Publisher: Warner Books
After reading this book, I understand why P.D. James is called the “Queen of Crime.” Her effortless story telling and steady pace of adding of layers and information makes this first Adam Dalgliesh novel a pithy read.
Sally Jupp is a sly, attractive young woman who seems to be a mass of contradictions. An unmarried mother, she is also the subject of a lot of speculation in the village. Secretive and manipulative, she is ready to do anything to climb the social ladder. When she is found murdered in her room one morning, the entire household is under suspicion, many of them having motive to have done it. Chief Inspector Adam Dalgliesh has the seemingly difficult task of getting to the bottom of this mystery.
This story has just the right amount of character development, description and clues to make it an easy interesting read for all crime fiction lovers.
It has rather a different feel with the speculating and theorizing being done not just by the police, but by the other characters themselves – and in a way that you are left guessing if they they are the perpetrators, or they know who did it, or if they are just joining in the speculation.
Maybe it was just my impatience, but the last 100 pages went round in circles a bit. But that is the characteristic of detective novels such as this one where the players are gathered into the living room and the detective sums up the case and reveals the murderer. Formulaic, but fun.
I love how James develops each character, we get to know them better and better and thus can make a highly educated guess as to who the murderer is.
Adam Dalgliesh is not fully developed in this story, understandably since this is his debut. I guess James saw the potential for him and he developed a lot more through the series.
The best thing for me is that the story is very well-written. There is an easy style and usage of mot juste throughout makes this an immensely enjoyable read.
Must read for detective/crime fiction fans. Great place to start if you’re thinking of giving P.D. James a try.
Read more about Mystery & Crime fiction month.