Shroud for a Nightingale

Shroud for a Nightingale

Hailed as “mystery at its best” by The New York Times, Shroud for a Nightingale is the fourth book in bestselling author P.D. James’s Adam Dalgliesh mystery series.The young women of Nightingale House are there to learn to nurse and comfort the suffering. But when one of the students plays patient in a demonstration of nursing skills, she is horribly, brutally killedTimes,...

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Title:Shroud for a Nightingale
Author:P.D. James
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Shroud for a Nightingale Reviews

  • Susan

    This is the fourth book in the Adam Dalgliesh series. I have recently been re-reading these novels and, although I have enjoyed the previous books, this certainly represents a seeming increase in ability and confidence in the writing and storyline. “Shroud for a Nightingale,” is set in a nurse training school and P D James worked for the NHS for many years, so it is an environment she would have been extremely familiar with.

    The story begins with Miss Muriel Beale, an Inspector who is

    This is the fourth book in the Adam Dalgliesh series. I have recently been re-reading these novels and, although I have enjoyed the previous books, this certainly represents a seeming increase in ability and confidence in the writing and storyline. “Shroud for a Nightingale,” is set in a nurse training school and P D James worked for the NHS for many years, so it is an environment she would have been extremely familiar with.

    The story begins with Miss Muriel Beale, an Inspector who is setting out for the day of the John Carpendar Hospital inspection. Her first impression, on arriving at the impressive Nightingale House, is that it is highly unsuitable for a nurse training school. However, the inspection begins with a demonstration by the student nurses and, during this, there is a death. When another student nurse is killed, Adam Dalgliesh is called in to solve the crimes.

    This is an assured mystery, with a closed community and a great cast of characters; from the arrogant surgeon, Mr Stephen Courtney Briggs to super efficient matron, Mary Taylor and the Sisters and Nurses who live and work in Nightingale House. There is little privacy in Nightingale House and Dalgliesh soon gets to hear of the affairs, petty squabbles and secrets that abound in the hospital. As he delves into the past of the inhabitants of Nightingale House, he uncovers the truth, and James gives us an assured, intelligent mystery with a great range of suspects and motives.

  • Quirkyreader

    This was another great Adam Dalgliesh story. I am taking the series slow so that I can enjoy what P.D. James left us.

    This story takes place at a nurses training school. A place that is full of secrets and lies.

    Read this story and see why James was an award winning crime author.

  • Rachel

    I had heard of P.D. James before but had never read any of her works, and I didn't really know she wrote mysteries. So I was quite pleasantly surprised by

    --so much so that I've since read another James and am onto a third.

    is a great caper, written in the 70s. I think it's aged extremely well; in fact, I think the whole plot and setting is made all the more creepy and ominous by the somewhat antiquated medical procedures that figure prominently in the plot. I defy anyone to come up wi

    I had heard of P.D. James before but had never read any of her works, and I didn't really know she wrote mysteries. So I was quite pleasantly surprised by

    --so much so that I've since read another James and am onto a third.

    is a great caper, written in the 70s. I think it's aged extremely well; in fact, I think the whole plot and setting is made all the more creepy and ominous by the somewhat antiquated medical procedures that figure prominently in the plot. I defy anyone to come up with something inherently scarier than a British nursing school in the 70s where all the nurses where classic nurse uniforms, the school itself is something of a gothic mansion, and even relatively routine medical procedures like inserting a feeding tube take on an intensely macabre character. Good times.

    I am not a good mystery reader in that I can never figure anything out until the author reveals it. Actually, I don't know whether that makes me a poor reader or whether it makes James something of an evil genius. Either way, I like the suspense of it all!

  • Lobstergirl

    Student nurses are dropping dead at the Nightingale nurse training school. Does someone there harbor a secret past? (Hint: yes.) Published in 1971, this is James's fourth novel, and of these, her most robust and satisfying. It feels miles away from her earlier, Christie-esque stylings. You wouldn't find a passage like this in any of her first three, for example:

    She

    Student nurses are dropping dead at the Nightingale nurse training school. Does someone there harbor a secret past? (Hint: yes.) Published in 1971, this is James's fourth novel, and of these, her most robust and satisfying. It feels miles away from her earlier, Christie-esque stylings. You wouldn't find a passage like this in any of her first three, for example:

    It still has an antique feel, though, for a book published in 1971. It has 1950s gender sensibilities (the assumption that a woman, once married, will end her career or her studies), it has that obsession with spinsters so irresistible to British mystery writers ("she was a thin, brown-skinned woman, brittle and nobbly as a dead branch who looked as if the sap had long since dried in her bones"), and it still features the generalized misanthropy that Christie seemed to bequeath to the genre; nearly all the suspects are hateful, bitter, or piteous in some way.

    Perhaps the most appealing aspect of

    is that Inspector Dalgliesh becomes a fully-realized character: chilly, exacting, self-aware, with large reserves of self-esteem and compassion; thoroughly likeable. An intriguing side character is Dalgliesh's second-in-command, the horny and resentful Masterson.

  • Rebecca

    Hooked me in. Was an engaging mystery but it was nowhere as cozy as a Christie. Sometimes was a bit disturbing even...

  • springsnotfail

    I was reading this, and it was all about par for the course for PD James - you know, unpleasant people, beautiful writing, OTT foreshadowings of horror to come, rather odd emphasis on period architecture - when suddenly it was all UNEXPECTED DANCE COMPETITION SURPRISE NAZIS. I would never have thought that any author could make the revelation of surprise Nazis during a tense and angry tango incredibly depressing, but PD James managed it. Well done.

  • Keith Davis

    I believe it was Red Skelton who said that to be a writer you have to be a close observer of human nature, but not so close that you start to hate everyone. P.D. James seems to frequently drift across the line into hating everybody. The men in James' world tend to be pompous, self-absorbed, preening narcissists, but they are almost nice compared to the women. The women are often petty, manipulative, mean-spirited and deliberately cruel.

    Shroud for a Nightingale is about a series of murders at a

    I believe it was Red Skelton who said that to be a writer you have to be a close observer of human nature, but not so close that you start to hate everyone. P.D. James seems to frequently drift across the line into hating everybody. The men in James' world tend to be pompous, self-absorbed, preening narcissists, but they are almost nice compared to the women. The women are often petty, manipulative, mean-spirited and deliberately cruel.

    Shroud for a Nightingale is about a series of murders at a small nursing school in rural England. It is about a group of women who work and live together in a rather small space and a veneer of niceness covers a lot of animosity. It is a solid mystery with a number of twists and misleads. Readers familiar with the conventions of the mystery genre may guess the solution, but I think James here is more interested in exploring the dark corners of her characters than with presenting a puzzle.

  • Esme

    I waver between 3 and four stars. PD James writes masterful mysteries that are intelligent and interesting. But those are the only levels on which they will effect you. I don't find myself relating or particularly liking the protagonist- he's very intelligent and you can respect him, you just don't care that much- you don't get attached to the recurring characters. I honestly don't think you are supposed to really. I think PD James set out to write exactly the type of mystery I described in the

    I waver between 3 and four stars. PD James writes masterful mysteries that are intelligent and interesting. But those are the only levels on which they will effect you. I don't find myself relating or particularly liking the protagonist- he's very intelligent and you can respect him, you just don't care that much- you don't get attached to the recurring characters. I honestly don't think you are supposed to really. I think PD James set out to write exactly the type of mystery I described in the second sentence. And sometimes that is exactly the type of book/mystery that I want, a puzzle for your mind, not a story for your heart. That being said, that type of book won't ever get 5 stars from me no matter how skilled the writing because it's not the life altering kind of book, nor the: I read the whole series in 3 days...couldn't stop...cried when....type of book, if you know what I mean. But it is definitely a good satisfying mystery, as are many of hers that I have read.

  • Erin

    My grandmother left this for my mother to read, and bored, I started it waiting for her in the car. Boredom, too, is the only reason I can give for my finishing it -- I was mesmerized by how entirely

    it was, both the story and the literary style.

    I don't read mysteries, and essentially all of my related presumptions are based on Cluedo and The Westing Game, but even compared to those, Shroud for a Nightingale is kind of a dud. So two student nurses are killed, the Scotland Yard is ca

    My grandmother left this for my mother to read, and bored, I started it waiting for her in the car. Boredom, too, is the only reason I can give for my finishing it -- I was mesmerized by how entirely

    it was, both the story and the literary style.

    I don't read mysteries, and essentially all of my related presumptions are based on Cluedo and The Westing Game, but even compared to those, Shroud for a Nightingale is kind of a dud. So two student nurses are killed, the Scotland Yard is called in, and the blurb promises that "a secret medical world of sex, shame, and scandal is about to be exposed." But most of the book is spent discussing hospital administration. This was vaguely interesting, just for the differences in American / British terminology (senior nurses are called "Sisters"), but not exactly riveting fiction. Also, a lot of text is spent on meticulous descriptions of people's faces (spoiler: most of them are ugly), and my copy was lousy with typos.

    To reiterate, I'm not a mystery aficionado, but this story's tedious 287 pages are topped only by its even more disappointing solution, supported by some very dull clues (a big plot point concerns a missing library book) and ultimately a left-field "character's dark past" explanation that renders the deduction leading up to it rather pointless. So maybe don't read Shroud for a Nightingale, even to relive severe ennui, as the book will just cause more yawns itself.

  • tom bomp

    At several points the main character is discussing the case with his assistant and, despite the fact they've already talked about the evidence and what they think and he's the current viewpoint character and we follow both of them through everything important they do, their important deductions are covered up with sudden reported speech, like "he said what had happened, his assistant said yes that's obvious". Like are you *kidding* me how lazy can you get

    The book is OK enough but the

    At several points the main character is discussing the case with his assistant and, despite the fact they've already talked about the evidence and what they think and he's the current viewpoint character and we follow both of them through everything important they do, their important deductions are covered up with sudden reported speech, like "he said what had happened, his assistant said yes that's obvious". Like are you *kidding* me how lazy can you get

    The book is OK enough but the denouement is pretty silly and is the sort of thing that makes 95% of the book feel like a total waste. There aren't enough clues for it to make sense and the ones given which do lead to the ending don't really feel consistent or reasonable. They try and link the ending to a character's personality and then right at the end do a "oh btw actually it's someone totally different" for who there are 0 clues given. Not horrible horrible but pretty typical mystery fare in that the ending may as well be detached from the rest of the book because the rest of the book isn't important.

    EDIT: After thinking about it some more, decreased my rating to 1 star because of the above and

    1) The ending is absolute nonsense. The motives given make no sense, the story of the identity of a character makes no sense and the entire book requires several characters to have acted with no intelligence or thought at all, even ignoring the typical mystery trope of "oh they avoided an easier way because of X unlikely idiosyncrasy"

    2) The main character is dull as ditchwater. I remember hardly any of what he did. His assistant just had sex with a suspect (no lead up, no follow up) and made misogynistic+abusive comments about a witness. I'm not saying all characters have to be cool and likeable but scenes which are 15 pages of abusive, cruel thoughts about an old woman from someone who's seriously abused his position is horrible.

    3) I could predict an event that happened near the end because it happened at near the exact same time and in a similar way to the other one of her books I read and, like that one, puts the character in incredibly serious danger and then pulls it out by having the dangerous person be a complete idiot and events to play out perfectly.

    4) Physical attractiveness is treated as the most important part of each character to a large extent. Not surprising, but really crap.

    So yeah this book stinks. A lot.

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