and the tension of a plot that never flags.

P. D. James was a best-selling and internationally acclaimed crime writer. She was the creator of Adam Dalgliesh and Cordelia Gray and their long, successful series of mysteries. Her works include Cover Her Face (1962), An Unsuitable Job for a Woman (1972), Innocent Blood (1980), Children of Men (1992), and the Jane Austen-inspired Death Comes to Pemberley (2011).

James was born in Oxford in 1920. She won awards for crime writing in Britain, America, Italy, and Scandinavia, including the Mystery Writers of America Grandmaster Award. She received honorary degrees from seven British universities, was awarded an OBE in 1983, and created a life peer in 1991. In 1997 she was elected president of the Society of Authors and stood down from this role in 2013.

©2001 P.D. James (P)2015 Faber Audio

Critic Reviews

"At the height of her powers...thoroughly gripping." ( Guardian)
"A grand gothic novel of gut-wrenching suspense, satisfying at all levels.... Nobody can put the reader in the eye of a storm quite like P.D. James" ( Sunday Express)
"Death in Holy Orders is pure pleasure." ( Spectator)
"It is a long time since I submerged myself in a book with such blissful enjoyment." ( Country Life)

What listeners say about Death in Holy Orders

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  • AC
  • 20-08-2016

Enjoyable mystery

I've always liked PD James' Adam Dalgleish stories. This is an excellent reading of one of the best!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Jeremy
  • 27-04-2016

Clever, gripping, very well read

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. PDJames' novels work well as audio books. Clearly articulated here. I look forward to the next one. Not all readers are as easy to listen to.

2 people found this helpful

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  • pauline wallin
  • 16-02-2015

The Queen of Crime In Her Prime

Would you listen to Death in Holy Orders again? Why?

I read Death in Holy Orders when first published in hardback. It was a pleasure to revisit such a powerful work in narrated form; James excels at creating a closed environment where characters are at odds with each other. The ecclesiastical background is novel and fascinating; high Anglican church rituals and modes of thought are unlike everyday life yet characters still exhibit human flaws. James is famous for the vivid way she includes the east coast landscape into her books, and rightly so.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Adam Dalgleish though it is difficult to imagine he is actually a policeman; perhaps he should have followed in his father's footsteps and become a vicar. There are times when he seems to good to be a real human being but perhaps this is what readers want, a high ranking officer, whose values will not be compromised and whose sensitivity is displayed by his love of literature.

What does Daniel Weyman bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Daniel Weyman is by far and away the best narrator I have listened to so far in my experience of listening to the audible.co catalogue. He has a range of different 'voices' which suit each character so well. I enjoyed his 'voicing' of Dalgleish who might be made to sound pompous in dialogue alone but Weyman brought a human touch to his speech, making him a more sympathetic character.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Not one moment in particular; but James's pace is swift, her description vivid and her plotting as detailed as a hand woven tapestry.

Any additional comments?

This murder mystery is perfect to be listened to on a chilly evening under the duvet with the wind howling outside.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Nicola
  • 18-07-2020

Doesn't disappoint

Great story as usual and an excellent narrator. If you are a fan of Dalgliesh then this will please you.

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  • Sam
  • 21-05-2020

A very intriguing story.

This is my first P D James novel and it won't be my last. I chose it as I've see the 2 part tv drama starring Martin Shaw which is, in its own right, a very good program and keeps quite close to book with only a few minor differences. The book, however, is far superior with more backstory and details about the key characters and the way it is read give you an instant picture and impression of all the characters.

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  • Mrs
  • 17-02-2019

Death in Holy Orders

what can I say, yet another brilliantly written book, complex and intriguing.
superbly narrated keeping the listener hooked.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 23-12-2018

Classic P D James

Great plotting. The Christian institutional setting may be a bit mysterious to some, but provides a setting rich in interesting, intense and eccentric characters and practices. More insights into Adam D. provided.
Expertly crafted.

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  • Trixie
  • 10-05-2018

Not her best

I love P.D. James but found this story was rather dragged out with irritating characters annoying me at every turn. An unbelievable number of corpses in such a small Christian community put Midsomer Murders to shame.

Lacks the psychological insight and subtlety she usually employs in her books, so a bit disappointing for this fan.

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  • Debsgarr
  • 30-01-2018

Kept me guessing

Kept me guessing right to the end. A brilliant novel that I couldn't put down and listened to every moment that I could. Good srrator also.

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  • Mike
  • 19-03-2017

Easy listening with believable characters

i loved the descriptive pros and the uncomplicated characters. The story romped along. i'll listen to more PD James based on this.