Skip to main content

Who wrote the Adam Dalgliesh mysteries?

TV tonight Bertie Carvel as DCI Adam Dalgliesh
(Image credit: Channel 5)

So, who wrote the Adam Dalgliesh Mysteries? The crime novel series was written by award-winning author P. D. James and they've been adapted again into a TV show, Dalgiesh, this time starring Bertie Carvel (the original starred Roy Marsden, while Martin Shaw also played the character).

The TV series has adapted the novels Shroud For A Nightingale, The Black Tower, and A Taste For Death out of the series.

The books follow grieving police detective Adam Dalgliesh, who is still distraught over his wife’s death as he solves strange murders and discovers buried secrets.

Who is P. D. James?

Born Phyllis Dorothy James, she used her experience working at the Home Office in the Forensic Science Department and the Criminal Law Department to help write her hit novels.

The Guardian dubbed her the “Queen of Crime” and the “grande dame of mystery".

Over the years, P. D. James was the recipient of many honours, including the National Arts Club Medal of Honor for Literature and the Crime Writers’ Association’s Diamond Dagger award for lifetime achievement in 1987. 

Roy Marsden, who famously played Dalgliesh on screen, once told the MailOnline about how much he marvelled her writing skill: “She used to write, better than anything else I’ve read in my life, a description of place. She'd have made the greatest travel writer if she turned her pen to it. 

"She could evoke the most extraordinary places, when you read her books it was that that you were drawn to, and out of that were these extraordinary characters.”

P. D. James passed away aged 94 in 2014, but her memory and talent will always be remembered through her series of ground-breaking novels and TV adaptations.

How many books are there in the Adam Dalgliesh Mysteries?

There are a whopping fourteen books in the series, all centred on sleuth Adam Dalgliesh as he works to solve murders and discover secrets. The first book of the series, Cover Her Face, was published in 1962 and focuses on Adam Dalgliesh investigating the suspicious murder of a young maid, whose family seem to have reasons to want her gone.

With over a dozen books published since then, we see Dalgliesh’s journey as he rises through the police ranks as the novels continue.

When were the Adam Dalgliesh Mysteries published?

The first novel Cover Her Face was published in 1962 and the last book titled The Private Patient was published in 2008. The final book sees Dalgliesh investigate a savage murder of an investigative journalist at a plastic surgery clinic, but soon another body shows up.

Grace Morris

Grace is a digital writer with WhatToWatch.com, where she writes series guides for must-watch shows and the latest TV news. She graduated from Anglia Ruskin University in 2020 with a degree in Writing and Film Studies, which only made her love for creative writing, film, and TV grow stronger.


Some of her favourite TV shows are Line of Duty, Fresh Meat, The Great British Bake Off, and Gogglebox. In her spare time, Grace likes to explore new places with her friends and family and, of course, watch and read about the latest films and TV series!