Cover Her Face was P.D. James’ first Adam Dalgliesh mystery novel. Dalgliesh is called to a country house to investigate the death of the family’s newest maid, Sally. Sally has recently graduated from a home for unwed mothers, so she also comes with an infant boy.
The Maxie family is led by mom Eleanor, dad is terminally ill and bedridden. Deborah, the divorced daughter, lives at home, and son Stephen is a doctor in London who comes down at weekends. The family maid, Martha, takes care of everyone, and does not like Sally at all. Also visiting is Catherine Bowers, a family friend who is in love with Stephen. So there you have most of the suspects. There are a couple of others, because that’s mandatory.
Stephen asks Sally to marry him, which she announces to the family one night after the church fete that was held on the house’s grounds. No one is pleased, of course. The next morning, Sally is dead – behind her locked bedroom door. Oh yes, a locked-room mystery. Sally was drugged and strangled, and everyone is a suspect.
Dalgliesh interviews everyone, pokes around Sally’s past life before she went to the unwed mothers’ home, and uncovers whodunnit. The story kept me guessing for a while, but there were a few tells about the culprit that (once I knew who really did it) stood out.
I’m a P.D. James fan, so of course I enjoyed this book. She definitely has a formula, but that doesn’t mean that her stories are predictable. James’ mysteries are always a fun read.