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The Skull Beneath the Skin (Cordelia Gray Mystery) Paperback – 3 Jun 2010


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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (3 Jun. 2010)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0571253377
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571253371
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 142,660 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

Review

" A masterly version of the clue-and-alibi game. . . . Five star!" -- "The Guardian "" P.D. James pulls out all the stops ...combining the enclosed setting of the country-house murder with elements of the horror story; an overlay of lust; a collection of relics of Victorian murderers ...midnight apparitions; hairbreadth escapes." -- "New York Magazine" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

In The Skull Beneath the Skin, the second Cordelia Gray mystery from P.D. James, Cordelia is hired to protect a beautiful but neurotic actress and soon becomes embroiled in a case as dangerous to her life as it is mysterious.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 21 Jun. 2006
Format: Paperback
Many people like their mysteries well balanced: Great plot; wonderful characters; terrific character development; almost indecipherable mystery; not too much blood; and outstanding writing. If that's your goal, this book isn't the best choice for you.

But if you like your mysteries to be focused in creepy circumstances with deeply flawed characters, The Skull Beneath the Skin will probably serve your purposes quite well.

I have both read this book and listened to the Books on Tape unabridged version read by Penelope Dellaporta. I strongly prefer the recording, which better captures the book's mood.

This is the second and last (for more than 25 years so far) mystery featuring Cordelia Gray who starred in An Unsuitable Job for a Woman. Since that novel, Cordelia has carved out a living running the detective agency that her ex-partner Bernie established, which agency now specializes in recovering lost pets thanks to the help of two part-time employees from Cordelia's old typing agency.

Cordelia's still having a hard time making a go of the agency. She's putting up a new plaque (that's hung crookedly) when her prospective client arrives, the husband of the fading actress Clarissa Lisle. Clarissa had observed Cordelia concluding one of her pet detective forays and saw something undefined that she liked. As a result, Clarissa has sent her husband to hire Cordelia to protect Clarissa from receiving any more death threats while Clarissa tries to resurrect her career with an amateur production of The Duchess of Malfi on secluded Courcy Island.

Cordelia is soon being stone-walled by Clarissa . . . but does succeed in intercepting several nasty notes. Also Clarissa turns out to be a pretty self-centered, unpleasant woman.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on 7 April 2005
Format: Paperback
Now almost twenty-five years old, this mystery by James is a delightful entertainment, filled with plot twists and turns, over-the-top action, and characters who are so exaggerated that they might be considered caricatures. Cordelia Gray, a detective whose job is usually the finding of lost pets, is hired to guard egomaniacal actress Clarissa Lisle during the days leading up to her performance in The Duchess of Malfi. Always preoccupied with death, Clarissa has recently received threatening notes, leaving her hysterical on the eve of her performance.
Both Cordelia Gray and Clarissa Lisle are staying at Sir Ambrose Gorringe's Victorian castle, perched high on a remote island where Gorringe has restored the theater at which Clarissa will perform. A collector of morbid relics, including, most recently, the arm from a memorial statue of a dead child, Gorringe also delights in telling the island's history as a place where German POWs were interned.
When, despite precautions, Clarissa Lisle is, in fact, murdered-with the marble arm from the dead child's statue--the reader is presented with a typical "closed room" murder, the killer obviously one of a dozen or so people staying at the castle, each with a possible motive for killing Clarissa--the need of money for a business, blackmail, long-standing hatred, blame for the death of a child, humiliation, rejection. As the police (and Cordelia) investigate, the story of the island and the torture death of a German prisoner in a "cauldron" under the house, plays a role in the action.
As always, James's eerie setting furthers the mystery and enhances the suspense. The quirky and memorable characters are well drawn, but they often border on absurdity, and James's large cast and her use of stereotypes prevents significant character development.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Clunky and old fashioned even for the time it was written. Fairly clumsy plot and characters out of the 1930s. However James does write good English and that is always a pleasure.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 21 Jun. 2006
Format: Paperback
Many people like their mysteries well balanced: Great plot; wonderful characters; terrific character development; almost indecipherable mystery; not too much blood; and outstanding writing. If that's your goal, this book isn't the best choice for you.

But if you like your mysteries to be focused in creepy circumstances with deeply flawed characters, The Skull Beneath the Skin will probably serve your purposes quite well.

I have both read this book and listened to the Books on Tape unabridged version read by Penelope Dellaporta. I strongly prefer the recording, which better captures the book's mood.

This is the second and last (for more than 25 years so far) mystery featuring Cordelia Gray who starred in An Unsuitable Job for a Woman. Since that novel, Cordelia has carved out a living running the detective agency that her ex-partner Bernie established, which agency now specializes in recovering lost pets thanks to the help of two part-time employees from Cordelia's old typing agency.

Cordelia's still having a hard time making a go of the agency. She's putting up a new plaque (that's hung crookedly) when her prospective client arrives, the husband of the fading actress Clarissa Lisle. Clarissa had observed Cordelia concluding one of her pet detective forays and saw something undefined that she liked. As a result, Clarissa has sent her husband to hire Cordelia to protect Clarissa from receiving any more death threats while Clarissa tries to resurrect her career with an amateur production of The Duchess of Malfi on secluded Courcy Island.

Cordelia is soon being stone-walled by Clarissa . . . but does succeed in intercepting several nasty notes. Also Clarissa turns out to be a pretty self-centered, unpleasant woman.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
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