2007: 56. The Skull Beneath the Skin

“There could be no doubt about it; the new nameplate was crooked.”

The Skull Beneath the Skin, P.D. James

Another James, on this one is about her other detective, Cordelia Gray.  There are only two Gray novels, but both are pretty good - the first has the fabulous title An Unsuitable Job for a Woman, referring to Gray’s chosen career of private detective.  Love it.  I like Cordelia, too, though I understand why James didn’t keep writing about her, as it’s hard to realistically explain why a private detective (who owns a failing agency, no less) would keep being involved in murder investigations.  Nowdays, murder is pretty much only for experts to solve.  

This murder takes place on a fabulous location - the island of Courcy, where a rich man has meticulously restored a Victorian castle (complete with room dedicated to Victorian murderers), and where terrible and dark things have happened in the past.  A small party is on the island (including Cordelia who has be hired to deal with some poison pen letters), and a murder occurs.  Creepy atmosphere, limited location - shades of Ten Little Indians/And Then There Were None.  The solution to the crime is pretty good too - one part I didn’t quite buy, but the other is quite ingenious.  I hadn’t intended to re-read the Gray novels (grabbed by mistake on my way out the door), since I remembered their plots better, but quite enjoyed this one despite my familiarity with whodunnit.


Recommended for:  Fans of creepy island mysteries (and who isn’t?); John Webster aficionados; people who love Victoriana.


Date/Place Completed: 4/22/07; D.C. 

Categories: Fiction; Re-Read; PD James Project

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017