The Black Tower

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The Black Tower
First edition
Author P. D. James
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Series Adam Dalgliesh #5
Genre Crime, Mystery novel
Publisher Faber and Faber
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Preceded by Shroud for a Nightingale
Followed by Death of an Expert Witness

The Black Tower is an Adam Dalgliesh novel by P.D. James, published in 1975. This synopsis is taken from the back cover of a paperback edition. (ISBN 978-0-7432-1961-7).

Just recovered from a grave illness, Commander Adam Dalgliesh receives a call for advice from the elderly chaplain at Toynton Grange, an isolated nursing home on the coast of England. By the time Dalgliesh arrives, it is only to discover that his friend Father Baddeley has mysteriously died, as has one of the patients.

As the bodies begin to pile up, Dalgliesh once again finds his own life at risk as he determines to get the truth behind his friend's death and unmask the terrible evil at the heart of Toynton Grange.

It was produced for television by Anglia Television (now ITV Anglia) and released in the United Kingdom in 1985 as a mini-series with Roy Marsden in the role of Dalgliesh. The main filming location was Clavell Tower in Kimmeridge Bay, Swanage, Dorset.[1]


Adam Dalgliesh arrives at Toynton Grange to be confronted by 2 deaths, one supposedly a suicide, the other a heart attack. However each of the deaths raises questions about whether they are in fact natural. As the book progresses 2 more deaths occur again one a suicide that many people feel is unlikely, the other an unexpected death that requires the coroner to become involved.

It is only in the final chapters that Adam Dalgleish realises that the innocent care home is in fact the centre of a drug smuggling operation and that all the deaths are murders carried out to prevent the police finding the truth.

In the final scene Adam Dalgliesh fights for his life against an assailant who is at the centre of the drug smuggling operation. He finds that this adventure leaves him with an appreciation of life and a desire to return to police work.

Prizes and awards[edit]

  • 1975 CRA Macallan Silver Dagger for Fiction.