Baroness James deserves great credit for coming up with this most unusual and interesting novel. Her detective, private investigator Cordelia Grey, is a landmark in the history of female detective fiction. The clever way that Ms. James connects this unlikely operative to the mighty Adam Dalgliesh adds great insight into both characters. The story itself is full of the unexpected . . . while maintaining touch with the ordinary. The combination is enough to keep you misdirected and fascinated until the very end.
I recently decided to reread the book to see if it still ranks up there as one of my favorite detective novels . . . and came away even more impressed than ever.
Cordelia Gray is a young woman learning her investigatory trade when her partner, Bernie Pryde, cuts his life short. Bernie has set up matters to give her as good a chance as possible to prosper in sole detection, including leaving her an unregistered gun. But will she have any clients?
It's a relief when a prospective client shows up looking for Bernie and takes Cordelia back for an interview with the famous father of Mark Callender, who recently killed himself. What father wouldn't want to know why? Cordelia in short order finds herself off on a five pounds a day assignment.
As she tracks backwards through the last days of Mark Callender, Cordelia finds that she likes him and wants to do right by his memory. Using the lessons that Bernie taught her, that he, in turn, learned from Dalgliesh, Cordelia soon has her suspicions about the suicide. Before long, she's being threatened as well.
What's it all about?
Bring a big imagination, grab a very comfy chair, turn on a good reading light and settle down for a treat!