This past month has been a tough on our household, losing one pet and almost losing the other. Oddly enough reading was not a comfort as it usually is, it was just difficult. I started one book but just couldn’t stay focused. What better time to turn to an old standard: the British detective Adam Dalgliesh in P.D.James’ The Lighthouse. The book was like reading a PBS Mystery episode, so very very English. This is the type of book that goes very well with a cup of tea.
Commander Dalgliesh should have been rather long in the tooth by the time this was written, having appeared in James’ books for over 40 years. Perhaps he has a picture of Dorian Gray tucked away in a closet of his flat. In this story he and his team are called to a fictional island off the Cornish coast. It is privately owned and is used solely as a retreat for distinguished visitors from England and other parts of Europe. The population of the island is no more than about 12 people. A guest was found hanging, and it is unclear whether the cause was suicide or murder.
The first several chapters introduce us to the victim and the other residents of the island at the time of the murder. Not surprisingly the victim wasn’t very nice, so plenty of people had reason to dislike him, perhaps even kill him. There are a few side stories as well: Commander Dalgliesh wonders if the lady in his life will agree to marry him, his subordinates vie for his approval in order that they might be promoted.
This book fits in what I would call “old school” detective fiction, a nice little “who done it” without too much blood and gore. Overall, it was a pleasant enough distraction during trying times.