If you've never read the Adam Dalgliesh mystery novels by P.D. James, now is a great time to get familiar with the series. Acorn TV is currently adapting the series for television (more on the Dalgliesh TV adaptations HERE), and the new series will premiere in November 2021. To help you get started, we've included a list of all the Dalgliesh books in order, along with descriptions to make it easier to figure out which ones you've read.
P.D. James – or Phyllis Dorothy James, Baroness James of Holland Park, as she known in her “real” life – passed away in 2014 at the age of 94, so unless her estate grants rights to a modern author, we won't be seeing any new additions to this series.
If you'd like more insight into her influences and how she approaches writing, we strongly recommend checking out her non-fiction book, Talking About Detective Fiction. Few books about the craft of writing have been written by people so imminently qualified to speak on the subject.
All of P.D. James' Adam Dalgliesh Books in Order
The Adam Dalgliesh novels were published between 1962 and 2008, and while Dalgliesh is a Scotland Yard detective living in London, many books in the series are set elsewhere in the UK.
In addition to the books below, there are two Adam Dalgliesh short stories, both of which can be found in The Mistletoe Murder: And Other Short Stories. The book is a collection of her short works, and the Dalgliesh stories are titled “The Boxdale Inheritance” and “The 12 Clues of Christmas”.
Adam Dalgliesh Book 1 | Cover Her Face
Sally Jupp was a gorgeous young woman who used her body and cunning to climb the social ladder. Someone has decided to make her pay for her sins, and Chief Inspector Adam Dalgliesh is determined to find the culprit.
Adam Dalgliesh Book 2 | A Mind to Murder
When the administrative head of London's Steen Psychiatric Clinic is found dead with a chisel in her heart, all manner of secrets come out – obliterating the facility's distinguished reputation. Superintendent Adam Dalgliesh will find himself in the midst of drugs, deceit, and madness as he tries to find out the truth about what really happened.
Adam Dalgliesh Book 3 | Unnatural Causes
Maurice Seton spent his life concocting grisly deaths in the mystery novels he sold to millions. Still, nothing he wrote was ever quite so gruesome as his own murder. His body was found in a drifting dinghy, both his hands removed at the wrists. Adam Dalgliesh will have to find the culprit before he or she strikes again.
Adam Dalgliesh Book 4 | A Shroud for a Nightingale
Nightingale House is a school young ladies attend to learn nursing skills, but after a student plays patient in a demonstration, she's brutally murdered. Then, another student dies in mysterious circumstances. Adam Dalgliesh will have to figure out who's responsible before more students die.
Adam Dalgliesh Book 5 | The Black Tower
Newly recovered from a serious illness, Dalgliesh is called to the bedside of an elderly priest. Sadly, Father Baddeley is dead when he arrives. His gut tells him something's off, but his recent brush with death makes him wonder if he can trust his own judgment.
Adam Dalgliesh Book 6 | Death of an Expert Witness
In this volume, Dalgliesh is called to investigate the death of a brilliant forensic scientist who was found murdered in his own laboratory. Though talented and well-respected, the man was said to be intensely unpleasant – with no shortage of people who might have liked to see him dead.
Adam Dalgliesh Book 7 | A Taste for Death
In this case, Adam Dalgliesh faces a challenging puzzle. How did an upper-crust minister and neighbourhood tramp end up together, throats slit, in the quiet Little Vestry of St. Matthew's Church?
Adam Dalgliesh Book 8 | Devices & Desires
Commander Dalgliesh has just published a new book of his poems and he's decided to take a brief holiday in a remote area of the Norfolk coast, staying in the converted windmill left to him by his aunt. Unfortunately, there's a psychotic strangler on the loose, and the killer is getting closer to his little corner of the world with every murder.
Adam Dalgliesh Book 9 | Original Sin
Gerald Etienne, the brilliant and ruthless managing director of Peverell Press, has been murdered in the publishing house's offices. His death is bizarre and puzzling, but Dalgliesh feels it's only the beginning of a deeper mystery.
Adam Dalgliesh Book 10 | A Certain Justice
When distinguished lawyer Venetia Aldridge defends a young man accused of murdering his mother, she doesn't expect she'll pay for it with her life. As Dalgliesh investigates, murders continue, complicating the investigation and making everything more urgent.
Adam Dalgliesh Book 11 | Death in Holy Orders
As the son of a parson and a man who spent many happy summers along the East Anglian coast, Dalgliesh is the perfect detective to call upon when a young boy is found buried in the sand near a small theological college. His influential father demands justice, and the pursuit of it will lead Dalgliesh deep into the religious community.
Adam Dalgliesh Book 12 | The Murder Room
Well-acquainted with the Dupayne museum and its exhibits on the interwar years, Dalgliesh is surprised to be called in to investigate the killing of one of the family trustees. He soon learns the victim was planning to close the museum, giving clear motive to the staff and fellow trustees.
Adam Dalgliesh Book 13 | The Lighthouse
Off the coast of Cornwall, Combe Island is an idyllic retreat for the wealthy and powerful. That is, until one of the victims is found murdered, hanging from the lighthouse. Commander Adam Dalgliesh is called in to investigate, but with all sorts of turmoil in his personal and professional lives, he'll find it difficult to maintain the level of focus needed to solve the case.
Adam Dalgliesh Book 14 | The Private Patient
In this final case, Dalgliesh's investigations take him to Cherwell Manor in Dorset, where an investigative journalist named Rhoda Gradwyn has been murdered. Before he can wrap up the case, a second murder adds to the complexities and urgency of the case.
Have You Read the Adam Dalgliesh Novels?
Did you complete the series in order? What did you think? And will you be tuning in for the latest TV adaptation on Acorn TV?
Save it to Pinterest!