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Moonlight Reader

Lawyer, mother, avid reader. Game host extraordinaire! Partner in crime to Obsidian Black Plague! My bookish weaknesses include classics, fantasy, YA, and agreeing to read more books than is even remotely possible.

Currently reading

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Progress: 60 %
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A World Undone: The Story of the Great War, 1914 to 1918
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Adam Dalgleish #1

Cover Her Face - P.D. James

Scribd comes through.


I went through a period of my life maybe fifteen years ago where all I read were mysteries, mostly mysteries written by women. P.D. James, Elizabeth George, Martha Grimes figured prominently during this reading era. All three of them featured male detectives - real detectives, not amateurs - Adam Dalgleish, Tommy Lynley and Richard Jury, respectively.


When I signed up for my scribd trial, I noticed that all of the PD James Inspector Dalgleish books were available - although the later books are only available in audiobook. Around the same times, P.D. James also passed away, on November 27 of last year. Because of the passage of time, I felt like it might be interesting to revisit her work.


In addition, it has been long enough ago that I remember little to nothing about this book. I am not actually certain that I had read it before - I can't really say which of her books I've read and which I have not. I distinctly remember reading An Unsuitable Job for a Woman, which, as it turns out, is not a Dalgleish mystery - it features a different main character named Cordelia Gray. I also know that I read some of the later books, particularly The Private Patient and Original Sin. I didn't start being an obsessive series reader (needing to start at the beginning and proceed forward) until about a decade ago, so it is completely consistent with my past, significantly less OCD reading practices, that I would jump in and out of the series with nary a care for completion.


Those days are gone, however. I wanted to start at the beginning of the series, which is why I picked up this one.


This is an introductory book and Dalgleish's character is not fleshed out. It feels like a one-off, actually. One of the great things about mystery series is that each book typically stands alone as a narrative. There may be continuity within the characters, but a mystery usually has a solution, and this book meets that expectation. 


Another generalization: older mysteries tend to focus on the puzzle and the plot. Newer mysteries tend to focus on the characters and the psychology of the victim/murderer. This book bridges those two characteristics. It begins with elements of a locked room mystery, and the explanation is a bit convoluted, actually. Red herrings abound, and the puzzle aspect is a bit heavy-handed, in my opinion.


But, there is also a focus on the victim and how her behavior contributed to making her a victim. The mystery can only really be solved through a thorough understanding of the motive behind it.


It's solid, but was also a first effort. There were weaknesses in writing, plotting and characterization. Improvement needed.