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It took awhile for women to enter the private eye profession without serving as secretaries or seductresses. When they did, the ladies proved to be every bit as tough, efficient, and intuitive as their male predecessors. In 1972, author P.D. James introduced Cordelia Gray, a young woman who inherits a London detective agency. Of course, it’s an awfully run-down detective agency, and Cordelia only gets it when her she finds her mentor Bernie Pryde, a cancer-ridden ex-cop, dead in the office. Bernie committed suicide but left his beloved P.I. firm in the capable hands of his youthful assistant. Cordelia bites the bullet, defies convention, and makes the business her own. Luck is on her side when her first case is a high profile investigation into the supposed suicide of a prominent scientist’s son. The son is Mark Callender, an intelligent Cambridge student who suddenly left school, became a gardener for a wealthy family, lived in a cozy little cottage, and then hung himself. To Cordelia, questioning Mark’s uncooperative friends and investigating the puzzling crime scene, the pieces don’t fit. Digging deep into Callender family secrets, Cordelia uncovers a web of mysterious circumstances that someone doesn’t want brought to light. Now Cordelia herself is a target, but no good private investigator lets something as trivial as danger stand in the way. Cordelia, despite her youth and inexperience, is determined to be a damn good P.I. Author P.D. James (born in 1920 and publishing since 1962) is as experienced a mystery writer as they come. Tight plotting, attention to detail, and compelling characters mean that Cordelia Gray is a detective to be reckoned with—and she appears in one more mystery, 1983’s The Skull Beneath the Skin.
posted Sep 14, 2010 at 9:17AM
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