Cover Her Face (Adam Dalgliesh Series #1)

Cover Her Face (Adam Dalgliesh Series #1)

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by P. D. James
     
 

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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

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.

Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
“One of the finest, most absorbing craftsmen of the profession.”
Observer
“One of the most chilling crime writers around.”
The Sunday Times (London)
"The greatest contemporary writer of classic crime."
The Times (UK)
“A classic story of English rural murder.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780743219570
Publisher:
Touchstone
Publication date:
05/28/2001
Series:
Adam Dalgliesh Series, #1
Edition description:
1 SCRIBNER
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
115,346
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.60(d)

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?”

Meet the Author

Phyllis Dorothy James (Baroness James of Holland Park) was born in Oxford on 3 August 1920, the eldest of three children. She was educated at Cambridge Girls' High School but was not given the option of attending university. At sixteen, she followed in her father's footsteps and worked in a tax office in Ely. In 1940 she met Connor White, a young medical student. They married and moved to London, and after qualifying he was drafted into the Royal Army Hospital Corps, serving abroad before returning home mentally ill. With two young daughters to support, James worked as a clerk in the NHS for £5 a week and went to evening school to attain her hospital administration diploma. After qualifying she quickly moved up the civil service ladder. She also began writing - getting up at 5am and working at weekends to complete her first novel, Cover Her Face, which was published in 1963. The book was critically praised but didn't provide enough money to live on. The following year, her husband died. James continued working in the civil service, and in 1968 she took a job at the Home Office, where she was initially involved with forensic investigations and later moved to the criminal policy unit. These positions contributed to the strong factual detail for which her books are well known. She built up a following with a string of novels including A Mind to Murder (1963), Unnatural Causes (1967), Shroud for a Nightingale (1971) and An Unsuitable Job for a Woman (1972). But it was the American publication of her novel Innocent Blood, in 1980, that pushed her onto the bestseller lists and gave her the financial freedom to support herself solely through writing. Her later books include The Skull Beneath the Skin (1982), Devices and Desires (1989), Original Sin (1994), A Certain Justice (1997), Death in Holy Orders (2001), The Private Patient (2008) and Death Comes to Pemberley (2011). She did not, however, give up her interest in the public sphere. She served as a BBC governor, Booker Prize judge and chair of the literature panel of the Arts Council. In 1983, James was awarded an OBE, and in 1991 she was awarded her barony. She has also received a number of honorary university degrees, and was awarded the Silver Dagger three times from the British Crime Writers' Association - as well as the Diamond Dagger for lifetime achievement in 1987. In 1997 she was appointed Chairman of the Society of Authors, a post she held until 2013. She died in November 2014, aged 94.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
London, England
Date of Birth:
August 3, 1920
Place of Birth:
Oxford, England
Education:
Attended the Cambridge High School for Girls from 1931 to 1937 and later took evening classes in hospital administration

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Cover Her Face 4.2 out of 5 based on 2 ratings. 13 reviews.
Quiero_Que_Lo_Lea More than 1 year ago
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.

The same is true for this elaborate story...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
MerleF More than 1 year ago
Very gripping story; many interesting characters; good plot. Somewhat predictable but many surprises along the way.
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Anonymous 4 months ago
Tied to her bed naked with tears falling out of her eyes"hello"she says sadly