I've always loved P D James' books and if ever I see one around I snap it up right away. This was a very quick read of just a little over 200 pages and involved the ever enigmatic Adam Dalgliesh Scotland Yard Detective.
The story which seems romantic and very idealized in its setting is a quaint, typical
English village portrayed so often and in my eyes oh so very nice to live in. I wonder whether the actual situation is so! Getting back to our story, the plot involves a family of repute living at Martingale for generations and looked up as one of the "old" families of the area. A doctor son, a divorced daughter, an ailing husband nearing the end of his life and a devoted wife form the crux of the family. The supporting cast becomes finally the main characters of the story and this is very interesting how James incorporates the minor characters of Catherine and Miss Liddell and even Felix Hearne (who is courting the daughter)and most surprisingly the housemaid Sally Jupp forms the pivotal part of the story.
On the surface everything seems very calm leading to an annual fete held traditionally in the gardens of Martingale - beneath this very benign fairy tale
scene simmers tensions, antagonism and outright hatred which culminates in the murder of Sally with seemingly little or no idea of who or why someone wanted Sally
out of the way. Knowing Sally's character of playing off one against the other, being very secretive and having an affinity for creating problems wherever she lived, there are many suspects all of whom have very legitimate reasons why they dislike her to the point of even murdering her. The ultimate murderer when revealed is a total surprise as to all appearances she seemed the stable, steady person who held the reigns of the entire family in her hands.
A very pleasant read as usual from Ms James. Right now I seem to be reading more detective books than anything else and enjoying them very much. Am in the middle of a Colin Dexter book - review will be done soon.
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