Cover her Face
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
Me: I’ve only read one PD James novel before and that was her ‘sequel’ to Pride & Prejudice titled Death Comes to Pemberley. I didn’t quite like that so was interested in her normal environment. This novel is her first and looking at some other reviews they all seem to say that she improves greatly with later works and that I should have read ones of those first which I found quite interesting. I imagine that could be said for many authors.
For me it was ok. It flowed well and read quite quickly. I kept reading Mrs Riscoes' voice as that of Lady Mary in Downton Abbey but that’s the style the book was written in; of a time when the great families were dying out but still desperately trying to cling onto past glories. The dead girl’s behaviour I found baffling. Despite explanations I never quite understood the game she had been playing with everyone but again some of it may be linked to the time and attitudes during the book was written.
My biggest bugbear was the constant switch of third person narratives. Swapping during each chapter is fine but in this books James often flip flops viewpoints each paragraph. It’s not for me but others may like the style.
I do like the old style detective novels though where a crime is solved by deduction and thinking rather than today’s reliance on technology so this fits quite nicely into that. I think I will do as other reviewers suggest and try one of her later works and see how she evolves.
This first novel by P. D. James I thought not as flawless as her later ones, in that her word-craft was less honed, and I felt her Chief Inspector Adam Dalgliesh made one or two faux pas he never would have done today. Nevertheless, the yarn is woven with her usual skill and complexity, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
I chose the Folio Society edition and that did give real pleasure. The illustrations are superb, and in my copy - in excellent condition despite being printed in 1982 - the print, paper, and binding are a joy.
I'm not the best judge of whodunits, as they don't usually grab me much, and I'm rubblsh at guessing the guilty person (when I saw The Mousetrap, I picked by turns every character except the right one!) However, I decided to have a shot at Cover her Face, having greatly enjoyed Children of Men.
This is the first in the Adam Dalgleish series, and (published in 1962) uses pre-Profumo morality as the premise for using unmarried mother Sally Jupp as the murderee. As the story progresses, we find just how deep the already not very still waters of Sally's life ran; before her sudden violent end, it becomes evident how she managed to run rings round her employers, the Maxie family of Martingale. The setting, in typical Christie fashion, is a country mansion, inhabited by a family seething with conflicts among themselves and with their friends and servants, conflicts which the murder brings to the surface. However, the story diverges from the usual pattern by telling different episodes from the viewpoint of different characters, the depiction of their thoughts and feelings adding to the number of false trails. Much of the investigation revolves around the puzzle that Sally, though she died of strangulation, was also drugged: why, and was the same person responsible for both acts? Further mystery is added by the fact that this is a "locked-door murder".
I had to check back for the full quotation, as it's a very long time since I read The Duchess of Malfi: "Cover her face. Mine eyes dazzle; she died young.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Just a hint of the Dalglish to be gloriously developed in later books and full of intrigue.Published 3 months ago by S B Gordon
I read this after reading PDJs obituary. To be honest, I thought the book, her first, rather pedestrian and really old fashioned; so not hugely inclined to read more of her... Read morePublished 6 months ago by wmp oxley
Superb story beautifully told. Kindle version marred by a (small) number of typos caused by scanning/ocr process.Published 6 months ago by Cosmo Baggins
Disappointed that I couldn't get into this book more. It just didn't grip me. PD James has such a good reputation that I will give her one more go in the hope I can discover a... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Happy Reader