Cover Her Face (Adam Dalgliesh Series #1)

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Overview

The first in the series of scintillating mysteries to feature cunning Scotland Yard detective, Adam Dalgliesh from P.D. James, the bestselling author hailed by People magazine as “the greatest living mystery writer.”

Sally Jupp was a sly and sensuous young woman who used her body and her brains to make her way up the social ladder. Now she lies across her bed with dark bruises from a strangler’s fingers forever marring her lily-white throat. Someone has decided that the wages of...

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Cover Her Face (Adam Dalgliesh Series #1)

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Overview

The first in the series of scintillating mysteries to feature cunning Scotland Yard detective, Adam Dalgliesh from P.D. James, the bestselling author hailed by People magazine as “the greatest living mystery writer.”

Sally Jupp was a sly and sensuous young woman who used her body and her brains to make her way up the social ladder. Now she lies across her bed with dark bruises from a strangler’s fingers forever marring her lily-white throat. Someone has decided that the wages of sin should be death...and it is up to Chief Inspector Adam Dalgliesh to find who that someone is.

Cover Her Face is P.D. James’ delightful debut novel, an ingeniously plotted mystery that immediately placed her among the masters of suspense.

When a sly and sensuous young woman who had used her body and her brains to climb the social ladder is murdered by someone who had clearly decided that the wages of sin should be death, it falls to Inspector Adam Dalgliesh to find out who the killer is.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743219570
  • Publisher: Touchstone
  • Publication date: 5/28/2001
  • Series: Adam Dalgliesh Series , #1
  • Edition description: 1 SCRIBNER
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 261,154
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

P. D. James

P.D. James is the author of twenty previous books, most of which have been filmed and broadcast on television in the United States and other countries. She spent thirty years in various departments of the British Civil Service, including the Police and Criminal Law Departments of Great Britain's Home Office. She has served as a magistrate and as a governor of the BBC. In 2000 she celebrated her eightieth birthday and published her autobiography, Time to Be in Earnest. The recipient of many prizes and honors, she was created Baroness James of Holland Park in 1991 and was inducted into the International Crime Writing Hall of Fame in 2008. She lives in London and Oxford.

Biography

Few writers have left so indelible an impression on crime fiction as P. D. (Phyllis Dorothy) James, an author whose elegant, bestselling novels have found an appreciative audience among readers and critics alike. James's intricately plotted books are filled with macabre events and shocking twists and turns, yet they are so beautifully written and morally complex that they cannot be dismissed as mere murder mysteries...although, in James's view, there's nothing "mere" about mysteries!

In James's native Britain (home of Wilkie Collins, Graham Greene, and the redoubtable Agatha Christie), the mystery is a time-honored form that has never been considered inferior. James explained her feelings in a 1998 interview with Salon.com: "It isn't easy to make this division and say: That's genre fiction and it's useless, and this is the so-called straight novel and we take it seriously. Novels are either good novels or they're not good novels, and that is the dividing line for me."

Although she always wanted to be a novelist, James came to writing relatively late in life. Her formal schooling ended at 16, when she went to work to help out her cash-strapped parents. In 1941 she married a doctor assigned to the Royal Army Medical Corps. He returned from WWII with a severe mental illness that lasted until his death in 1964, necessitating that James become the family breadwinner. She worked in hospital administration and then in various departments of the British Civil Service until her retirement in 1979. (Her experience navigating the labyrinthine corridors of government bureaucracies has provided a believable backdrop for many of her books.)

James's first novel, Cover Her Face, was published in 1962. An immediate success, it introduced the first of her two longtime series protagonists -- Adam Dalgleish, a police inspector in Scotland Yard and a published poet. Her second recurring character, a young private detective named Cordelia Gray, debuted in 1972's An Unsuitable Job for a Woman. Both Dalgliesh and Cordelia went on to star in a string of international bestsellers.

James has only occasionally departed from her series, most notably for the standalone mystery Innocent Blood (1980) and the dystopian sci-fi classic Children of Men (1992), which was turned into an Oscar-nominated film. In 2000, she published a slender "fragment of autobiography" called A Time to Be Earnest, described by The New York Time Book Review as " deeply moving, and all too short."

Good To Know

  • In television mini-series that have aired in the U.S. on PBS, British actors Roy Marsden and Martin Shaw have portrayed Adam Dalgliesh and Helen Baxendale has starred as Cordelia Gray.

  • James explained the essence of a murder mystery in a 2004 essay for Britain's Guardian: "E. M. Forster has written, 'The king died and then the queen died is a story. The king died and the queen died of grief is a plot. The queen died and no one knew why until they discovered it was of grief is a mystery, a form capable of high development.' To that I would add: the queen died and everyone thought it was of grief until they discovered the puncture wound in her throat. That is a murder mystery and, in my view, it too is capable of high development. "

  • In 1983, James was awarded the OBE. In 1991 she was made a Life Peer (Baroness James of Holland Park).

  • Read More Show Less
      1. Also Known As:
        Phyllis Dorothy James White (full name)
      2. Hometown:
        London, England
      1. Date of Birth:
        August 3, 1920
      2. Place of Birth:
        Oxford, England
      1. Education:
        Attended the Cambridge High School for Girls from 1931 to 1937 and later took evening classes in hospital administration

    Read an Excerpt

    1

    Exactly three months before the killing at Martingale Mrs Maxie gave a dinner-party. Years later, when the trial was a half-forgotten scandal and the headlines were yellowing on the newspaper lining of cupboard drawers, Eleanor Maxie looked back on that spring evening as the opening scene of tragedy. Memory, selective and perverse, invested what had been a perfectly ordinary dinner-party with an aura of foreboding and unease. It became, in retrospect, a ritual gathering under one roof of victim and suspects, a staged preliminary to murder. In fact not all the suspects had been present. Felix Hearne, for one, was not at Martingale that week-end. Yet, in her memory, he too sat at Mrs Maxie’s table, watching with amused, sardonic eyes the opening antics of the players.

    At the time, of course, the party was both ordinary and rather dull. Three of the guests, Dr Epps, the vicar and Miss Liddell, Warden of St Mary’s Refuge for Girls, had dined together too often to expect either novelty or stimulation from each other’s company. Catherine Bowers was unusually silent and Stephen Maxie and his sister, Deborah Riscoe, were obviously concealing with difficulty their irritation that Stephen’s first free week-end from the hospital for over a month should have coincided with a dinner-party. Mrs Maxie had just employed one of Miss Liddell’s unmarried mothers as house parlourmaid and the girl was waiting at table for the first time. But the air of constraint which burdened the meal could hardly have been caused by the occasional presence of Sally Jupp who placed the dishes in front of Mrs Maxie and removed the plates with a dextrous efficiency which Miss Liddell noted with complacent approval.

    It is probable that at least one of the guests was wholly happy. Bernard Hinks, the vicar of Chadfleet, was a bachelor, and any change from the nourishing but unpalatable meals produced by his housekeeping sister -- who was never herself tempted away from the vicarage to dine -- was a relief which left small room for the niceties of social intercourse. He was a gentle, sweet-faced man who looked older than his fifty-four years and who had a reputation for vagueness and timidity except on points of doctrine. Theology was his main, almost his sole, intellectual interest and if his parishioners could not always understand his sermons they were happy enough to accept this as sure evidence of their vicar’s erudition. It was, however, accepted in the village that you could get both advice and help from the vicarage and that, if the former were sometimes a little muddled, the latter could generally be relied upon.

    To Dr Charles Epps the dinner meant a first-class meal, a couple of charming women to talk to and a restful interlude from the trivialities of a country practice. He was a widower who had lived in Chadfleet for thirty years and knew most of his patients well enough to predict with accuracy whether they would live or die. He believed that there was little any doctor could do to influence the decision, that there was wisdom in knowing when to die with the least inconvenience to others and distress to oneself and that much medical progress only prolonged life for a few uncomfortable months to the greater glory of the patient’s doctor. For all that, he had less stupidity and more skill than Stephen Maxie gave him credit for and few of his patients faced the inevitable before their time. He had attended Mrs Maxie at the births of both her children and was doctor and friend to the husband in so far as Simon Maxie’s bemused brain could any longer know or appreciate friendship. Now he sat at the Maxie table and forked up chicken soufflé with the air of a man who had earned his dinner and has no intention of being infected by other people’s moods.

    “So you’ve taken Sally Jupp and her baby, Eleanor?” Dr Epps was never inhibited from stating the obvious. “Nice young things both of them. Rather jolly for you to have a baby about the house again.”

    “Let us hope Martha agrees with you,” said Mrs Maxie dryly. “She needs help desperately, of course, but she’s very conservative. She may feel the situation more than she says.”

    “She’ll get over it. Moral scruples soon give way when it’s a case of another pair of hands at the kitchen sink.” Dr Epps dismissed Martha Bultitaft’s conscience with a wave of his podgy arm. “She’ll be eating out of the baby’s hand before long, anyway. Jimmy’s an appealing child whoever his father was.”

    At this point Miss Liddell felt that the voice of experience should be heard.

    “I don’t think, Doctor, that we should talk about the problem of these children too lightly. Naturally we must show Christian charity” -- here Miss Liddell gave a half bow in the direction of the vicar as if acknowledging the presence of another expert and apologizing for the intrusion into his field -- “but I can’t help feeling that society as a whole is getting too soft with these girls. The moral standards of the country will continue to fall if these children are to receive more consideration than those born in wedlock. And it’s happening already! There’s many a poor, respectable mother who doesn’t get half the fussing and attention which is lavished on some of these girls.”

    She looked around the table, flushed and began eating again vigorously. Well, what if they did all look surprised? It had needed saying. It was her place to say it. She glanced at the vicar as if enlisting his support but Mr Hinks, after his first puzzled glance at her, was concentrating on his dinner. Miss Liddell, baulked of an ally, thought irritably that the dear vicar was just a little greedy over his food! Suddenly she heard Stephen Maxie speaking.

    “These children are no different, surely, than any others except that we owe them more. I can’t see that their mothers are so remarkable either. After all, how many people accept in practice the moral code which they despise these girls for breaking?”

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    Table of Contents

    Read More Show Less

    First Chapter

    1

    Exactly three months before the killing at Martingale Mrs Maxie gave a dinner-party. Years later, when the trial was a half-forgotten scandal and the headlines were yellowing on the newspaper lining of cupboard drawers, Eleanor Maxie looked back on that spring evening as the opening scene of tragedy. Memory, selective and perverse, invested what had been a perfectly ordinary dinner-party with an aura of foreboding and unease. It became, in retrospect, a ritual gathering under one roof of victim and suspects, a staged preliminary to murder. In fact not all the suspects had been present. Felix Hearne, for one, was not at Martingale that week-end. Yet, in her memory, he too sat at Mrs Maxie's table, watching with amused, sardonic eyes the opening antics of the players.

    At the time, of course, the party was both ordinary and rather dull. Three of the guests, Dr Epps, the vicar and Miss Liddell, Warden of St Mary's Refuge for Girls, had dined together too often to expect either novelty or stimulation from each other's company. Catherine Bowers was unusually silent and Stephen Maxie and his sister, Deborah Riscoe, were obviously concealing with difficulty their irritation that Stephen's first free week-end from the hospital for over a month should have coincided with a dinner-party. Mrs Maxie had just employed one of Miss Liddell's unmarried mothers as house parlourmaid and the girl was waiting at table for the first time. But the air of constraint which burdened the meal could hardly have been caused by the occasional presence of Sally Jupp who placed the dishes in front of Mrs Maxie and removed the plates with a dextrous efficiency which Miss Liddell noted withcomplacent approval.

    It is probable that at least one of the guests was wholly happy. Bernard Hinks, the vicar of Chadfleet, was a bachelor, and any change from the nourishing but unpalatable meals produced by his housekeeping sister -- who was never herself tempted away from the vicarage to dine -- was a relief which left small room for the niceties of social intercourse. He was a gentle, sweet-faced man who looked older than his fifty-four years and who had a reputation for vagueness and timidity except on points of doctrine. Theology was his main, almost his sole, intellectual interest and if his parishioners could not always understand his sermons they were happy enough to accept this as sure evidence of their vicar's erudition. It was, however, accepted in the village that you could get both advice and help from the vicarage and that, if the former were sometimes a little muddled, the latter could generally be relied upon.

    To Dr Charles Epps the dinner meant a first-class meal, a couple of charming women to talk to and a restful interlude from the trivialities of a country practice. He was a widower who had lived in Chadfleet for thirty years and knew most of his patients well enough to predict with accuracy whether they would live or die. He believed that there was little any doctor could do to influence the decision, that there was wisdom in knowing when to die with the least inconvenience to others and distress to oneself and that much medical progress only prolonged life for a few uncomfortable months to the greater glory of the patient's doctor. For all that, he had less stupidity and more skill than Stephen Maxie gave him credit for and few of his patients faced the inevitable before their time. He had attended Mrs Maxie at the births of both her children and was doctor and friend to the husband in so far as Simon Maxie's bemused brain could any longer know or appreciate friendship. Now he sat at the Maxie table and forked up chicken soufflé with the air of a man who had earned his dinner and has no intention of being infected by other people's moods.

    "So you've taken Sally Jupp and her baby, Eleanor?" Dr Epps was never inhibited from stating the obvious. "Nice young things both of them. Rather jolly for you to have a baby about the house again."

    "Let us hope Martha agrees with you," said Mrs Maxie dryly. "She needs help desperately, of course, but she's very conservative. She may feel the situation more than she says."

    "She'll get over it. Moral scruples soon give way when it's a case of another pair of hands at the kitchen sink." Dr Epps dismissed Martha Bultitaft's conscience with a wave of his podgy arm. "She'll be eating out of the baby's hand before long, anyway. Jimmy's an appealing child whoever his father was."

    At this point Miss Liddell felt that the voice of experience should be heard.

    "I don't think, Doctor, that we should talk about the problem of these children too lightly. Naturally we must show Christian charity" -- here Miss Liddell gave a half bow in the direction of the vicar as if acknowledging the presence of another expert and apologizing for the intrusion into his field -- "but I can't help feeling that society as a whole is getting too soft with these girls. The moral standards of the country will continue to fall if these children are to receive more consideration than those born in wedlock. And it's happening already! There's many a poor, respectable mother who doesn't get half the fussing and attention which is lavished on some of these girls."

    She looked around the table, flushed and began eating again vigorously. Well, what if they did all look surprised? It had needed saying. It was her place to say it. She glanced at the vicar as if enlisting his support but Mr Hinks, after his first puzzled glance at her, was concentrating on his dinner. Miss Liddell, baulked of an ally, thought irritably that the dear vicar was just a little greedy over his food! Suddenly she heard Stephen Maxie speaking.

    "These children are no different, surely, than any others except that we owe them more. I can't see that their mothers are so remarkable either. After all, how many people accept in practice the moral code which they despise these girls for breaking?"

    Copyright© 2003 by P.D. James
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    Customer Reviews

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    Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
    • Anonymous

      Posted February 23, 2009

      Cover Her Face

      Wonderful detective writing. There is simply no one currently writing who can compare with P. D. James. I encourage anyone who tries even one of her books to read them all...each is as good as the next.

      3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Posted November 22, 2008

      more from this reviewer

      I Also Recommend:

      This book begs to be uncovered

      The great thing about PD Jame's mysteries is that it is possible for the reader to formulate a conclusion - it isn't some obscure solution that only the detective present could formulate - nor is it served on a silver platter.<BR/><BR/>The same is true for this elaborate story...

      3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted July 12, 2014

      Here forward

      Rivers gurgle forests thrive plains biomes wander.

      0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted July 4, 2014

      Highly recommend

      Very gripping story; many interesting characters; good plot. Somewhat predictable but many surprises along the way.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted June 15, 2012

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      Posted December 2, 2011

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      Posted November 29, 2009

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      Posted August 24, 2013

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      Posted January 8, 2010

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      Posted December 6, 2009

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