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Cover Her Face (1962)

by P. D. James

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Adam Dalgliesh (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,292873,929 (3.59)215
Headstrong and beautiful, the young housemaid Sally Jupp is put rudely in her place, strangled in her bed behind a bolted door. Coolly brilliant policeman Adam Dalgliesh of Scotland Yard must find her killer among a houseful of suspects, most of whom had very good reason to wish her ill. Cover Her Face is P. D. James's electric debut novel, an ingeniously plotted mystery that immediately placed her among the masters of suspense.… (more)
  1. 20
    A Judgement in Stone by Ruth Rendell (sarah-e)
    sarah-e: Similar atmosphere, but this one is a bit creepier and quite different in terms of plot.
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» See also 215 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 87 (next | show all)
This murder mystery, P.D. James’s debut novel, was published in 1962, during the height of Agatha Christie’s fame and it has a somewhat similar feel in that it is set in an English country estate. I only started reading Christie last year, so I cannot avoid making a comparison, and this novel did not measure up. Its convoluted and far-fetched complexities were implausible to me. I did not hate it despite those infirmities, so I made allowance for the fact that this was James’s first novel. There were glimpses of a good writer. I may try another, but this one disappointed me. ( )
  bschweiger | Feb 4, 2024 |
This was great comfort reading while I was sick, but I understand why it's James' least favorite novel. The ending is pretty unsatisfying. ( )
  raschneid | Dec 19, 2023 |
It was a little slow. I am not a huge fan of this style of mystery. More of a cozy hybrid mystery. Very slow pacing. Not sure if I will read the next one. ( )
  cdaley | Nov 2, 2023 |
Quick binge re-read of PD James' first published book. Interesting closed circle mystery set within the confines of a modest country house in the early 60s. There's a great deal of classism and snobbery amongst the main suspects, and James is always better at her rendering of the upper middle classes than the common people. Interesting to see the beginning of a change in attitude to "unmarried mothers" and rather shocking to discover that the "girl" in question is an adult of 22 (her apparent lack of agency suggested to me she was about 17). I enjoyed this book but there's always a curious feeling of distance in James's writing, a lack of warmth, or a clinical detachment which I find slightly uncomfortable. I'd not read this one for a long time and re-read after discovering its publication forced Agatha Christie to change the title of her last published Marple from "Cover her face" to "Sleeping Murder" - it fitted better with Christie's plot (though something of a spoiler). Also the cover of this edition (the bloodied telephone handset) has absolutely nothing to do with the plot. ( )
  Figgles | Jan 23, 2023 |
If this is typical PD James, then this is a case that the screen version is better than the books. This had unlikeable cliched characters, apart from the victim; and a huge give away clue early on. Disappointing. ( )
  Joe_Gargery | Sep 7, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 87 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
James, P. D.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dellaporta, PenelopeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Latvala, PirjoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Manchess, GregoryCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Müller, WolfdietrichTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Exactly three months before the killing at Martingale Mrs. Maxie gave a dinner-party.
Quotations
It's not that they sin less, but that they bear their sins more lightly.
'There was that Pullen boy', said Catherine. `You can't tell me that
there was nothing between them.' She saw Deborah wince at the solecism
Title source:
"Cover her face: mine eyes dazzle: she died young.”

The Duchess of Malfi
(4.2.252-6)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Headstrong and beautiful, the young housemaid Sally Jupp is put rudely in her place, strangled in her bed behind a bolted door. Coolly brilliant policeman Adam Dalgliesh of Scotland Yard must find her killer among a houseful of suspects, most of whom had very good reason to wish her ill. Cover Her Face is P. D. James's electric debut novel, an ingeniously plotted mystery that immediately placed her among the masters of suspense.

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