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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 475

In this novel, P. D. James features the Scotland Yard inspector Adam Dalgliesh the frequent protagonist of her crime novels. Dalgliesh is a memorable figure in this genre because he is the antithesis of the hard-boiled detective. In addition to being an astute, persistent detective, Dalgliesh is also a published poet. James shows that the sensitivity that goes into Dalgleish’s poetry actually makes him a better detective because it supports his insights into the human soul and psyche, which contribute to his solutions. Relentless in his pursuit of the killer, Dalgliesh nevertheless sometimes suffers from understanding the nature of evil. A tall, thin man in his forties, Dalgliesh grew up the son of a minister. A childless widower who lost his wife and baby in childbirth, he is now in a relationship with literature scholar Emma Lavenham.

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Kate Miskin and Piers Tarrant are Metropolitan police detectives who work on the case. Dalgliesh is their supervisor.

Most of the other characters are associated with the Dupayne Museum, of which the titular room is a part. The body of the murder victim in the case that Dalgliesh is investigating was found in that room. A private museum in a wooded area of London, its secluded location figures into the plot.

Three siblings of the Dupayne family are the museum’s trustees, according to the will of its founder, their late father. They have different attitudes toward operating the museum, which is a financial burden: keep it open or shut it down. Marcus and Caroline want the museum to stay open, but not necessarily for philanthropic reasons.

Caroline Dupayne is the assistant principal of a prestigious private school. She lives rent-free in a well-appointed apartment in the same building as the museum. Her interest in keeping it open, Dalgliesh discovers, stems largely from protecting her...

(The entire section contains 475 words.)

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