Review of Cover Her Face by P.D. James (1962) (Adam Dalgliesh Book 1)

Bottom line: I liked this story, although I would have preferred to get to know the detective better. A traditional murder mystery set in an English country house, it was a fun introduction to P.D. James.

Rating: Recommended


On the same day as the St Cedd’s church fete in the grounds of her home, Martingale, Mrs Maxie learns of her son Stephen’s engagement. By the next morning, her new parlourmaid, Sally Jupp, is dead. Detective Chief-Inspector Adam Dalgliesh investigates murder in the Elizabethan manor house.


This is P.D. James’s debut novel. It is a good example of a traditional murder mystery – a murder happens near the beginning of the story, people living in this house all seem to have had motives and means, and at the end, the detective gathers the household and explains how the clues led him/her to the murderer, who is —-!

I thought her detective was intriguing. You catch glimpses of what makes him interesting and effective as a detective, but you don’t spend a lot of time with him. I would have liked to see more of the story unfold from his point of view instead of some of the suspects. I’m hoping that the later books in the series will show more of his character.

The other elements of the mystery were well done – the suspects had enough depth to them that they were interesting as more than just Suspect A, Suspect B, etc. and the murder was one of those that seems more complicated than it is due to an unrelated factor which muddies the waters. One thing I particularly appreciated was that enough clues were presented for you to guess the murderer, and none of the clues seemed like they were shown with the sole intent to throw you off the track. I’m probably going to read more of her books, but given that I didn’t get a chance to become very attached to the detective, I won’t rush out to get them right away.

Available: E-book at iTunes and Barnes & Noble (didn’t see it as a Kindle e-book).  Available as a paperback at many book stores, including Barnes & Noble and Amazon for $10-$12.

What did you think? Did you like the book?


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