Not too much to say about this one. I thought it was a solid mystery for the second book in the Adam Dalgliesh series. I just found myself getting bored after a while since it was really obvious who the murderer was (at least to me). There are some other secrets that are spilled, but other than a couple of major ones at the end, none of the rest had much to do with anything I thought. I do think the flow could have been tighter too. We just stayed too long with the suspects and I wanted to be walked through Dalgliesh’s brain as he figured out the guilty party. Too bad though that this one shows how Dalgliesh was off about who done it and why.
“A Mind to Murder” finds the administrative head of the Steen Psychiatric Clinic murdered. The woman, Miss Enid Bolam, was bludgeoned and then stabbed and left in the basement of the clinic. When the doctors and nurses find her it becomes apparent that whoever did the murder never left (the doors are locked) and it has to be one of their own who did it. Adam Dalgliesh is called up after sitting through a reception for his recent book of poetry (yeah I hard paused there too) and feels nothing but dread since he feels like the murderer is not done.
James walks us through Dalgliesh’s life since the first murder where we came across him. It’s been three years and Adam still thinks of Deborah (see “Cover Her Face”) but realizes that he’s not ready to start again with another woman. Adam works methodically through all of the suspects, and hits on someone fairly early that he doesn’t care for or trust. Just like “Cover Her Face” though we have a victim that a lot of people had a hard time liking and finding to be too black and white about things. However, unlike with “Cover Her Face” I thought James did a good job of showing us another side of Enid Bolam. She was a woman who liked flowers and children.
The other characters in this one started to feel a bit tiresome after a while, at least to me. We have Dr. Paul Steiner and Dr. James Baguley, both men with secrets. We also have Doctor Frederica Saxton’s story-line that also gave me hard pause too. I don’t even get the purpose of that whole thing except for Dalgliesh to have someone else speak to who has even more messed up views of marriage than he does. Enid’s cousin, Nurse Marion Bolam also worked at the clinic. There was a bigger cast of suspects to think on in this one, but I thought that James did a good job with developing them. For example, one of the porters, Peter Nagle we find out is an artist, and only working at the clinic for money. He’s supposedly very talented, but I find myself thinking he was creepy. When James reveals his relationship that he is having with someone there, we pull back another layer dealing with him.
The writing I thought was good, but honestly the flow was off. I think the book needed to be edited a bit tighter since we tended to wander around in some of the characters story-lines way too long. For example, the whole thing with Frederica was one of those story-lines.
The setting of this clinic also echoes some locked door mysteries a la Christie, though I have to say that this one wasn’t that intriguing. We are given some very blatant clues in the beginning of the book and through another character telling their roommate about something they overheard. After that I was in a hurry for Dalgliesh to get there already.
The ending though at one point made me worry that I had guessed wrong, but nope, instead we get information about something else and then jump over into the epilogue that takes place months later.