Bestselling author P. D. James died in 2014. I was embarrassed to discover that I had thus far failed to read her final novel, The Private Patient, which was published way back in 2008. If you’ve been waiting for my review, read on.
In the later books of her Inspector Adam Dalgliesh mystery series, Baroness Phyllis adopted the strategem of setting her murders within somewhat isolated communities, in part bridging the gap between the police procedural and the traditional English “cozy” mystery. The Private Patient continued and capped that pattern. The location here is Cheverell Manor, a beautiful old estate in the county of Dorset. George Chandler-Powell, a prominent plastic surgeon, has acquired the property and set up a private clinic there, where his richest and most celebrated patients can get their tummy tucks and face-lifts in luxurious privacy.
One of his patients is Rhoda Gradwyn, a prominent investigative journalist. Rhoda carries an ugly facial scar, a souvenir of a childhood with a brutal, drunken father. Now, in her 40s, she asks to have the scar removed, telling Chandler-Powell that she “no longer has need of it.” A couple members of his live-in staff urge him not to admit the woman to Cheverell House, since they know of her work and mistrust her. Continue reading ‘The Private Patient,’ by P. D. James