From Publishers Weekly
In her latest Commander Adam Dalgliesh detective novel, James subtly deepens the complexities of his personality, making him an ever more credible protagonist. When two bodies are discovered with their throats slashed in a London church, Dalgleish is called upon to solve the case. One victim is Sir Paul Berowne, former Minister of the Crown; the other is a tramp accustomed to sleeping in the church vestibule. It seems that these deaths may be tied to those of two young women who have recently been employed in the Berowne household. Dalgleish feels an unusual empathy in this case; he had known Berowne and sensed several parallels in their lives. This sense of compassion is one of the things that distinguishes James's novels. In delving into what she calls "the fascination of character," she makes each actor in the drama memorable. The characters here read Trollope and Philip Larkin; they are knowledgeable about architecture and art. Yet James's civilized digressions do not detract from the suspense of the plot. She does not employ horrific details for shock effect, but her step-by-step description of procedural details, particularly those of forensic medicine, totally immerse readers in the investigation. Literate readers who have not yet made Adam Dalgliesh's acquaintance should rush to the bookstores for this one. 100,000 first printing; BOMC main selection; author tour. (November 1
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
When the quiet Little Vestry of St. Matthew's Church becomes the blood-soaked scene of a double murder, Scotland Yard Commander Adam Dalgliesh faces an intriguing conundrum: How did an upper-crust Minister come to lie, slit throat to slit throat, next to a neighborhood derelict of the lowest order? Challenged with the investigation of a crime that appears to have endless motives, Dalgliesh explores the sinister web spun around a half-burnt diary and a violet-eyed widow who is pregnant and full... read more
Murder Mystery and Great Writing, August 31, 2003 Reviewer: David Riley from Columbus, Ohio James has the greatest depth in her characters of any of the detective fiction writers that I have read. In A Taste for Death a tramp and a government minister are found in a church with their throats cut. Dalgleish knew the minister slightly and felt a strong connection with him at their meetings. As the case unfolds Dalgleish finds himself drawn in far more personally than he expected, which hampers his investigation to some extent. Apart from the mystery, this novel explores the remnants of the british class system as it crumbles, the old guard represented by Lady Ursula hanging on for grim death and Kate Miskin determined to sweep away all vestiges of her upbringing and create a new life. Neither character ultimately achieves their aim as nothing can remain unchanged, but as James aptly illustrates you also cannot just dismiss your past as though it did not take place. James develops each character brilliantly as the story unfolds from the lonely spinster Miss Wharton who discovers the bodies, to Kate Miskin a newy assigned assistant to Dalgleish who's complicated personal life becomes tragically caught up in the case. The book has been rated by other reviewers as both her best and one of her less noteworthy works. I found it superb and rate it up there with her best. Several reviewers also complain about the amount of detail the author goes into, in my opinion the detail is what brings the books to life, makes them believable and raises them above the mundane coffee table crime novel. James achieves so much more than a mere who dunnit in her work, as she explores her complex characters insecurities, hang ups and emotions. In addition she always explores some new facet of English society and leaves you with something to ponder long after the book is back on the shelf. I feel James's work compares favourably with any contemporary "serious novelist" I have read recently and recommend her whole heartedly.