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“For heaven's sake, Darling, keep your crusading instinct [for social justice] under control...It's uncomfortable to live with especially for those of us who haven't got one.”
The perfect English country house murder mystery, Cover Her Face has a plot so brilliantly conceived and executed it could only have come from the pen of ‘the greatest contemporary writer of classic crime’ (Sunday Times). In this, her debut novel originally published in 1962, P. D. James introduced the reading public to the quietly persistent and intuitive Detective Chief Inspector Adam Dalgliesh.
For generations the Maxie family, owners of Martingale manor house, have hosted the St Cedd’s church fête in their grounds. Family and friends gather at the manor to help organise stalls, prepare teas and ensure everyone leaves the grounds in good time at the end of the day. Later that evening, Eleanor Maxie and the rest of the household are thrown into confusion by the announcement of her son Stephen’s sudden engagement to the new parlour maid, the headstrong Sally Jupp. The following morning, confusion turns to shock when Sally is found dead, strangled in her bedroom. Initial speculation points to a stranger, but Dalgliesh is convinced Sally knew her murderer, and there is no shortage of suspects in this seemingly serene rural setting, as he unravels a complex mesh of lies, deceit and tangled relationships.
Subtle, intelligent and gripping to the very end, Cover Her Face is an outstanding contribution to the murder mystery genre by one of its greatest practitioners. Like Dorothy L. Sayers and Agatha Christie, P. D. James instinctively understands that a small English country parish provides the perfect setting for cold-blooded murder. Her deft narrative keeps the reader guessing to the end – an end which, when it arrives, is satisfyingly clear.