I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
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.
I read this book to fill the International Woman of Mystery square of my 2019 Halloween Bingo Card.
This is my first foray into P.D. James’ mystery writing and I was pleasantly impressed. I can certainly see a relationship to the works of Agatha Christie--but I guess it is virtually impossible to write in this genre without paying homage to both her and Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. What James does so well is to make me feel like I truly know the people that she is writing about. They aren’t just cardboard cut-outs, they are fully realized people with their own motivations and prejudices. They are part of their community, well known and involved.
What she also captures so well, in my opinion, is the way that society was changing in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. Class was becoming less meaningful and less respected. Sexual mores were already shifting and loosening. Charity from upper class people was less valued and more resented.
In Dalgleish himself, I see the roots of another favourite detective, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, written by Louise Penny. They are both quiet, introspective, intellectual men who have good taste and good sense. I didn’t get to know Adam Dalgliesh as well as I would like to in this first book, but I will certainly go on to the next book to see if I can remedy that situation.