Analysis of Death of an Expert Witness

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Death of an expert witness by P.D James
English C

Background
Phyllis Dorothy James or more commonly referred to as P.D James was born in Oxford in 1920. James attended Cambridge High School for Girls. Her first published work titled Cover Her Face which she began writing in the mid 50s introduced the public to her most iconic character; investigator Adam Dagliesh. Dagliesh is a well-known character who is a reoccurring presence in a series of detective novels one of which I have had the pleasure of indulging in/reading, namely The Death of an expert witness.

Death of an Expert Witness
The novel was published 1977 receiving praise from an array of writers and readers. The story opens with scientists and experts in cases of violent deaths being summoned to the scene where a murder has taken place. The victim is a young woman who by the looks of it has been strangled and abandoned in a field. The storyline however does not revolve around the murder in question but is more of a subtle method to introduce the reader to the staff of the forensics laboratory before the murder which the story centres around has takes place/been committed. One is primarily introduced to the forensic pathologist of the Hoggatts Laboratory (located in East Anglia), Dr Kerrison. Kerrison is one morning rudely awoken by the insistent ringing of the phone, careful not to awaken his two young children Nell and William, he quietly leaves the house. In this passage we also become intimately acquainted with Dr. Kerrisons difficult private life as he is in the middle of a divorce and custody battle. We are also told that Kerrison believes that he has failed to attain anything in his life besides anxiety and uncertainty in a sign of blatant low assessed self-worth on the characters behalf. Thereon we are introduced to a second character; the newly appointed Director of the Forensic Science Lab, Dr. Howarth. These two characters seemingly harbouring a shared animosity and bitterness

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