1975; 284 pages. Book #5 of the Adam Dalgleish series. New Author? : Yes. Genre : Murder Mystery. Overall Rating : 7*/10.
Dalgleish missed the boat. Father
Baddeley, his boyhood curate, wrote to him asking him to come visit and give
him some "professional advice". Since Dalgleish is a detective, it could be a criminal matter.
Unfortunately, Dalgleish was laid up in the hospital, and by the time he got
out and up to Toynton Grange, where the old curate lived, Father Baddeley had passed away.
foul play is suspected, but now it seems a suspicious amount of dying is going on there. It “feels” like murders are being committed, but where is the
evidence or the motive?
What’s To Like...
The setting is neat; Toynton Grange is kind of
a hospice for terminally-ill wheelchair-bound patients. It’s a small operation – only five patients
by the time Dalgleish gets there, plus a staff of eight or so. That makes for a nice number of suspects. And while some of the characters were more
congenial than others; there were no blatant “black hats”. So the suspect list remains sizable
throughout the book, shrinking only whenever another body is discovered.
The writing style is “flowery”, especially at the beginning. I found it distracting, although things got
better once Dalgleish started his investigation. There were also a whole bunch of descriptive
passages; which slowed things down more than they set the scene.
There are clues to be found amongst the flowers and the descriptions,
but both Dalgleish and I missed them.
The ending was good – neither too obvious nor too arbitrary. It was nice to get acquainted with Dalgleish,
despite him being yet another fictional sleuth burnt out and contemplating
retiring from the force. The book is a
stand-alone, and it’s hard to say if I was missing anything by not reading the
series in order.
Kewlest New Word...
Minatory : Expressing or conveying a threat; e.g. : a
Mogg, his greatest and, she sometimes thought, his only
friend, had been christened Morgan Evans but preferred to use his nickname,
regarding it as more appropriate to a poet of the people’s struggle. It was not that Mogg struggled greatly
himself; indeed Ursula had never met anyone who drank and ate so resolutely at
other people’s expense. He chanted his
confused battle cries to anarchy and hatred in local pubs where his hairy and
sad-eyed followers listened in silence or spasmodically banged the table with their
beer mugs amid grunts of approval. (pg. 37 )
She wondered how she had never noticed it
before, that irritating note of unctuous reproof in his voice. She turned abruptly away. The hand, thus rejected, slipped heavily from
her shoulders. She remembered suddenly
what he reminded her of: the sugar Father Christmas on her first Christmas
tree, so desirable, so passionately desired.
And you bit into nothingness; a trace of sweetness on the tongue and then
an empty cavity grained with white sand.
“We all suffer from a progressive
incurable disease. We call it
life.” (pg. 51)
worst thing about The Black Tower was
something P.D. James probably had no control over – the back cover blurb. It gives far too much away – telling you the
number of people that are going to die, and essentially who they are. That thoroughly quashed any suspense the
Beyond that, my only quibble is the way the wheelchair-bound patients
were portrayed. I was expecting them to
be courageous, innovative, and some to be evil enough to be suspects. But instead they were mostly pitiable.
me, The Black Tower was an okay read,
but not a memorable one. If I find
another Dalgleish novel at the used-book store, I'll probably give the series another go. It might be that I just picked the wrong one
to start off with. 7 Stars.