This is the first of the Inspector Detective (or is it Detective Inspector), police commander and poet Adam Dalgliesh novels, for which she is probably best known. She also has another crime series, staring Cordelia Gray, plus several other novels, and a couple of non-fiction works.
In 1991, she was created a life peer as Baroness James of Holland Park. I love how the British do that — create royalty on the run as it were.
But back to the story. One of those British country house murders, with the usual suspects: a bachelor son, a young widowed daughter, the aristocratic mother, the very ailing and bedridden father, the old loyal family retainer, and the deceased, a young single mother newly employed by the family as a maid. It is a locked room mystery, as the young woman was found dead in her bed in her locked room. The son and another visitor had to fetch (do you love my Britishness there?) a ladder to climb in her window when it was clear something was wrong.
There is the usual cast of secondary characters – a shady young man from a farm nearby, a vicar, the town doctor, an eccentric rich guy, and a home for troubled (and preggers) young women, the spinster director of the home, the yearly church fête on the grounds of the big house — all the elements which make up a satisfying British detective mystery.
Although Inspector Dalgliesh came to be quite famous on both sides of the Pond, in this book, he barely figures at all, being more overshadowed by his partner, Detective-Sergeant Martin, he of the shorthand note taking role.
So, frankly, not a great book. Not even a great mystery. I figured it out fairly early on, and you know I seldom can do that, being the oblivious chick I am. Well, every at-bat can’t be a home run.
She also wrote Death Comes to Pemberly, which I hated. OK, that’s two strikes. One does so love one’s baseball metaphors.