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Vilja Reads

I'm a student, so I don't have nearly as much time for leisure reading as I'd like. If I manage to read an entire course book instead of just the assigned chapters, I'll review that here, too.

Cover Her Face (Inspector Dalgliesh)

Cover Her Face - P.D. James

At a country house, the family is tired of waiting for their ailing husband and father to die. Each have their own dissatisfactions and secrets. Meanwhile, a new maid with a fatherless child and a penchant for causing trouble is not making it any easier for any of them. The situation culminates into murder, and Inspector Adam Dalgliesh is called in to investigate.


I found this work difficult to rate. On the plus side, it abides with those often quoted rules of writing detective fiction - showing, not telling (most of the time); setting up a puzzle and giving the reader all the clues to solve the mystery, while not making it too easy; and not mucking up the narrative with too much romance. It even has some of features I have particular preference for, such as not splitting the characters up into heroes and villains, but allowing them dimensions. Stephen is heartless but often well-meaning, Hearne is a war hero sick with the memory his past deeds, Mrs Riscoe is snobbish and affects detachment, but cares about other people more than she wants to. And so on. I can't deny that it's a quality piece of classic form detective fiction.


But I was not entertained. I couldn't like any of the characters, though I felt sympathy for desperate, unloved Catherine and the cruel, ambitious Sally. Furthermore, I had narrowed the possible suspects down to two by the novel's midpoint, and guessed the culprit soon after. 


I can't tell if you'll like this novel. Though I recognized the craftmanship behind it, I did not.