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The two commonest types of crime writer write either "gritty urban life" style whodunits (like Dennis Lehane and Ian Rankin) or "country house" murders (like Agatha Christie). P.D. James (and this book) falls very much into the second category.

Like many of James's recent books the characters could be out of central casting at the "Stiff Upper Lip Character Agency." They focus on form, position and show and act in the way they're expected to act throughout the book.

I'm getting to the point where reading a book in which the characters "do what one is expected to do" grates horribly, and there's a lot of that in this book. Consequently I won't be reading any more of James's books for a while.

I you can put of with a boat load of "Stiff Upper Lip," you might like this book (which is about a woman who dies at a private clinic after some plastic surgery). If get your head round "Stiff Upper Lip" attitudes, with "terribly correct upstairs types" and "cor blimey wait staff," you might like this book. Otherwise I wouldn't bother reading it.

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