Basic Information : Synopsis : Characters : Thoughts : Evaluation : New Words : Good Quotes : References
Author: PD James
Publisher: Touchstone - Simon&Schuester
Read: December 28, 2017
Genre: History, Fiction, Mystery
Language Warning: None
Rated Overall: 3 ½ out of 5
Fiction-Tells a good story: 3 out of 5
Fiction-Character development: 5 out of 5
Synopsis (Caution: Spoiler Alert-Jump to Thoughts):
The story is told in nine numbered chapters. The story spends time developing who the characters are.through the first fifth of the book. But after the big annual village celebration/party/sale at the Maxie’s estate, all of the main people are resting, except the house staff. But Sally makes a stir when she announces that Stephen Maxie has asked her to marry him.
The next morning, Sally is found dead, strangled. Dalgiesh is called in to investigate. The rest of the book concerns the investigation. Dalgiesh questioning people, suspects questioning others. Until the final chapter when Dalgiesh calls a meeting of all of the suspects and lays out the evidence, slowly eliminating each suspect. That is except one. But before we get to know the murdered, we find out through the sudden entrance of Sally’s husband that she was married.
There is plenty of hints throughout the book to allow one to figure out who done it, or at least eliminate a lot of suspects. But other hints such as why did an unmarried girl have a trousseau? Who was in the barn arguing? Why did Sally receive a letter with a Venezuelan stamp? Where did some of the sleeping pills disappear to and are they connected to the murder? The list of clues goes on for a long time.
In this way, the book is written like a traditional who done it book. A book with a few surprises, but pretty traditional in its approach and its detective.
Cast of Characters:
- Sally Jupp (Ritchie) - Maid who was murdered
- Mrs Eleanor Maxi - matron of Martingale
- Stephen Maxie - Mrs. Maxie’s son, heir of Martingale, Sally Jupp’s fiance
- Deborah Riscoe - Mrs. Maxie’s daughter
- Catherine Bowers - Family friend, one time Stephen Maxie lover
- Felix Hearne - friend of Deborah, who feels more for Deborah than she for him
- Martha Bultitaft - Cook and house help
- Dr. Charles Epps - village doctor and family friend
- Mr. Bernard Hinks - vicar
- Miss Alice Liddell - Warden of St Mary’s Refuge for Girls whee Sally Jupp had been before being a maid
- Derek Pullen - friend of Sally Jupp’s, but not a lover.
- James Ritchie - husband, not known by others
- Mr. and Mrs. Proctor - Uncle and aunt who raised Sally Jupp
- Adam Dalgliesh - detective
- Sgt Martin - assistant to Dalgliesh
According to Wikipedia, the titles comes from John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi: "Cover her face. Mine eyes dazzle; she died young."
Nothing profound in this book, at least how I read it. But there are some interesting quotes.
humour was only a feeble attempt to denigrate fear. (6)
Sally Ritchie obviously believed that we live in a society which salves its conscience more by helping the interesting unfortunate than the dull deserving and was in the position to put her theory to the test. (9)
How do you recognize someone who is manipulative like Sally? How do you oppose her?
Was what Mrs. Maxie did heroic? Moral?
If you like reading, particularly mysteries, you need to read PD James! The question is, is Cover Her Face the book to read of hers?
I like PD James’ writing. This is the fifth book of hers which I read and I am glad I did. But would I start with Cover Her Face? Probably not. This is James’ first mystery book and I think she is trying to figure out her style of writing. The first three chapters are lead into the story. I confess, if it was not for the James’ as a writer, I would have put the book down. The start is slow. But as she gets more into the story, her writing picks up until you are engrossed in the storyline.
So read it, enjoy it, but do not start with this book if you are starting with James.
- trousseau (4): the clothes, household linen, and other belongings collected by a bride for her marriage.
- insouciance (8): casual lack of concern; indifference
- solecism (9): a grammatical mistake in speech or writing.
- fete: a celebration or festival
- First Line: Exactly three months before the killing at Martingale Mrs. Maxie gave a dinner party.
- Last Line: And when that happened the right words would be found.
- Publisher's Web Site for Book
- Author's Web Site
Barnes and Noble
- IMDB - BBC TV series
- BBC Series on YouTube
- Writers Notebook review
- The Telegraph - Five PD James novels to readThe Book Brothel blog - a good review of the book