Handsome Cambridge dropout Mark Callender died hanging by the neck with a faint trace of lipstick on his mouth. When the official verdict is suicide, his wealthy father hires fledgling private investigator Cordelia Gray to find out what led him to self-destruction. What she discovers instead is a twisting trail of secrets and sins, and the strong scent of murder.
An Unsuitable Job for a Woman introduces P. D. James's courageous but vulnerable young detective, Cordelia Gray, in a "top-rated puzzle of peril that holds you all the way" (The New York Times)....Continua
I like the way P.D. James focuses on the psychology of her characters. Cordelia Gray seems too young to be a detective and her being a woman doesn’t help. Nevertheless, she is determined to follow that path, and works out her first case successfully.
I found two elements quite interesting in the plot: Cordelia’s emotional involvement triggered by a sort of empathy with the victim Mark, and Cordelia’s behavior in the final act of the story when she sympathizes with Miss Leaming, and eventually even conspires with her. This latter fact surely depends on the previous one, but it’s not clear if Cordelia’s conduct can only be seen as the direct consequence of her noble desire not to desecrate Mark’s memory, or rather of an urgent need of doing justice to Mark by any means, thing that I would consider more questionable.
What is clear is that the case involves a series of family values to which women are particularly sensitive and the resulting investigation, far from being an unsuitable job for a woman, turns out to be particularly suited to Cordelia....Continua