Cover Her Face by P.D. James

Originally published in July 2005, on my original 52 Books blog.

Such a gorgeous cover!
When a conniving and secretive young housemaid at the Maxie mansion is murdered, the local constable immediately calls in the Scotland Yard. The Yard’s representative is Chief Inspector Adam Dalgliesh, who goes about his job of investigating and interviewing suspects and witnesses, in a thorough, calm and apparently unemotional manner. He uncovers seething emotions, hatred and passions that bubble just under the surface, and finds that most of the people who were at the mansion the night of the murder had good reason to dislike or even hate the murdered woman.

This, the first of P.D. James’ popular Chief Inspector Dalgliesh books, is a rather Christiesque story. Dalgliesh uses Hercule Poirot’s preferred method of gathering together the suspects to unveil the killer, and the story is a country manor mystery in the Golden Age style, as so many of Agatha Christie’s books were.
The characters of the main witnesses and suspects are developed in depth before the crime takes place, only the victim’s full character is left to be uncovered as the story progresses. Dalgliesh is very much in the background all the time, and it is his implied rather than actual presence that drives much of the latter part of the story.

Roy Marsden as Dalgliesh
Just as I kept seeing George Baker in my mind when reading the Inspector Wexford book I reviewed recently, I pictured Roy Marsden, who played Dalgliesh on TV, in my head whenever Dalgliesh was mentioned. This is the unfortunate thing about knowing a character from the screen before ever reading about them - you find it difficult to separate the on-screen representation from the character on the page. Not that it mattered, Marsden was the perfect choice to play Dalgliesh.

Rating: Another good beginning to a mystery series that I plan to pursue further. 3+ stars.


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