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An Unsuitable Job for A Woman by P.D. James

An Unsuitable Job for A Woman (original 1972; edition 2006)

by P.D. James

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1,921353,563 (3.72)63
Title:An Unsuitable Job for A Woman
Authors:P.D. James
Info:Faber and Faber (2006), Paperback, 240 pages
Collections:Reviewed, Read but unowned

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An Unsuitable Job for a Woman by P. D. James (1972)


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When Cordelia Gray’s boss at the Pryde Detective Agency dies, he leaves her the business… and an unregistered gun. And so begins ‘An Unsuitable Job for a Woman’ by PD James, with a female private detective who is a long way away from Adam Dalgliesh, James’s famous creation, but who has been trained by an ex-copper who worked for Dalgliesh. And so the tentacles of ‘the Super’ stretch to Cambridge where Cordelia Gray undertakes her first case.
She is not a female private detective in the busybodying, gossiping style of Miss Marple or Agatha Raisin, but a liberated, independent woman who is financially motivated to make a success of her business. Employed by a Cambridge scientist, Sir Ronald Callender, to discover why his son Mark dropped out of university and committed suicide soon after, Cordelia takes up lodging in the rundown gardener’s cottage where Mark died. So much is unclear. Mark left a stew uncooked and a garden fork stuck in half-dug earth. His friends feign friendliness to Cordelia but dance around her questions. Sir Ronald’s assistant/housekeeper is superior and unhelpful. The Marklands, who employed Mark in his last few weeks, are shadows on the edge of the story. Something is evidently not right and Cordelia is soon convinced Mark was murdered. But how can it be proved?
This is a satisfying read with plenty of twists, mysteries and unexplained behaviour. The Seventies college setting in Cambridge – student parties, punting on the Cam – felt authentic. And I did not guess the ending.
Disappointingly, PD James only wrote two Cordelia Gray novels, this in 1972 and ‘The Skull Beneath the Skin’ ten years later.
Read more of my book reviews at http://www.sandradanby.com/book-reviews-a-z/ ( )
  Sandradan1 | Apr 15, 2017 |
This book, written in the 1970s about Cordelia Gray, a PI, shows that while some things have changed for women and some things haven't, good detective works remains the same.


With her bag at her feet she sat down by the body. She said a brief convent-taught prayer to the God she wasn’t sure existed for the soul which Bernie had never believed he possessed and waited quietly for the police.
--P.D. James (An Unsuitable Job For a Woman p 215)
Perhaps it’s only when people are dead that we can safely show how much we cared about them. We know that it’s too late then for them to do anything about it.
-- P.D. James (An Unsuitable Job For a Woman p 246)
…love was as destructive as hate.
-- P.D. James (An Unsuitable Job For a Woman p 412) ( )
  nicolewbrown | Oct 30, 2016 |
My first PD James. Good prose, good character, but honestly, if I'm going to read a Brit mystery writer, I'd rather go with Agatha Christie. ( )
  AnnAnderson | Jun 25, 2016 |
Delightful P.D.James mystery, with all of the misleads, tangles and dark mystery! ( )
  CathyWoolbright | Apr 20, 2016 |
Cordelia Gray, age 22, shows up to work one morning to find her boss, Bernie Pryde, dead by suicide; he has chosen this over suffering through cancer. While she’s handling this sorrow and the details, she is hired to find out why Cambridge dropout Mark Callendar has killed himself. The man who hires her is his father, and it doesn’t take Cordelia long to realize that murder is the far more likely cause of Mark’s death.

The search Cordelia undertakes reveals surprises, twists, elements of danger and all that you’d want in a well written murder/suspense/mystery/thriller novel. True, it doesn’t rush through things at a breakneck speed designed to give one nightmares after staying up all night reading it, but it doesn’t need to do so. The writing is at once simple and well done; moving along at a clip that does speed up at times, naturally, or it would merely be a cozy mystery. Since it is written in the 1970s there are no cell phones or electronic tracking means, which is such a refreshing change. I like Cordelia and am strongly considering reading the next one. ( )
  Karin7 | Mar 25, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
P. D. Jamesprimary authorall editionscalculated
Capriolo, EttoreTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rantanen, AulisTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Jane and Peter who kindly allowed two of my characters to live at 57 Norwich Street.
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On the morning of Bernie Pryde's death - or it may have been the morning after, since Bernie died at his own convenience, nor did he think of the estimated time of his departure worth recording - Cordelia was caught in a breakdown of the Bakerloo Line outside Lambeth North and was half an hour late at the office.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743219554, Paperback)

Handsome Cambridge dropout Mark Callender died hanging by the neck with a faint trace of lipstick on his mouth. When the official verdict is suicide, his wealthy father hires fledgling private investigator Cordelia Gray to find out what led him to self-destruction. What she discovers instead is a twisting trail of secrets and sins, and the strong scent of murder.

An Unsuitable Job for a Woman introduces P. D. James's courageous but vulnerable young detective, Cordelia Gray, in a "top-rated puzzle of peril that holds you all the way" (The New York Times).

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:16 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Left alone by her partner's suicide, Cordelia Gray struggles to manage the private detective agency they once shared.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 9 descriptions

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