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The Skull Beneath the Skin by P. D. James

The Skull Beneath the Skin (1982)

by P. D. James

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Cordelia Gray (2)

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1,576214,633 (3.62)40



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Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
Never really grabbed me, very slow and without the depth of character or detailed tension that Dalgliegsh manages. Starting a series in the 2nd book probably isn't ideal, but I really don't feel there was any stretch of Cordelia that came from missing details in the first.

She gets a real client (possibly her first) and is called away from her London agency to a remote island on the south coast. Here she's supposed to be body-guarding a semi-famous actress who's playing the lead role in an almost am-dram performance. However she's been receiving death threats and so her husband is concerned these will effect her performance. None of it really makes any sense, none of the characters are in any way believable. The late 70s? setting doesn't help, as the lack of technology just seems faintly ridiculous.

What little plot there is, (and lack of deduction by cordelia) is further diluted by long segments of general angst and moaning without any due cause. The final quarter is almost interesting as everything finally gets revealed but not worth the previous 300 pages to get there. ( )
  reading_fox | Aug 11, 2016 |
The problem with the English manor house murder mysteries I've read recently is that all of the characters, not just the corpse, are varying degrees of irritating and appalling. This was a slog to read. P.D. James has a way with words, so it was at least a well-written slog that increased my vocabulary. But... bah. ( )
  ewillse | Jan 18, 2016 |
Much better than the previous 2 P. D. James books (Black Tower and Death of an Expert Witness). Structurally complex & satisfying, good character development, plot twists.
Read Samoa Dec 2003 ( )
  mbmackay | Nov 28, 2015 |
This was a re-read, and I was surprised how tedious it was. Not up to her usual standard, very contrived plot. ( )
  mlfhlibrarian | Oct 15, 2015 |
This was a very pleasant listening because it wasn't a reading by one person, it was like a theatre with different actors. Secondly, the plot itself was very gripping and diverting there was no second of boredom. Thirdly, the whole story takes place on a small island and is therefore manageable. Fourthly, even though I had the feeling who was the evil one it let me guess a very long time with all the turns and twists. ( )
  Ameise1 | Nov 4, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
P. D. Jamesprimary authorall editionscalculated
Greta ScacchiNarratormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mainardi, RiccardoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Webster was much possessed by death
And saw the skull beneath the skin;
And breastless creatures under ground
Leaned backward with a lipless grin.

Daffodil bulbs instead of balls
Stared from the sockets of the eyes!
He knew that thought clings round dead limbs
Tightening its lusts and luxuries.
from T.S. Eliot, 'Whispers of Immortality'
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There could be no doubt about it, the name-plate was crooked.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743219562, Paperback)

Private detective Cordelia Gray is invited to the sunlit island of Courcy to protect the vainly beautiful actress Clarissa Lisle from veiled threats on her life. Within the rose red walls of a fairy-tale castle, she finds the stage is set for death.

"Richly intricate and literate," James's second Cordelia Gray mystery "shows James at the height of her storytelling powers" (San Francisco Chronicle).

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:41 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Hired as a bodyguard to faded actress Clarissa Lisle, the recent recipient of numerous death threats, Cordelia Gray accompanies the actress to an island castle, whose owner collects funeral paraphernalia.

» see all 7 descriptions

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Average: (3.62)
1 4
1.5 2
2 17
2.5 2
3 82
3.5 22
4 80
4.5 19
5 36

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