Cover Her Face (Adam Dalgliesh #1) ★★☆☆½

coverherface (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Cover Her Face
Series: Adam Dalgliesh #1
Author: P.D. James
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 256
Format: Digital Edition



A young woman has been taken on as a part time servant at the Maxie resident. Said young woman causes as many small problems as she can and ends up being choked to death one night.

Detective Dalgliesh is assigned to the case and begins to uncover the web of sins connecting the household. The true story is told, the murderess confesses and life continues for those left behind.

Not a cozy mystery but more of a bottom feeding, slime pit mystery.


My Thoughts:

In my review of the Mistletoe Murder, I used the word “sordid”. I was afraid of getting more of that here. Thankfully, that was not the case. However, what I did get wasn’t much better.

I am not a fan of series where the titular character is barely there or plays almost no part in the story. Miss Marple springs to mind. I gave up on those mysteries when she stopped being the central “character”. Adam Dalgliesh was almost invisible in this story. In fact, the last 10 pages or so gave him more character than the whole of the book before those 10 pages. I felt like he was a hat rack for James to hang her literary hat upon. He was featureless, bland, plodding and was not a “character”.

I am also not a fan of unlikeable characters. From the murdered woman all the way up to the Matron of the House, there wasn’t a likeable person among them. The Matron’s two adult children were petty, self-centered bitter people. The two houseguests were delusional on one hand and quick to enjoy the suffering of others on the other. The dead girl’s uncle stole her small inheritance. The dead girl pretends to be a single mother so she can get all sorts of free stuff and then claims that the Matron’s son asked her to marry him. He doesn’t deny it even though he didn’t. And through it all, the dead girl was married almost 2 years ago and is expecting her secret husband back any time. She says what she says and does what she does just to cause chaos and turmoil and pain.

Now how am I supposed to enjoy reading about a group of people like that?

I don’t read books to experience the worst of humanity. I know it exists and it is real but my books are for me to escape, to aim for something higher. This gave me none of that.

I think I am done with James. Her desire to drag her readers through the mud and slimepits of her characters isn’t compatible with my desire to be actually entertained while I read. Her writing ability may be great, but it is wasted as far as I’m concerned, being used that way.



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10 thoughts on “Cover Her Face (Adam Dalgliesh #1) ★★☆☆½

  1. I agree, I find PD James both compelling and repelling. She is a fabulous writer – of truly unlikeable characters. I don’t know her and I’ve never read an interview with her but she strikes me as someone who I’d dislike because she would bring out the worst in me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The whole invisible MC was one of main reasons I abandoned the Miss Marple books by Christie.

      But if you’re going to base a series of books around a human character, then make the series ABOUT the character. Oh well. Lesson learned.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Not much better than the last, huh. Okay, good choice to drop the author!

    I hate books that make you feel down and this sounds like one of those. We don’t need picture-perfect characters. But please make SOME of them likeable^^

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ahh I’ve seen that a couple of times, stories where the main character disappears… Sometimes I just wonder if it’s really just to let other characters shine and develop or if there’s really an inability to balance it all properly.

    Liked by 1 person

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