Captain Tuttle’s #CBR5 Review #34 – Cover Her Face by P.D. James

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.

Reginadelmar’s #CBRV Review #20 The Lighthouse by PD James

This past month has been a tough on our household, losing one pet and almost losing the other. Oddly enough reading was not a comfort as it usually is, it was just difficult. I started one book but just couldn’t stay focused.  What better time to turn to an old standard: the British detective Adam Dalgliesh in P.D.James’ The Lighthouse.  The book was like reading a PBS Mystery episode, so very very English. This is the type of book that goes very well with a cup of tea.

Commander Dalgliesh should have been rather long in the tooth by the time this was written, having appeared in James’ books for over 40 years. Perhaps he has a picture of Dorian Gray tucked away in a closet of his flat. In this story he and his team are called to a fictional island off the Cornish coast. It is privately owned and is used solely as a retreat for distinguished visitors from England and other parts of Europe. The population of the island is no more than about 12 people. A guest was found hanging, and it is unclear whether the cause was suicide or murder.

The first several chapters introduce us to the victim and the other residents of the island at the time of the murder.  Not surprisingly the victim wasn’t very nice, so plenty of people had reason to dislike him, perhaps even kill him.  There are a few side stories as well: Commander Dalgliesh wonders if the lady in his life will agree to marry him, his subordinates vie for his approval in order that they might be promoted.

This book fits in what I would call “old school” detective fiction, a nice little “who done it” without too much blood and gore. Overall, it was a pleasant enough distraction during trying times.