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Unnatural Causes (1967)

por P. D. James

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Séries: Adam Dalgliesh (3)

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2,142407,642 (3.62)80
Inspector Dalgliesh and his extraordinary aunt set out to discover the shocking truth about the past of a famous mystery writer--whose ghastly murder left a circle of bizarre friends terrified that they are next on the killer's list.
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Mostrando 1-5 de 40 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
I like P.D. James, but I don't think this was her best effort. I liked her descriptions, I like her detective, Adam Dalgliesh. The crime was unusual and interesting. But the cast of characters was a little over the top, and the solution to the crime was very complicated. I didn't buy that Dalgliesh was able to figure it out with the clues there were to go on. Still, I enjoyed the time spent between the covers of this story, so it gets three stars. A solid read, but not remarkable. ( )
  TheGalaxyGirl | Jun 29, 2024 |
Un famoso escritor de misterio es encontrado muerto en el fondo de un bote, con ambas manos cortadas a la altura de las muñecas. El superintendente Adam Dalgliesh, con la ayuda de su notable tía, Jane, debe descubrir quién escribió la sentencia de muerte del escritor antes de que la trama tome otro giro asesino.
  Natt90 | Jan 13, 2023 |
Dalgliesh on Vacation
Review of the Sphere Books paperback edition (1973) of the Faber & Faber hardcover original (1967)

But he lingered himself for a few more minutes in the library. He had a tantalising and irrational feeling that somewhere, and very recently, he had seen a clue to Seton’s death, a fugitive hint which his subconscious mind had registered but which obstinately refused to come forward and be recognised. This experience was not new to him. Like every good detective, he had known it before. Occasionally it had led him to one of those seemingly intuitive successes on which his reputation partly rested. More often the transitory impression, remembered and analysed, had been found irrelevant. But the subconscious could not be forced. The clue, if clue it were, for the moment eluded him.


Unnatural Causes finds Adam Dalgliesh on vacation in Monksmere on the East Suffolk coast for an annual visit to his aunt and a planned time of relaxation away from his duties at Scotland Yard CID. Death is not far away though. A corpse is brought ashore in a dinghy with its hands amputated. It is identified as the body of local writer Maurice Seton. The suspects include a brother and other writers, critics, secretaries & relatives who live in the vicinity and the local police investigate without calling in any official assistance from Scotland Yard. Adam Dalgliesh is at the heart of the investigation regardless.

In a surprise twist, the autopsy reveals that Maurice Seton died of natural causes, an apparent heart attack and he was known to have a failing heart. Why then would his corpse be mutilated after the fact and the body set adrift? Then yet another body is found, a poisoning or a suicide? The answers are revealed in a dramatic finale in the midst of a torrential storm and flood on the Suffolk coast where Dalgliesh is called on to save some of the locals. Is one of them a murderer and will Dalgliesh become their next victim in the chaos of the tempest?

I'm quite enjoying getting reacquainted with P.D. James and Adam Dalgliesh in a binge re-read thanks to discovering my old 1980's paperbacks in a storage locker cleanout. I look forward to the next books in the series.

Trivia and Links
* In Book 1 Cover Her Face, Adam Dalgliesh was a Detective Chief Inspector. In Books 2 to 4 he is a Detective Superintendent and then in Books 5 to 14 he is a Detective Commander.

Unnatural Causes was adapted for television in 1993 as part of the long running Dalgliesh TV-series for Anglia Television/ITV (1983-1998) starring actor Roy Marsden as Commander** Adam Dalgliesh of Scotland Yard. You can watch the entire episode of the 1993 adaptation on YouTube here. NOTE: The adaptation differs considerably from the original novel.
** Dalgliesh is a Superintendent in the novel, but in the TV adaptation he was already a Commander.

The new Acorn TV-series reboot Dalgliesh (2021-?) starring Bertie Carver as Adam Dalgliesh has not yet done an adaptation of Unnatural Causes. It has not yet been announced which books are being adapted for Season 2 (as of mid July 2022). Season 1 adapted Books 4, 5 & 7.

Remember me, you said, at Blythburgh,
As if you were not always in my mind
And there could be an art to bend more sure
A heart already wholly you inclined
Of you, the you enchanted mind bereave
More clearly back your image to receive,
And in the unencumbered holy place
Recall again an unforgotten grace.
I you possessed must needs remember still
At Blythburgh my love, or where you will.
- A poem by Adam Dalgliesh written during Unnatural Causes.
( )
  alanteder | Jul 16, 2022 |
Adam Dalgliesh looks forward to ten days relaxation at his Aunt Jane's coastal home in Monksmere, Suffolk. When neighbor Maurice Seton's body turns up in a boat with his hands chopped off, many residents become suspects, including his aunt. Her chopper, stolen months earlier, probably severed the hands. Although the case belongs to Inspector Reckless, it ruins Adam's vacation, and Reckless keeps him somewhat in the loop. The book seemed repetitive in places, and the long drawn-out taped confession rehashed too much of the story. While not James' finest effort, it still rates as an enjoyable one. I listened to the audiobook read by Penelope Dellaporta whose accent gave it the classic British cozy feel. ( )
  thornton37814 | Oct 12, 2021 |
Adam Dalgliesh goes on holiday to visit his Aunt Jane Dalgliesh in Monksmere on the coast of England. While there, he wants to decide whether or not to marry Deborah Riscoe. However, Maurice Seton is found dead in his brother's boat and missing his hands. This throws Dalgliesh into an investigation with Inspector Gerry Reckless since Maurice appears to have died of natural causes--a heart attack. The death causes much concern among the residents of Monksmere: Digby Seton (Maurice's half-brother), Justin Bryce (writer), Oliver Latham (critic), Celia Calthrop (romance writer), Liz Marley (Cambridge student), and Sylvia Kedge (handicapped typist). Then there is another unquestionable murder and a bit later a terrific storm that finally reveals the murderer. ( )
  baughga | Mar 14, 2021 |
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Nome do autorPapelTipo de autorObra?Estado
James, P. D.Autorautor principaltodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Dellaporta, PenelopeNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Solinas, AnnaTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Tamminen, LeenaTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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The corpse without hands lay in the bottom of a small sailing dinghy drifting just within sight of the Suffolk coast.
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Maurice always said that writing wouldn't keep him in socks. He was rather bitter about it. He said that this was the age of "Soap-powder fiction". If a writer hadn't a gimmick no one was interested. Bestsellers were created by the advertisers, good writing was a positive disadvantage and the public libraries killed sales.
`He must have been a strange sort of chap. Fussy. Methodical. That card index, for instance.'
[To get enough money] `much might be necessary. A novel every 6 months; a weekly stint in *Home & Hearth* [woman's mag]; appearances whenever her agent could get them on those interminably boring tv panels; short stories written under one name or another for the women's weeklies; the gracious appearances at Church bazaars where the publicity was free even if the tea had to be paid for.'
`It must have given him the greatest satisfaction to write it all down. There could be no typewriter, no mechanical keys between this pain and its expression. He needed to see the words forming themselves under his hand.'
`What about his style?'
`Turgid but grammatical. And, in these days, when every illiterate debutante thinks she is a novelist, who am I to quarrel with that? Written I imagine with Fowler on his left hand and Roget on his right. Stale, flat and, alas, rapidly becoming unprofitable. ... When I last saw him I had to listen to the usual diatribe about the decline of standards and the exploitation of sex and sadism ...'
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Inspector Dalgliesh and his extraordinary aunt set out to discover the shocking truth about the past of a famous mystery writer--whose ghastly murder left a circle of bizarre friends terrified that they are next on the killer's list.

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