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Cover Her Face Paperback – 20 May 2002

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Faber and Faber; New edition edition (20 May 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571204902
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571204908
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 1.6 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,318,569 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

P. D. James was born in Oxford in 1920 and educated at Cambridge High School for Girls. From 1949 to 1968 she worked in the National Health Service and subsequently in the Home Office, first in the Police Department and later in the Criminal Policy Department. All that experience has been used in her novels.

She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Royal Society of the Arts and has served as a Governor of the BBC, a member of the Arts Council, where she was Chairman of its Literary Advisory Panel, on the Board of the British Council and as a magistrate in Middlesex and London.

She has won awards for crime writing in Britain, America, Italy and Scandinavia, including the Mystery Writers of America Grandmaster Award. She has received honorary degrees from seven British universities, was awarded an OBE in 1983 and was created a life peer in 1991. In 1997 she was elected President of the Society of Authors.

She lives in London and Oxford and has two daughters, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Product Description


'The greatest contemporary writer of classic crime.' Peter Kemp, Sunday Times 'P. D. James is one of the national treasures of British fiction... Each new book gives pleasure not just for macabre crimes or ingenious solutions but its density of experience.' Malcolm Bradbury, Mail on Sunday 'Unlike so many crime writers, James still has the power to move, fascinate and astonish.' Independent 'James... manages to invest even a simple mystery novel with a depth and intelligence that few in her trade can match.' The Times

Book Description

Beautiful new paperback Faber Firsts edition to commemorate Faber's 80th Anniversary --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

72 of 75 people found the following review helpful By Gary F. Taylor on 15 Nov 2003
Format: Paperback
Sally Jupp is unexpectedly attractive--and an unwed mother in an era when such still carries considerable stigma. After a sterling record at a home for "fallen women," she finds work as a maid for the aristocratic but somewhat impoverished Maxie family, and once installed shows another aspect of her personality: a perverse pleasure in creating unpleasantness for virtually every one who crosses her path. The Maxie family is largely impervious to her machinations... but when Sally goes so far as to tantalize a proposal of marriage from the Maxie son, her game of troubling the water turns lethal, and Scotland Yard's Inspector Dalgliesh is on the job.
This 1962 effort was P.D. James' first novel, and at the time it drew enough praise to immediately place among the foremost mystery writers of the day. And indeed there is much to be said for it: the story is well-constructed, the characters well drawn, and the crime is appropriately mysterious; on the whole it is a fast and fun read. But not all P.D. James fans will be impressed. Although there is more than a hint of the distinctive style and convolutions James will bring to her later work, it borrows a great deal in construction from Agatha Christie and not a little from Dorothy Sayers in terms of literary style, and Inspector Dalgliesh is not as well developed here as he will eventually become.
On the whole, I recommend the novel--but I recommend it to established fans of P.D. James, who will be interested to see her working in the "classic English murder mystery" style and enjoy comparing this debut work to the author's later and more impressive work. First timers would do better to select one of the many novels that find James at the peak of her form--with DEATH OF AN EXPERT WITNESS or A TASTE FOR DEATH particularly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Victor HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on 14 Nov 2013
Format: Audio CD Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Published in 1962, this is PD James' debut novel, and the first to feature her most famous creation Adam Dalgleish.

The book is set in an almost Christie like atmosphere of a country house in a small community. The first part of the book sets up a series of tensions leading to the death of Sally Jupp, a single mother who works as a maid at the big house. Enter Dalgleish, charged with solving the crime. The book winds through a satisfying and intricate set of investigations, many times leading us up the garden path as to the identity of the murderer until the truth is revealed in a Poirot like denoument.

The book is on the whole excellent, though it is not without its faults. It is of it's time, and shows the tensions of the early sisxties between the sexual revolution and more old fashioned morals. James is as much interested in exploring attitudes as the crime. This aspect is interesting, but now feels a touch dated. Also, it leads to the major issue I have with the book - all the central characters are various shades of obnoxious, including the victim. I couldn't really form an attachment with any of the characters apart from Dalgleish. This always makes a book a bit of a slog for me.

Apart from that, this is an excellent book. The intricacies of the investigation and the explorations of human character are nicely done. One aspect I loved was the way in which Dalgleish is introduced. No big slab of exposition giving us his back story, he just appears in the tale and slowly aspects of his character are revealed to us throughout the rest of the book. It's an effective method of letting us slowly get to know the man rather than introducing us to the caractiture.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. Lindgren VINE VOICE on 16 Jan 2014
Format: Audio CD Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
P.D. James's first crime novel, unabridged, with a straight reading by Roy Marsden. It wasn't likely to be a failure was it? And it isn't. If you don't know the story, I won't give any spoilers, because it's excellent. Not the most convoluted of her work (these things are relative -read that as 'quite a complex story in the great scheme of things'), it drips atmosphere with well-judged characters, and is also downright unpleasant in places. Roy Marsden should need little introduction, though today isn't as well known as he perhaps deserves. An actor's actor. He's highly respected, for very good reason. He also has some history with this particular novel, since he was lead in its 1985 TV adaptation. Here, he's on top form. Simple, to the point, beautifully judged and paced. All in all, well worth acquiring.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 9 Feb 2006
Format: Paperback
The distinguished Adam Dalgliesh stories begin with Cover Her Face. Few will find this their favorite book in the series. I decided to read Cover Her Face again to provide perspective on P.D. James's latest, The Lighthouse. From that retrospective look, I came away even more impressed with The Lighthouse.
But I do recommend that you read Cover Her Face. Although it isn't going to be a favorite of yours, it will be good reading.
The book's main weakness is that the detailed development of the place and characters doesn't quite have rich enough material to work with.
The plot itself has some marvelous twists and turns that build around the character of a most unusual murder victim, Sally Jupp, a marginally acceptable servant in a wealthy home. The other interesting aspect of the story relates to several interesting variations on the locked room mystery subgenre.
In later stories in the series, Baroness James let her imagination run freer . . . with superb results.
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