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L'île Des Morts
P.D. James
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L'île Des Morts (Cordelia Gray #2)

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  4,804 Ratings  ·  237 Reviews
P. D. James is "the reigning mistress of murder." -- Time

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 myster
Paperback, 400 pages
Published March 1st 1987 by Livre de Poche (first published 1982)
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I had never read anything by PD James, but she's been on my shortlist of authors-to-read for a while now. I think she first came onto my radar when I heard about her recent mystery, Death Comes to Pemberley (which did not particularly interest me itself, since not even a murder mystery could make me give a crap about the Bennett sisters), but she's been a prolific detective author for decades. This one, published in 1982, is obviously not one of her newer mysteries, but it caught my eye when I w ...more
mark monday
Aug 31, 2010 mark monday rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: murdertime
the novel appears to be PD James looking back at agatha christie by taking the basics of the classic murder mystery (an enclosed and gothic setting, a finite number of suspects, stylized characters)...and then updating it with all of the intricate details, narrative complexity, and emotionally nuanced characterizations of a later-period psychological thriller. the scene in question is wonderful - per the book jacket, a "fairy-tale castle on the sunlit island of Courcy". the often self-doubting b ...more
Nov 06, 2007 Margie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, series, u-k
A bit of a far cry from her later books. The structure is there, but she makes some major leaps without bringing the reader along. Having read mostly her later books, this makes a nice contrast to see how she's grown as a writer.
Jan 24, 2010 Yngvild rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
The Skull Beneath the Skin looks back to the days when readers expected large dollops of philosophy and literary references along with their stories. This P D James novel contains references to John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi (the play within a play), Nietzsche, Donne, Shakespeare, William Morris, the Bible, the Book of Mormon, E M Forster, Malory, Voltaire, Austen and Rattigan amongst others.
Bosola: Other sins only speak; murder shrieks out.
The element of water moistens the earth,
But bloo
May 11, 2012 Debra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Private investigator Cordelia Gray has been hired by Sir George Ralston to accompany his wife, Clarissa, to Courcy Island, where Clarissa is to star in a play. Cordelia’s mission is to keep the persistent poison pen letters away from Clarissa. They’ve already caused one meltdown on stage and Sir George doesn’t want another. Protecting Clarissa from the letters is one thing, but protecting her from death is something else. When Clarissa is discovered murdered prior to the performance, Cordelia’s ...more
Mar 20, 2009 Katharine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
The Skull Beneath the Skin is the last PD James I'm going to read for a while. I will say that this was a lot more fun to read than The Black Tower. I found Cordelia Gray to be a more sympathetic detective character than Dalgleish, and the plot followed a little more closely in the style of a classic English house-party murder.

The downfall of this one is that the theatrical setting is such a cliché, with the self-absorbed diva and her circle of followers – even to the mysterious and devoted f
I enjoyed reading this (on a plane ride) but was irked by two things: 1.) Cordelia was rather passive in her role as detective & didn't stand up for herself as much as I would have presumed she would & 2.) The reveal of 'whodunit' was anti-climatic to me. More of a, "Oh...that's it? That's all?"
Dec 24, 2015 Amiad rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
ספר מתח בריטי. כמה אנשים נמצאים בטירה באי ואחד מהם נרצח וכו׳.
סך הכול רענון מספרי המתח המודרניים.
Mariano Hortal
Publicado en

La calavera bajo la piel de P.D James. El recuerdo a una gran dama del crimen

El pasado 27 de noviembre del 2014 nos dejó Phyllis Dorothy James, mundialmente conocida por P.D. James. La británica, nacida en Oxford en 1920, fue uno de los mejores exponentes del género policíaco. En casos como este, con una dilatada carrera por detrás, con una cantidad razonable de títulos entre los que escoger, al lector que no conoce al autor siempre se le plan
Johanna Lilas
May 17, 2016 Johanna Lilas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Cordélia est une détective privée anglaise. Elle a pour habitude de retrouver les animaux de compagnie perdus. La jeune femme est alors sollicitée par Sir George pour protéger sa femme Clarissa. En effet, la comédienne reçoit des lettres de menaces de mort. L'objectif est de mettre en péril sa carrière. Clarissa est invitée chez Ambrose, propriétaire d'un château victorien sur l'île de Courcy, pour faire une représentation afin de relancer sa carrière. A cette occasion, Cordélia doit intercepter ...more
Sep 09, 2011 Alex rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
It's hard to know precisely how to grade a novel such as The Skull Beneath The Skin. James takes much of what she learned from composing twenty years of crime fiction and transplants these lessons onto Cordelia Gray, who is simply not as robust a creation as Adam Dalgliesh.

What we get is a largely satisfactory composition that never quite gels, because Cordelia feels like more of a bystander than an active participant in the novel; she is on an island when bad things happen on that island, and
Dec 07, 2014 Jim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british-crime
I won't lie, this book irritated me. In it, Cordelia Gray is asked to investigate who is making threats to kill a famous (well B-list famous) actress. We travel to an island with Gray and said actress, watch said actress give the remaining characters in the book enough reason to kill her (if mysteries to be believed), and die. Gray then does her best to work out whodunnit.

The book irritated me no end. In and of itself it wasn't bad. It was just too damn similar to the only other Gray book out th
Dec 30, 2012 Cat. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, fiction
As usual, there is a lot going on in this book besides the mystery itself. James is wonderful at drawing pictures with words, pictures that include the scenery and personality of not only people but inanimate objects.

Cordelia Gray has been hired as a bodyguard/personal assistant for a fading stage actress who has been receiving vaguely threatening letters for some time. She is due to perform in a private performance at the home of a friend of hers on an island off the coast of England. Essential
The second of the Cordelia Gray series by P D James, wherein Adam Dalgleish, her famous Inspector has only a passing mention. I liked the initial 3/4ths of the book – it was a very cozy read – a fading theatre artist who is giving a private performance at a remote island castle belonging to her friend. She is besieged by poisonous hate mails and is fearing her life, though no one believes that her life is in danger. Her current husband engages Cordelia Gray to be constantly with her and filter a ...more
Gillian Kevern
Feb 20, 2016 Gillian Kevern rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, 1980s
I had no idea I'd read so much P.D. James. I could only remember reading two of her books, but I remembered the first half of this book so strongly that I'm starting to wonder if having these books on my shelf for so long meant that I have somehow absorbed the contents of her novels through osmosis.

I really like Cordelia, so much so that I really want a happy ending for her. It's probably more realistic that despite her best efforts, her intelligence and her energy, she never gets the success s
This was a reread of a novel I didn't have any memories of. Cordelia is a wonderful character to walk along side as she tries to make sense of this very messy situation. An almost close off mystery, it takes place on an island, where everyone plays false and lies a little or a lot. The creepy factor is high but shown in a matter of fact way. That adds to the creepy factor.

P.D. James makes the reader care about Cordelia and her motives to solve this mess. The resolution is a bit melodramatic. St
Jan 19, 2013 Leslie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, british
Although this book has all the elements of a mystery that I would really like, it failed to engage my interest. I don't know whether it was Cordelia or something else but I had to force myself to finish it.
PD James thriller with Greta Scacchi and John Moffatt.

An magnificent plot, as usual, by Dame James.
Solid, creepy mystery, written with consistently dry humo(u)r. I quite liked it.
Jean-paul Audouy
Took a long time to take off but was worth the wait in the end.
Dawn Marie
Feb 07, 2017 Dawn Marie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m just going to say it. I think Cordelia Gray is a better character than Adam Dalgliesh. There I said it. It has nothing to do with girl power or any kind of feminist equality it’s just Cordelia is easier to be around. While Adam is contemplating life’s complexity staring into the sea, or a lake, or a river or even an overly large mud puddle, Cordelia just gets on with it. She is the quintessential spunky girl detective. Sadly though, for some unknown reason in this book, Cordelia doesn’t do m ...more
Dec 11, 2016 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of good writing
Shelves: mystery
This book came into my house because I didn't send the card back to Book of the Month Club and it was my first ever P.D. James book. I fell in love with her writing and have since read everything she wrote before her death (except Death Comes to Pemberley since I haven't read Pride and Prejudice yet).
Feb 04, 2017 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Worth the Time

The characters were well developed and I enjoyed the setting descriptions. This is the third P.D. James book I've read, and of the three I've read, two were the Cordelia Grey series. Although I enjoyed this book it isn't my favorite. I did not care for the ending. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good mystery.
Jan 30, 2017 Edmund rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was written by P. D. James - what's not to love?! Expertly written and compelling. Once I was about halfway through it, I couldn't put it down.
Feb 22, 2017 Liz rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Witty, but very slow. The narrator sounds like an old lady even though the protagonist is described as a young lady.
Feb 08, 2017 Delta rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Good plot but a bit of a yawner
Jan 09, 2017 Antonia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyable but less so than the first in the series.
Heidi Finley
Dec 30, 2016 Heidi Finley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Good book that passed the time. I found it hard to believe the relatively modern setting. The description and narration makes it seem like early 1900's (aside from the war references). Maybe it's a British thing. I was surprised by the ending, but found the characters a little numb and cold, which was probably intentional, but doesn't leave for a great lasting impression. Even the protagonist, Cordelia Gray is just "okay". You want to like her because she is a modest, hard-working, young person, ...more
Sharon Terry
Dec 13, 2014 Sharon Terry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this novel hard going at first, as I was used to the far more fast-paced approach of modern crime writers; however, it did eventually become quite absorbing. PD James seems to be a believer in "plot is character", because you tend to rifle through the suspects as you go, eliminating this one and that one on the basis of character, rather than alibi, means, motive, etc. It is basically a "cosy" - not too awfully gruesome, just a touch; a bunch of people in an enclosed environment; an unpl ...more
P. D. James' writing has definitely challenged the way I think. Especially about justice and murder and motives! This was a good mystery and also an interesting study of human nature.
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English Mysteries...: (2) January 2013 - The Skull Beneath the Skin 10 83 Jan 25, 2013 06:56AM  
James 0 23 Apr 21, 2012 09:26AM  
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P.D. (Phyllis Dorothy) James was the author of over twenty books, most of which have been filmed and broadcast on television in the United States and other countries. She spent thirty years in various departments of the British Civil Service, including the Police and Criminal Law Department of Great Britain's Home Office. She served as a magistrate and as a governor of th
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Other Books in the Series

Cordelia Gray (2 books)
  • An Unsuitable Job for a Woman (Cordelia Gray, #1)

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