P.D James – Cover Her Face

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.


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 that immediately placed her among the masters of suspense. (Goodreads).

As I mentioned in my previous post that featured author P.D James, I had a deep desire to find a cozy mystery writer that was similar in style to Agatha Christie, I was thoroughly impressed with the characters in the novel, plot of the book and the pace of the story.

Even though this was a compelling read to me and it was a novel that was received well by critics, James described it as her least favourite among her books (Wikipedia).

Cover Her Face was published in 1962 and is the first book of the Adam Dalgliesh series. In the novel James plots a complex story of family secrets and suspicion (Faber & Faber). At the start of the novel it is clear that the Maxie’s are a prim and proper old English family and it would be arduous work for any detective to uncover the truth of what happened on that fateful night.

Each character seems to carry with them a secret which is unknown to the rest and this creates a web of confusion and suspicions begin to formulate. But this definitely adds to the intrigue of the narrative.

Quote from the book – gives us a glimpse into the character of Detective Adam Dalgliesh

When I chose to read this novel I wanted something lighthearted – a story that would remove my mind from the reality of the world – and that is exactly what I got!

When Dalgliesh is first introduced, I kept expecting him to have some higher level IQ or exceptional skills in deductive reasoning. It may very well be that he possess some or other superior attribute but it wasn’t highlighted in Cover Her Face. This makes sense as it was only the first novel.

I am excited to read the rest of the novels to discover the character development of Dalgliesh. In reviews and summaries I’ve read by other bloggers about Dalgliesh, everyone mentions that he is a poet as well. So I’m pretty keen to see where this hobby/trait fits into his character as a detective.

Commenting on the establishment of St. Mary’s Refuge for Girls – a “boarding house” for unmarried mothers

Before I give any spoilers to the narrative, I will add this:

To me, the final scene of the novel where Dalgliesh uncovers the murderer is reminiscent of Agatha Christie, when Hercule Poirot or Ms Marple reveals the killer.

I would go as far as to recommend the Dalgliesh book series to other fans of mystery novels.

The novel was adapted into a mini-series in 1985 and was produced for Britain’s ITV network. It starred Roy Marsden as Adam Dalgliesh, who went on to portray the detective for the next fifteen years (Wikipedia). The novel was also adapted into a radio serial which was produced by BBC Radio 4. This adaption starred Hugh Grant, who played Felix, one of the main charaters in the book (Wikipedia).

A poster from the 1985 mini-series
The CD cover art for the radio serial that was produced.

Works Cited List

“Cover Her Face (Adam Dalgliesh #1)”. Goodreads, Inc. 08 June 2021.
“Cover Her Face”. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 9 December 2020. 09 June 2021 Accessed.
“Roy Marsden”. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 02 June 2021. 09 June 2021 Accessed.
“Cover Her Face — P.D. James”. FictionDB. 09 June 2021 Accessed.
“Cover Her Face: An Adam Dalgliesh Mystery: 1 Paperback – 28 May 2001”., Inc. 09 June 2021 Accessed.
“Cover Her Face
TV Mini Series
1985–”., Inc. 09 June 2021 Accessed.
“Cover Her Face: BBC Radio 4 Full-cast Dramatisation (BBC Radio Collection) by James, P. D., Teller, Neville on 07/05/2002 Unabridged edition Audio CD”., Inc. 09 June 2021 Accessed.
“Cover Her Face, P. D.James”. Allen & Unwin Book Publishers.  09 June 2021 Accessed.
Danby, Sandra. “Book review: Cover Her Face”. Sandra Danby 2018. 14 June 2021 Accessed.
“Cover Her Face”.  Faber & Faber. 14 June 2021 Accessed.
Shuo, Yang. “snowfield with dried trees photo”. Unsplash, Photos for everyone. Unsplash. 14 February 2018 Published. 15 June 2021 Accessed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s