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Death in Holy Orders

death in holy orders, death in holy orders by p. d. james
Death in Holy Orders is a 2001 detective novel in the Adam Dalgliesh series by P D James


  • 1 Setting
  • 2 Plot
  • 3 Critical reception
  • 4 Dramatisation
  • 5 Cast
  • 6 References
  • 7 External links


The novel is mainly set in and around an Anglo-Catholic theological college, Saint Anselm's, on the windswept coast of East Anglia It provides an insight into the structure of the Church of England and its training of students, known as ordinands, for religious ministry


Dalgliesh visits Saint Anselm's in a semi-official capacity to follow up the death of a student some time previously as his father was not satisfied with the verdict Whilst there, a visiting archdeacon is murdered Dalgliesh is assigned the investigation, summoning DI Miskin and DI Tarrant from London to assist, as well as local officers Initial suspicion falls on one of the fathers who run and teach at the college, as the archdeacon was known to be recommending the closure of the college

Two more murders follow and, after all present have been questioned, several secrets become known - including the fact that one of the students is unknowingly the son of one of the lay lecturers and that, through his mother, he will inherit the property should it be closed and sold Forensic evidence clinches the case against the lecturer and he confesses The college is closed and the student inherits the proceeds

In this novel, Dalgliesh meets and begins a relationship with Dr Emma Lavenham, a visiting teacher from Cambridge

Critical reception

In a 2001 book review for The New York Times, Sarah Ferrell wrote "Even for P D James, the plot is complicated, and purists might complain that its resolution depends on the most Dickensian of coincidences Most of the rest of us will marvel that a story of such baroque intricacies can be resolved in any way at all, and will be dazzled by the way James keeps all her characters moving with only deliberate collisions" Kirkus Reviews compared the book to A Certain Justice and Original Sin, writing "except for an uncharacteristically dewy-eyed portrait of a Cambridge don, each suspect and subplot is handled with all the penetration you’d expect in an apotheosis of the triple-decker whodunit As in Original Sin 1995 and A Certain Justice 1997, James’s achievement is not to pin down individual guilt, but to show the place of crime and guilt and sin in a whole culture"


The novel was adapted for television in 2003 as a two-part BBC mini-series, and also released on DVD


opening credits, in order listed

  • Martin Shaw as poetic bespectacled forensic detective Adam Dalgliesh
  • Robert Hardy as Father Martin Petrie
  • Alan Howard as Father Sebastian Morell
  • Julia McKenzie as Margaret Munroe
  • Clive Wood as Archdeacon Matthew Crampton
  • Hugh Fraser as George Gregory
  • David Calder as Sir Alred Treeves
  • Janie Dee as Emma Lavenham
  • Jesse Spencer as Raphael Arbuthnot
  • Jeff Rawle as Father Peregrine Glover

closing credits, in order of appearance

  • Will Willoughby as Ronald Treeves
  • Tom Goodman-Hill as Eric Surtees
  • John Fortune as Commissioner Harkness
  • John Clegg as Father John Betterton
  • Teddie Thompson as Liz Crampton
  • James Curran as Parishioner
  • Alex Hassell as Peter Buckhurst
  • Freda Dowie as Agatha Betterton
  • Emma Rydal as Karen Surtees
  • Maggie McCarthy as Ruby Pilbeam
  • Jonathan Coy as Clive Stannard
  • Richard Huw as Dr George Manion
  • Roger Morlidge as Inspector Roger Yarborough


  1. ^ Ferrell, Sarah April 29, 2001 "Elegy in a Country Churchyard" New York Times New York Retrieved February 27, 2017 
  2. ^ "Death in Holy Orders" Kirkus Reviews 19 April 2001 

External links

  • Death in Holy Orders on IMDb

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Death in Holy Orders

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