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Death of an Expert Witness (Adam Dalgliesh #6)
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Death of an Expert Witness

(Adam Dalgliesh #6)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  9,049 ratings  ·  325 reviews
Dr. Lorrimer appeared to be the picture of a bloodless, coldly efficient scientist. Only when his brutally slain body is discovered and his secret past dissected does the image begin to change. Once again, Chief Inspector Adam Dalgliesh learns that there is more to human beings than meets the eye -- and more to solving a murder than the obvious clues.
Paperback, 306 pages
Published May 20th 2002 by Gardners Books (first published 1977)
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3.99  · 
Rating details
 ·  9,049 ratings  ·  325 reviews

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It's unfortunate Commander Adam Dalgliesh doesn't have amusing personality quirks or foibles which would endear him to readers the way many of the most beloved fictional sleuths do. Well he does write poetry but unfortunately, that's not the sort of hobby most people can relate to, more's the pity. And even that unusual side of him wasn't especially relevant to Death of an Expert Witness.

This was my sixth P. D. James mystery about the illustrious and aloof commander who is a long time widower a
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was another great twisty and turny Dalgliesh book by P.D. James. It seems with each instalment of the series it gets even more complex. Which I find greatly enjoyable.

Like most James readers I watched the series, so as I was reading the book the series played through my head.

And I am looking forward to the next book.

Nov 09, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kate by: Mulzer
Open letter to P.D. James:

You are smart.

Stop trying to prove it.



I really feel like there's a good mystery somewhere in that brain of hers. Reading this book was peeling back layers of mediocre material to arrive at something good; ultimately, the central crimes were interesting. But she diluted the effect with too many obvious red herrings, too many equally potent motives, too many unnecessary details and, perhaps most importantly, not enough trust in the reader (for example, when the t
May 28, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mystery lovers
(notes while reading:) One of the reasons P.D. James is so great is utterly simple. She writes a murder mystery like it's a novel. This sounds facile, but it's unusual, often a hallmark of greatness like James's or Josephine Tey's. In this book, for example, the discovery of the body is written, not in order to give us all the details, clues and red herrings, of the body's condition, but as a truly traumatic event in the life of an established character, a rather sheltered young woman. This is w ...more
May 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
The murderer in Death of an Expert Witness by P. D. James is one for which we rightly should expect to show some empathy, if not sympathy. The murderer is a victim as well as a perpetrator. That being said, I haven’t given anything away. Every suspect in this novel has some emotional baggage that might or might not have caused them to kill the deceased. Even the eventual victim who inspires such angst and ire among his co-workers is not one for which I could withhold my sympathy. I could underst ...more
During the investigation of a local murder, we are introduced to the people who work at Hoggart's Laboratory, a forensic laboratory written and set in the 1970s. Dr. Lorrimer, who will, of course, be murdered (it's in the book description) is not at all likable, and we have been introduced to a slew of people with possible motive, and not one of them particularly endearing. Adam Dalgleish enters the picture in the second part of the book; there is nothing endearing about him, either, although hi ...more
Mar 28, 2009 rated it it was ok
This was not my favorite of James' books. The extensive cast of characters and their interconnected lives were not only confusing, but also pushed too far beyond the edge of plausible. Certainly happenstance, family ties and being in the right place at the right (or wrong) time is the keystone to most great mystery stories, but James' overachievement in this area made less of her talent. James set up a story with 30+ characters, and then defaulted to creating complicated sexual histories in ord ...more
Aug 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars.

The plot is a good one and the setting near Ely and the fens interesting. In parts the author is overly descriptive and Dalgliesch is his dour self. The forensic lab where the murder takes place was interesting and the now mostly historic methods of identifying suspects. DNA not even thought about.

The characters are unlikeable such as Domenica the sister of the director who is beautiful and sexy but also without depth. Massingham the assistant to Dalgliesch is an interesting characte
This took a while to get into.

There is a reason PD James is so well-known as a mystery writer - she knows what she's doing, and she's good at it. The woman can craft a mystery. I hear from various places that this wasn't one of her best, though, and I'm quite glad to hear that, because sorry, PD, but this wasn't really for me.

It started off with the mother of all info-dumps. I find it very sad when mystery novels start off like this. It is easy to overdo it completely, and this overdid it comple
Listened to in audio format.

I remembered the Adam Daglish TV adaptations when I was young. I remembered at the time I did not like the Adam Daglish character. When these book was in a Audible two for one I thought I would give it another try.

Death of an expert witness was first published in 1977. This book is a bit of a cozy mystery set in The Fen. Unfortunately Commander Adam Daglish lacks personality, he is neither charismatic or a bad boy like DI Regan who another Tv detective from The Sween
Mar 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A girl's body has turned up in a clunch pit (clunch: a hard chalk used as building stone) in East Anglia, but we don't care about her. Our focus is the Hoggatt Forensic Science Laboratory, one of whose forensic scientists, who just happens to be hated by many, will be bludgeoned to death before he can finish examining the evidence in the clunch pit case. The lovely Dalgliesh helicopters in with his appealing sidekick, Massingham, a deeply ordinary aristocrat. "The marvel of the Massinghams was t ...more
May 21, 2016 rated it liked it
During the investigation of a local murder, we are introduced to the people who work at Hoggart's Laboratory, a forensic laboratory written and set in the 1970s. Dr. Lorrimer, who will, of course, be murdered (it's in the book description) is not at all likable, and we have been introduced to a slew of people with possible motive, and not one of them particularly endearing. Adam Dalgleish enters the picture in the second part of the book; there is nothing endearing about him, either, although hi ...more
Mar 16, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
I wanted an easy and short read after completing War and Peace and reached for a murder mystery by an author I'd never read before. I didn't know what to expect, though P.D. James is a highly acclaimed mystery writer.

The book began with a flurry of character introductions, some of which required some pretty ugly dialogue (think George Lucas ugly). But once the story got going I became absorbed by all the twists and secrets revealed as a result of the murder investigation.

The last half of the b
Nov 20, 2015 rated it it was ok
This is my fifth P.D. James book--I keep looking for a good mystery writer, and she has a reputation. I am sorry to say that this is the end of the line, though. I seem to have started with the worst possible book--that Pride and Prejudice thing--which I stopped reading in utter horror around page 20. I am a Jane Austen fan, and I have my pride. Then I tried the two Cordelia Gray books, An Unsuitable Job for a Woman and The Skull Beneath The Skin. Well, those two had a somewhat feeble female lea ...more
Dec 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
After Postern of Fate I decided to try my first-ever PD James. My library has a pretty miserable selection so I wasn't able to find any of her first novels, though I like to try to read in order where possible. The earliest one available was Death of an Expert Witness , so that's the one I got.

It was a delight to read this mystery, especially as a change from the mediocre and pedestrian Postern of Fate. The writing is very good and the mystery well-constructed with detail after detail falling
Sandra Danby
Oct 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction
What a great title. Ask most people to name a PD James novel, and this is probably it.

A gloriously convoluted plot surrounding a Fens village, a forensic science laboratory, and a tightly-knit community linked in ways the reader cannot forsee. The clues are there but each is so fleetingly mentioned, so parsimonious, and so intertwined, that you will forget each and discount its importance. When the senior biologist at Hoggatt’s Laboratory is found dead, New Scotland Yard is called in. Commander
Jan C
Possibly ★★★ 1\2. But it looks as though my rating is about the same as the first time I read it. No memory of the resolution of this book. Maybe it was the fact that I didn't hear it all at one time. It had to go back to the library for a while. So I may have forgotten part of the beginning of the book while I waited to get it again.

Still working my way through P.D. James. A Taste for Death is next.
This is P.D. James? Wow. Not all it's cracked up to be, that's for sure. Read it in a nod to her recent passing; wish I had something nice to say about it. Heard a rumor that this isn't her best work, so today I picked up Cover Her Face, the first in the Adam Dalgliesh series, & I'll give it a shot for a second chance at my reading affections.
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At last, a fully fledged Adam Dalgliesh mystery. This being the 6th volume in the series and we are finally seeing what Commander Dalgliesh can do.
In this volume, we have reverted back to seeing Dalgliesh as a bit of a one dimensional character, though this was seen through the eyes of the other characters. This was the one area where the novel fell down somewhat for me.
Otherwise we have a cast of characters with hints of incest and lesbianism, which at the time the novel was written would have
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
πολυ φιλοσοφικο .την αγαπω
Nov 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery
I was little disappointed, not one PD James's best by a long shot. Not a lot of satisfaction with the motives of the killer. It was beautifully set-up but the sort just loses the plot.
Paula Dembeck
Oct 13, 2013 rated it liked it
This is the sixth in the Adam Dalgliesh detective series.

In this mystery the crime scene is the Hoggart Forensic Science Laboratory in East Anglia near Cambridge. Dr. Edwin Lorrimer a respected, intelligent and efficient scientist has been found bludgeoned to death in his own lab. Commander Dalgliesh is called in to help investigate the murder and for the second time we meet Inspector John Massingham who has come to assist him. What they find is a host of witnesses and suspects who all seem to h
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Apr 25, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Mystery Fans
I'm afraid I found this rather lackluster despite James' reputation as a first-rate, literate mystery writer. It's the second book I've read by P.D. James, my first being the first Adam Dalgiesh mystery, Cover Her Face, which I found similarly unimpressive. I did think this mystery better constructed, one which, unlike that other one, held together with no holes I could find. But it's a rather unremarkable architecture, like a sturdy generic suburban house indistinguishable from others on the st ...more
Jun 26, 2011 rated it liked it
Very enjoyable read, but very focused on the mystery. Dalgliesh is a tough protagonist to enjoy sometimes, but his personal life (such as it is) comes through a little more here. James is playing the long game with this character, there's an assumption that we have plenty of time to get to know him (and six books in, she's not wrong) The suspects are interesting and the motives many. On a technical level, the story is very well-designed.

My trouble was getting invested in the story: The victim is
Apr 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to ^ by: My father
‘Death of an Expert Witness’ has long been one of my favourite novels; even inspiring me to seriously consider forensic pathology as a career. That balloon burst when after a spot of research I found out that I’d have to qualify on medicine first, before a further lengthy postgraduate studies in pathology. Whenever was I going to start earning? Feeble of me really; which just goes to show that I clearly wasn’t cut out for that career.

This book, in addition to being a very well-crafted story of m
Apr 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
The murder of Dr. Edwin Lorrimer at Hoggatt’s forensics laboratory offers a particularly difficult challenge for Commander Adam Dalgleish. After all, the killer could be one of Lorrimer’s colleagues, and that person would know how to destroy evidence and mislead investigators.

Death of an Expert Witness contains all of P.D. James’s usual trademarks, including haughty professionals who barely have time for Dalgleish’s questions and an isolated institution filled with secrets. For those who’ve foll
Sep 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
One of the longer of P. D. James' Commander Adam Dalgliesh mysteries (and #6 in the series), this well written and intricately plotted story set in a police crime lab in an old estate out in the fens will keep you guessing as usual but also this time one crucial clue is kept back from the reader after Dalgliesh has access to the information. The murder victim is a horrible individual, yet as we slowly find out what pain has brought him to act so insufferably we can understand why he was so unbea ...more
Sep 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
A forensic biologist is found dead in his lab. There is no shortage of suspects and motives, and Adam Dalgliesh is on the case.

This is the first Adam Dalgliesh mystery I've read by James and I'm happy to say that I've found a new mystery writer to follow. As I read this book, I was struck by the human element that James brings to the story. There is no unrealistic lone wolf detective (which is so common in many mystery novels) or maniacal killer. There are simply people with shortcomings and pas
The Bookish Hooker
I started out listening to the audio book version of Death of an Expert Witness. However, I quickly switched over to a hard copy borrowed from my local library. What a good choice! I fell in love with P.D. James when I read one of the later Dalgliesh mysteries. I quickly decided to start from the beginning of the series. I ALMOST changed my mind after the last couple books because I found them a little boring. After the first chapter in this one, I felt the same. I decided to see if the narrator ...more
Nov 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A short take:

I love the rhythm of a PD James mystery plot: the deliberate introduction of a varied cast and their multiple motivations, the sudden crime, the appearance of Dalgliesh and the gradual progression of the investigation. Dalgliesh ruminates that a police investigation lays bare the lives of the people who are touched by a homicide, and this fact motivates much of the story. I very much like PD James' style and her protagonist.

More thoughts:

It occurs to me that the mystery genre can be
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Play Book Tag: Death of an Expert Witness book 6 of Inspector Dalgliesh series by P.D. James ★★★ 3 8 May 21, 2016 06:52PM  
Please combine 1 6 Aug 17, 2015 11:05PM  
  • A Killing Kindness (Dalziel & Pascoe, #6)
  • In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner (Inspector Lynley, #10)
  • The Way Through The Woods (Inspector Morse, #10)
  • Final Curtain (Roderick Alleyn, #14)
  • Murder Being Once Done (Inspector Wexford, #7)
  • The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (Lord Peter Wimsey, #5)
  • The Old Fox Deceiv'd (Richard Jury, #2)
P. D. James, byname of Phyllis Dorothy James White, Baroness James of Holland Park, (born August 3, 1920, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England—died November 27, 2014, Oxford), British mystery novelist best known for her fictional detective Adam Dalgliesh of Scotland Yard.

The daughter of a middle-grade civil servant, James grew up in the university town of Cambridge. Her formal education, however, ended at

Other books in the series

Adam Dalgliesh (1 - 10 of 14 books)
  • Cover Her Face (Adam Dalgliesh #1)
  • A Mind to Murder (Adam Dalgliesh #2)
  • Unnatural Causes (Adam Dalgliesh #3)
  • Shroud for a Nightingale (Adam Dalgliesh #4)
  • The Black Tower (Adam Dalgliesh #5)
  • A Taste for Death (Adam Dalgliesh, #7)
  • Devices and Desires (Adam Dalgliesh #8)
  • Original Sin (Adam Dalgliesh #9)
  • A Certain Justice (Adam Dalgliesh, #10)
  • Death in Holy Orders (Adam Dalgliesh, #11)
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