The Murder Room

The Murder Room is a 2003 detective novel and the 12th in the Adam Dalgliesh series by P. D. James. It takes place in London, particularly the Dupayne Museum on the edge of Hampstead Heath in the London Borough of Camden.

The Murder Room
First edition
AuthorP. D. James
CountryUnited Kingdom
SeriesAdam Dalgliesh #12
GenreCrime, Mystery
PublisherFaber & Faber
Publication date
9 November 2003
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback)
Preceded byDeath in Holy Orders 
Followed byThe Lighthouse 


The Dupayne Museum is an eclectic collection of English memorabilia from the period between World War I and World War II. The murder room of the title refers to a room displaying relics of murders that occurred during this period. The Dupayne Museum is the property of three siblings, who are in the midst of a family row over whether or not to renew the lease on the building that houses the museum. When Neville Dupayne is killed in a manner mirroring one of the murders displayed in the Murder Room, Commander Dalgliesh is called in to investigate.

Emma Lavenham, a character from Death in Holy Orders, becomes important in this novel as a romance develops between her and Commander Dalgliesh. The novel ends with a love letter from Dalgliesh to Lavenham, in which he asks her to marry him. She accepts his proposal.


In a 2003 book review for The New York Times, Patricia T. O'Connor called the book "strikingly similar to James's previous mystery, Death in Holy Orders.. But this time something new has been added. Dalgliesh has a serious love interest", and wrote "This is a very busy mystery, full of traffic jams and ringing cellphones—[James] still manages to preserve the element of old-fashioned, hair-raising suspense."[1] Kirkus Reviews wrote: "Despite a plot less ineluctable than her best (Death in Holy Orders, 2001, etc.), James creates another teeming world in which murder is only the symptom of a more pervasive mortality."[2]


The BBC adapted the book for a two-part, three-hour TV production released in 2004, starring Martin Shaw as Dalgliesh and Janie Dee as Lavenham. The production was released on DVD in the U.S. in October 2005.


  1. O'Connor, Patricia T. (December 7, 2003). "Grisly Pictures From an Institution". New York Times. New York. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
  2. "The Murder Room". Kirkus Reviews. 18 November 2003.
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