Shroud for a Nightingale Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Shroud for a Nightingale

As in all her other novels, James begins Shroud for a Nightingale by sketching out the setting – a district training school for nurses. Beneath is the mental setting – a walled-in, all-female atmosphere where sexual escapades and passions, however shrouded they may be, prevail. There is subservience of nurses to doctors, students to their teachers, of women to men.
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The first murder is that of a student nurse during a demonstration. Even as the cause of the death is still a point of discussion and speculations on whether it was an accident, suicide, murder or a practical joke-gone-wrong, are doing the rounds, another student is murdered. It's time for Adam Dalgliesh, James' tall, sullen, perceptive hero, to investigate.

The review of this Book prepared by Ramani Moses

    P.D. James relies heavily upon her own personal knowledge for this book, Shroud for a
Nightingale (James was a nurse during the War). Here, we find two student nurses dead
and the terror is just beginning! Set in the hospital nursing school of Nightingale House,
James gets set to explore quite a few themes besides terror and murder: deadly secrets,
sexual misbehavior, guilt, scandal. Enter Adam Dalgleish, James' poet Chief
Superintendent of Scotland Yard and is a man not to be fooled by (or with!) all the
colateral clues. Something is rotten in the state of the hospital and Dalgleish delights in the
pursuit. This is an early James--quite sound, quite lucid, quite exciting--and one not to be

The review of this Book prepared by Bill Hobbs

Chapter Analysis of Shroud for a Nightingale

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book Planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 70%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 20%How society works & physical descript. (people, objects, places) 10% Tone of story    -   Dry-cynical How difficult to spot villain?    -   Difficult, but some clues given    -   Challenging Time/era of story:    -   1960's-1970's Spying/Terrorism Thriller    -   Yes What % of story relates directly to the mystery, not the subplot?    -   80% Murder of certain profession?    -   doctors/patients Misc. Murder Plotlets    -   cooped up in spooky house Kind of investigator    -   police procedural, American    -   british mystery (I say!)    -   police procedural, British Kid or adult book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Any non-mystery subplot?    -   feelings of fear/loss/inadequacy Crime Thriller    -   Yes Crime plotlets:    -   seduction/blackmail Murder Mystery (killer unknown)    -   Yes General Crime (including known murderer)    -   Yes Who's the criminal enemy here?    -   finding a known killer

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   government investigator    -   police/lawman Age:    -   40's-50's Has special powers?    -   Yes Magical/mental powers of main character:    -   can read emotions    -   is very quick Ethnicity/Race    -   British


Europe    -   Yes European country:    -   England/UK Small town?    -   Yes Small town people:    -   hostile, like Gomer Pyle on steroids

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   moderately detailed references to deaths Explicit sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   impregnation/reproduction Unusual forms of death    -   poisoning Unusual form of death?    -   Yes Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog    -   significantly more descript than dialog

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P.D. James Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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