He was alone; that too was fortuitous. There had been no smoking at the meeting but the room had seemed musty with spent breath and now he took pleasure in breathing fresh air, however briefly.
It was a blustery day but unseasonably mild. The bunched clouds were tumbling across a sky of translucent blue and he could have imagined that this was spring except for the autumnal sea-tang of the river -- surely half imagined -- and the keenness of the buffeting wind as he came out of the station. Seconds later he saw Conrad Ackroyd standing on the kerb at the corner of Dacre Street and glancing from left to right with that air of mingled anxiety and hope typical of a man waiting to hail a taxi.
Almost immediately Ackroyd saw him and came towards him, both arms outstretched, his face beaming under a wide-brimmed hat. Few people were unwilling to see Conrad Ackroyd.
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His perpetual good humour, his interest in the minutiae of life, his love of gossip and above all his apparent agelessness were reassuring. He looked exactly the same now as he had when Dalgliesh and he had first met decades earlier. It was difficult to think of Ackroyd succumbing to serious illness or facing personal tragedy, while the news that he had died would have seemed to his friends a reversal of the natural order.
Perhaps, thought Dalgliesh, that was the secret of his popularity; he gave his friends the comforting illusion that fate was beneficent. As always, he was dressed with an endearing eccentricity. The fedora hat was worn at a rakish angle, the stout little body was encased in a plaid tweed cloak patterned in purple and green.
He was the only man Dalgliesh knew who wore spats. He was wearing them now. Too intimidating, my dear. He comes to London once a year and always stays there.
They know him and are very tolerant. And was Ackroyd referring to the hotel, the Cathedral, or both? I want to spend a couple of hours at the Dupayne Museum in Hampstead.
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Why not join me? You know the Dupayne of course? Dedicated to the inter-war years, — Small but comprehensive. First editions and some holographs and, of course, the inter-war poets. Do come. We can drive. Our doctor retired last month. After twenty years together it was a sad parting. Still, his successor seems to understand our constitutions and it might be as well to have a younger man. Physically they could hardly have been more different.
Conrad was plump, short and dark with inquisitive bright eyes and moved as sprightly as a dancer on small nimble feet. Nellie was at least three inches taller, pale-skinned and flat-chested, and wore her fading blonde hair curled in plaits on each side of her head like earphones. Her collection of Angela Brazils was regarded as unique.
Conrad still owned and edited The Paternoster Review , notable for the virulence of its unsigned reviews and articles. In private life he was the kindest of Jekylls, in his editorial role an unrepentant Hyde. A number of his friends whose wilfully overburdened lives inhibited the enjoyment of all but necessary pleasures somehow found time to take afternoon tea with the Ackroyds in their neat Edwardian villa in Swiss Cottage with its comfortable sitting-room and atmosphere of timeless indulgence.
Dalgliesh was occasionally among them. The meal was a nostalgic and unhurried ritual. The delicate cups with their handles aligned, the thin brown bread and butter, bite-size cucumber sandwiches and homemade sponge and fruit cakes made their expected appearance, brought in by an elderly maid who would have been a gift to a casting agent recruiting actors for an Edwardian soap opera.
To older visitors the tea brought back memories of a more leisurely age and, to all, the temporary illusion that the dangerous world was as susceptible as was this domesticity to order, reason, comfort and peace.
To spend the early evening gossiping with the Ackroyds would, today, be unduly self-indulgent. Book One is dedicated to introducing a wide array of characters, all of whom are possible suspects in the murder of Neville Dupayne. Judging from the presentation of characters here, who seems most likely to be the killer, and why?
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What are the implications of this joke for the novel to follow? What other coincidences does James introduce either to complicate or resolve the plot? How is the plot revealed? How does James manipulate pacing to maximum effect? Which are the most suspenseful moments? To what extent do these families represent the ills of contemporary society? Or are they simply examples of unsentimental realism? Tally Clutton clearly has a motive for murder. How seriously is she considered a suspect by Dalgliesh and his team?
Is her near-death the climax of the plot? As the plot proceeds, is it possible to guess or deduce the killer? If so, at what point is it possible, and on what grounds? James is unusually sensitive to the difficulties of finding love, particularly for women.
How accurately does the conversation between Emma and her friend Clara reflect these difficulties [pp. In The Murder Room , it seems that the contemporary world, with its cell phones, traffic jams, and so on, is unsatisfactory and even dangerous.
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In what ways does Adam Dalgliesh attempt to procure comfort and peace for himself? How does he react to the stress of his profession, and does he long for another kind of life? Neville Dupayne wants to close the museum because he feels strongly that people are too obsessed with the past, and therefore they neglect the problems of the present [pp. Is Muriel Godby obsessed with the past? Emma remembers walking with her nurse to a war memorial [p.carbeschtretli.tk
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What larger point is James making about the two world wars and their impact on English life? This was murder, the unique crime. Is James suggesting that something about murder is particularly disturbing and provocative? Customer Reviews Average Review. See All Customer Reviews. Shop Books. Add to Wishlist.