The Murder Room by P. D. James: B+

From the front flap:
The Dupayne, a small private museum on the edge of London’s Hampstead Heath devoted to the interwar years 1919-39, is in turmoil. The trustees—the three children of the museum founder, old Max Dupayne—are bitterly at odds over whether it should be closed. Then one of them is brutally murdered, and what seemed to be no more than a family dispute erupts into horror. For even as Commander Adam Dalgliesh and his team investigate the first killing, a second corpse is discovered. Clearly, someone at the Dupayne is prepared to kill, and kill again.

The case is fraught with danger and complexity from the outset, not least because of the range of possible suspects—and victims. And still more sinister, the murders appear to echo the notorious crimes of the past featured in one of the museum’s most popular galleries, the Murder Room.

Despite containing my absolute favorite of all the characters Dalgliesh has encountered in his investigations, The Murder Room was a bit of a disappointment after the previous two books, which were both excellent. I’m not sure exactly what about it failed to engage. True, it features another “institution on the verge of closure,” but it it isn’t derivative. It’s a quick read with a solid story and, as I mentioned, it includes Tally Clutton, who is an awesome character. She reminds me of my Grandma and what I might be like as an older woman.

Maybe it’s the fact that, for the first time, I actually had sussed out the identity of the culprit and found it surprisingly easy to do because of one rather glaring clue. Or perhaps it was all the telling without showing going on regarding Dalgliesh’s personal life. It isn’t that it was implausible, but it wasn’t presented in a way that had me fully convinced.

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