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Cover Her Face

(Adam Dalgliesh #1)

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  36,417 ratings  ·  1,457 reviews
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

Paperback, 250 pages
Published May 8th 2001 by Scribner (first published 1962)
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Christine Cody I have been reading the detective series in order since I retired. I think doing so adds wonderful layers to the reading. Often authors bring back som…moreI have been reading the detective series in order since I retired. I think doing so adds wonderful layers to the reading. Often authors bring back someone introduced in an earlier book. It's interesting to know the connection, how they met, suspect or victim, disinterested party, etc. It makes the whole experience richer. So, while it isn't imperative, I would say that it's a good idea to read the books in order if you can. It's also wonderful to see the authors become more familiar with their characters and be able to see the authors become even better and flesh out their characters more. (less)

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Average rating 3.93  · 
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Apr 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After my brain injury, PD James became a marker for me in my reading progress. Pre-injury I read every one of her books and enjoyed them tremendously for their good writing and good stories. After my injury though, with my reading ability fried, I couldn't read any of her books. Too many characters to follow, plots that meandered beyond my ability to follow, writing at a grade level higher than what I'd sunk down to... It was rather disappointing to see her new books come out over the years and ...more
Aug 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Back to basics! I switched from modern cozies and crime fiction to a supposed blast from the past. I remembered a few PD James novels I read in college as part of my mystery fiction independent studies and decided to start the series.

As expected, very reminiscent of Agatha Christie but with a little more modern appeal. I enjoyed the characters and premise for a traditional whodunit!

I also like the wrap up of all the main characters in the end, as well as that at least one of them is seen again
May 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have not read the first Adam Dalgleish novel for some time, so it was a pleasure to return to P D James and her very first book. In some ways this is a very typical mystery. The Maxie family live in the big house, in somewhat genteel poverty, with the only full time staff member the loyal Martha. As well as the housework and cooking, Mr Maxie is bedridden, so Mrs Maxie employs Sally Jupp, an unmarried mother as a house-parlourmaid. She is convinced by Miss Liddell, the Warden of St Mary’s Refu ...more
Manuel Antão
Dec 12, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009, 2018
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Triteness and Boringness: "Cover Her Face” by P. D. James

“The cultured cop! I thought they were peculiar to detective novels.”

In “Cover Her Face” by P. D. James

Sometimes people just like to talk about the books they're reading. Not boast. Just talk. I realise such plebeian behaviour may not be acceptable in the rarefied circles some people move in, but for the rest of us mere mortals it happens quite a lot. Given that reading is becomi
I read this book to fill the International Woman of Mystery square of my 2019 Halloween Bingo Card.

This is my first foray into P.D. James’ mystery writing and I was pleasantly impressed. I can certainly see a relationship to the works of Agatha Christie--but I guess it is virtually impossible to write in this genre without paying homage to both her and Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. What James does so well is to make me feel like I truly know the people that she is writing about. They are
Jun 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio, overdrive
It's been a long time since I read a book by this author, but I think I remember having liked them. Maybe the other books were better or maybe I have just outgrown my interest in mysteries, at least the British variety with tea cups, jam jars, jumble sales and small gossipy villages. Whatever the reason, I was really unimpressed by this book.

Most of the suspects were introduced in tedious detail in the first chapter, but the murder did not occur until about the 25% point of the book. At that ti
Jan 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was surprisingly good! My first P.D. James story and her debut. It was more old fashioned than I thought it would be and I look forward to reading more of the series.
Dec 10, 2019 rated it liked it
This book was another result of me aimlessly browsing the available audiobook downloads from my library, and since I had read one PD James mystery (The Skull Beneath the Skin) and enjoyed it, I decided to give this a shot. This is actually James’ debut mystery, so I’m willing to forgive the more clunky aspects of the book in light of that.

The story follows your basic murder mystery formula, where we have a wealthy family in an English country manor, and muuuuuurder.

It’s a perfectly serviceable
Julie  Durnell
Feb 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great introduction to Inspector Dalgleish, although he was more in the background. Enjoyed the setting, characters, and intricate locked door mystery! Looking forward to the second book!
Feb 17, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2010, mystery
I'm beginning to think by some coincidence the very first PD James I read also happened to be the only interesting book she's ever written. Honestly, I would really like to like her, but I can't. Cover Her Face is her first novel and I wonder how she ever became successful this way. It suffers from all the flaws I've found pervasive in her other novels – boring descriptions, unlikeable characters, and zero suspense. The mystery plot has a lot of painstakingly crafted red herrings and clues, ...more
Bill Kupersmith
Jul 23, 2018 rated it liked it
I was working in London the summer of the year this book was first published but only now have I got round to reading it for the Kindle English Mystery Group. Although P. D. James shared with her friend Ruth Rendell the honour of making the detective story into a serious literary genre, Cover Her Face seems now to belong to the world of Agatha Christie than to ours, where crime fiction is the form of the novel that best engages serious moral and spiritual issues. Of course it was James and Rende ...more
Haven't read the author before but I did like this solidly written mystery/police procedural. Always enjoy the English country house settings and a more complicated and intricate murder/mystery. In this case it was the victim Sally Jupp who was the most complex character. Those closest and caught up in her secret world really didn't have a clue. ...more
Jan 25, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Where I got the book: Audiobook on Audible.

I thought it was about time I listened to the entire Adam Dalgleish series—I’ve read some of them but certainly none of the early ones. In this 1962 story you can see the tradition that goes back to the Golden Age of the detective story in the 1930s. All the clichés are there: the stately home, the nerve-ridden war hero, the lower classes kowtowing to the upper, the vicar a sort of go-between in terms of social status.

Except that it wasn’t, of course—J
Roman Clodia
Jan 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars

PD James' first novel which self-consciously takes all the formulaic tropes of the classic murder mystery (think Agatha Christie) and overlays them with elegant writing, thicker characterisation, and a sense of slow social change.

The setting is that hoary old chestnut: the village fete; but at the centre of the book is the uppity lower class Sally who has the temerity to flaunt her red hair, her single-mother status and her sly manipulations of the master of the house... small wonder,
2.5 stars

If you are looking for a fast-paced thriller, this book is NOT for you.  I read it for several weeks at bedtime and dropped off each night after a couple of pages.  I give it high marks for inducing sleep! I just now realized that I read this book nine years ago and remembered none of it. I had given it a two star rating then, but didn't review it.

In this first book of the series, Inspector Dalgliesh interviews and investigates each murder suspect at length.  The suspects include the fa
Nov 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
PD Jame's first mystery novel, and a confusing one it is.

Though I did enjoy it, one must quickly become accustomed to her very, very literary writing style. Two things stand out: long sentences and a somewhat confusing omniscient POV. There were moments when I thought: who is this talking? What? Whose head am I in? There's also the custom of placing quotation marks around thoughts, so very often I'd be thinking - what? Is She or He saying that aloud?

However, Ms. James does conveniently write, '
Dec 25, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery, crime
Meh. P.D. James is a competent writer and puts together a reasonable mystery, but there's nothing exciting about it -- I felt like I'd read it before, honestly. The Kindle version has very bad formatting, too ("that" turns into "mat", for example); no one bothered to proofread it. None of the characters are particularly interesting to me -- again, I seemed to have read all about them before, in other crime novels.

I think I had the same reaction to another P.D. James book, so maybe I just don't c
Sep 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Well this series definitely intrigues me. I ended up reading a short story starring this character last year or the year before for Festive Tasks and then I ended up trying to start a stand alone with him and didn't realize it wasn't the first book. So I put it away and forget about reading this series until now. I have to say that P.D. James does a great job with all of the characters that are introduced, but the book starts off very slowly. It reminds me of some of Agatha Christie works, espec ...more
Cover Her Face is the first murder-mystery in the Dalgleish series and my first reading of the series. At present, I'm having mixed feelings about the book. Not quite sure if I enjoyed it really. The story was pretty straight for me and I guessed the murderer quite early. There were some twists and turns in the plot, but not strong enough to cast doubt on my conclusion. That was not a problem of course. The knowledge of the criminal never hinders my enjoyment of the story if it progressed well ...more
This was James’ first crime novel, debuting DCI Adam Dalgliesh who gets far less character padding or attention than the victim, suspect pool, or even his accompanying sergeant. I enjoy James’ character building enormously, it’s really her forte, and especially the way she often leaves Dalgliesh to the role of observer, concentrating on the crime rather than the draw of a serialised detective. In Cover her Face, none of the characters are overly likeable, but they are all very strongly presented ...more
May 15, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This introduction to the Adam Dalgliesh series is a cross between an English country house mystery and a police procedural. It tends to feel more like the former since the detective is mostly absent and the family members seem central. Sally Jupp, a household employee with a secretive past, dies at the hands of a killer in an apparently locked room. Neither Sally nor the family members were likable. I would prefer more involvement from the police detective. I listened to the audio version read b ...more
Mar 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Mir by: Bettie
Shelves: mystery
I see Dalgliesh is James' recurring detective character, but we don't get a strong personality here. The rest of the cast, on the other hand, is a bit more complex and developed than is standard for this sort of mystery. As usual I disliked them all, and the one that I found most interesting was on page the least. At least the romance was kept to a minimum. ...more
Dame Agatha Christie and Her Peers
I read a P.D.James book years ago, and instead of finding a "Christie-Cozy" relaxing read, I found it to be overly challenging and confusing at times: I had to focus a bit more while reading James than other 'who-did-it' type authors. So, I'm going to give James another try, starting with this, the first in the Dalgiesh series.
CAST=3 stars: Here, Detective Chief Inspector Adam Dalgiesh feels rather flat, but at a first outing, no author wants to give too m
Jan 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was P.D. James' first novel and introduces her detective Adam Dalgliesh. Very little is revealed about Dalgliesh's character in this first novel - there are some hints but he has no scenes away from his role as the detective in charge of the case.

The book is set up like a Golden Age Detective novel in that it takes place in a country house with a closed circle of suspects and the classic scene in the last chapter where the detective gathers everyone together.

Because everyone knows that it'
Jan 16, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Quite boring and with a rushed end.
Nancy Oakes
I read this book EONS ago but had totally forgotten the plot, the mystery and the killer, so it was truly like reading it for the first time. Now I'm interested enough to reread more of my books by this author. If you haven't read it, go get a copy. It's a great book, a great mystery, filled with enough suspects and red herrings to keep the most avid mystery fan interested through the entire book. I thought I had it figured out but I was so off the mark it wasn't funny.

brief summary, no spoilers
Matt Glaviano
Feb 27, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2008, mysteries
I like keeping a crime novel handy sometimes when I’m reading a nonfiction book. I tend to find fiction a bit more relaxing, and would prefer not to read a book like The Omnivore’s Dilemma (the other book I’m reading) before bed. This was James’ debut novel, and it reads quite assuredly for being such. A well constructed, if unsurprising, mystery. I don’t mean that the identity of the killer was unsurprising; I mean that, in general, the book stuck well within the confines of its genre. One thin ...more
A good classic English countryside mystery. Got me out of COVID world for awhile.
Jan 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've previously read a couple of other PD James' Inspector Dalgleish mysteries before and enjoyed very much. I like how intelligent James writes. This is the first Dalgleish mystery and I must say I enjoyed as much as the others I've read. Dalgleish is almost a peripheral character in the story, James rather focusses on the other characters/ suspects and their activities, motivations as she develops the story. Basically, Sally Juup, a housemaid is found dead (strangled) in her bedroom. All of th ...more
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P. D. James, byname of Phyllis Dorothy James White, Baroness James of Holland Park, (born August 3, 1920, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England—died November 27, 2014, Oxford), British mystery novelist best known for her fictional detective Adam Dalgliesh of Scotland Yard.

The daughter of a middle-grade civil servant, James grew up in the university town of Cambridge. Her formal education, however, ended at

Other books in the series

Adam Dalgliesh (1 - 10 of 14 books)
  • A Mind to Murder (Adam Dalgliesh #2)
  • Unnatural Causes (Adam Dalgliesh #3)
  • Shroud for a Nightingale (Adam Dalgliesh #4)
  • The Black Tower (Adam Dalgliesh #5)
  • Death of an Expert Witness (Adam Dalgliesh #6)
  • A Taste for Death (Adam Dalgliesh, #7)
  • Devices and Desires (Adam Dalgliesh #8)
  • Original Sin (Adam Dalgliesh #9)
  • A Certain Justice (Adam Dalgliesh, #10)
  • Death in Holy Orders (Adam Dalgliesh, #11)

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