This crime novel is the sixth in the Adam Dalgliesh series. Even though this story begins with a body in a clunch field, the main setting is Hoggatt´s, the Forensic Science Laboratory in the fen, the staff and all the people who are connected to this old institution one way or the other.
We meet the newly-appointed director, Maxim Howarth, self-confident and single but living together with his strong, independent sister (not unlike Alix and Alice Mair in Devices and Desires). Important staff members are laid-back, well-meaning Dr Middlemass and Dr Lorrimer, hated and despised by most of his colleagues, except young Brenda Pridmore, the enthusiastic receptionist. Dr Howarth´s secretary, Angela Foley and her friend, Stella Mawson also play important parts in this intricate mystery.
So this rather closed setting around the forensic lab is one of the really strong points of this novel. Well-drawn characters that I remember, not necessarily because they are likeable, but because they are so human, and as usual P.D. James has constructed a complex plot, worthy of Dalgliesh´s experience, which is not solved until the very last pages.