An unsuitable job for a woman by P. D. James – book review

Soon after dropping out of university, Mark Challender was found hanging from the ceiling, faint traces of lipstick on his lips. Pryde Agency is hired by his father, a renown scientist, to find out what led 365307.jpghim to suicide, however the private investigator, Cordelia Grey, finds the scent of murder. Her Agency partner agency killed himself, leaving her the business so it is up to Cordelia to undertake such’An unsuitable job for a woman’ and find the truth.

Cordelia Gray is by no means a formidable character, she doesn’t invite the reader to care for her a great deal, much like her interaction with the other characters. She is quite shy and unsure of herself, however, as the story progresses and she slowly find validation, her strength comes shining
through. The deeper she goes into this case, the more she discovers about herself, realising that in fact she is a very suitable woman for this job, drawing upon her skills and wit hqdefaultto discover the truth. This is the side of her that I admired, that against all odds and doubts, she gets the job done. Character interaction was a bit too stiff and bleak, giving the impression that characters did not give a damn about each other, nobody felt insulted or outraged.


The plot was ok, kept the reader curious as to what really happened almost until the end – red-herringI figured out the ‘Why dunnit’ and ‘Who dunnit’ soon after she discusses with Nanny Pilbeam. In fairness, I was not that impressed with the ‘Why’ and the ‘How’, but I did like the red herrings thrown about and how it all tied up nicely together. The writing style was excessively flowery, highlighting details that had no meaning or purpose for the story or its characters – more often than not skipped meaningless passages about the table cloth and furnishing arrangements.

Dislikes: 1. The time period when the novel took place was never mentioned and I assumed, due to the dated dialogue, that the events took place about 30 years earlier than it did!

2. The end – I didn’t like that Cordelia broke character for someone that she did not even like, or admire! Major faux pas! I did not like the ending at all and, try as I might, I could not find any justification or inclination as to why uDNqsKsshe did it.

3. I was also annoyed that after the truth is discovered, characters suddenly come forward to Cordelia to fill her in with details that she didn’t stand a chance of finding out otherwise! Really?! Facepalm!

Therefore, I am ….





PS: I do appreciate that the story was published in 1972, and it might have appealed more to the readers at the time, however I was born in ’89!




One thought on “An unsuitable job for a woman by P. D. James – book review

  1. A bit of historical perspective might help, even if you were born in 1989. Yes, the book is dated, and yes, Cordelia’s a bit of a pill, but this was a very important (and even almost revolutionary at the time) book in the development of the mystery genre.


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