About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Cover Her Face by P.D. James

August has arrived and it is time to join Kerrie Smith from the Mysteries in Paradise blog in a long rail journey around Europe on her Crime on a Fiction EuroPass. Embarkation is England. I have chosen a book by P.D. James.


25. - 488.) Cover Her Face by P.D. James – The first Adam Dagleish mystery (1962), now 47 years in the past, sees the characters still affected by their proximity to WW II. It is set in the Maxie manor, Martingale, a short distance outside London. It opens in the same form as her latest work, The Private Patient, with the characters set up at an event, supper here, that occurred 3 months before the murder. Unwed mother, Sally Jupp, has been invited to be a housemaid. Eleanor Maxie is focused on caring for her bedridden husband. Her daughter, Deborah Riscoe, is a divorced upper class woman returned home. Son, Stephan Maxie, is completing his training as a surgeon in London and is the family hope for preserving Martingale. Catherine Bowers, a nurse, has a personal relationship with Stephen. War hero, Felix Hearne, remains scarred by the torture he experienced in France. Martha is the solid reliable long term British housekeeper and cook. All are present the 3 months later for the Maxie’s annual village fete. Emotions, especially resentement, are high. Late in the evening Sally stuns the household by announcing Stephen has proposed to her. The match is instantly disparaged as unsuitable. That night Sally is murdered in her bed. Everyone in the house is a plausible suspect. Dagleish and Sgt. Martin carefully interview each person as part of their thorough investigation. There is an unconvincing twist but it is a minor issue. The denoument is remiscient of Nero Wolfe. Unlike some of her most recent books the solution is fair. James’ skill at creating interesting developed characters is evident. In this work she has her characters think in quotations. It is also from an era when 181 pages was sufficient for a novel. (June 25/09)


  1. Bill - Thanks for this review. Your final comment is quite well-put :-). One of the things I like very much about James' work is he obvious love of words. Perhaps it's my background in linguistics peeping out. And I think you're quite right that character development is an especially strong point in her novels.

  2. Margot: The Baroness has an elegance with words that is seldom equalled.

  3. Thanks for this Bill. Hard to realise P.D. James has been writing for so long. So she really hasn't aged Dalgliesh with time has she - otherwise THE PRIVATE PATIENT he would need to be at least in his late 60s

  4. Was it really only 181 pages? Like Margot, I admire her very much for her brilliant language.

    And one thing that made a lasting impression on me in this one was Martha´s view on the Maxie family.

  5. Kerrie: Thanks for the comment. Dagleish is ageless and timeless.

    Dorte: Thanks for commenting. I wonder if she feels compelled by current expectations to writer mysteries of several hundred pages.