The mystery elements in The Murder Room are fairly predictable and even a bit stagey — it has parts labelled "The People and the Place", "The First Victim", "The Second Victim", and "The Third Victim". If it lacks the drive of a thriller, however, it is never the least bit dull; the interest is in the characters, subplots and setting.
The strands within the police team — Dalgliesh's romantic entanglement with an Oxford academic, some class friction between Piers and new team member Benton-Smith, and Kate Miskin's psychological observations — remain peripheral. It is the broad range of non-series characters that carry the novel, and one of them that gives it a centre. The Museum itself, nestled on the edge of Hampstead Heath, is also a fascinating creation: James brings to life its contents, which include a room devoted to high profile murders from which the title comes, but also its operation and setting and the interwar years that are its subject.
The Murder Room is a classical murder mystery and vintage P.D. James.