The Skull Beneath the Skin by P.D. James

By P.D. James

Deepest detective Cordelia grey is invited to the sunlit island of Courcy to guard the vainly appealing actress Clarissa Lisle from veiled threats on her existence. in the rose crimson partitions of a fairy-tale citadel, she unearths the level is decided for loss of life. "Richly elaborate and literate," James's moment Cordelia grey secret "shows James on the peak of her storytelling powers" (San Francisco Chronicle).

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That's how she knows she can trust you. She was having tea with a Mrs Fortescue last week when you returned the Fortescue cat - Solomon I think the brute's called. Apparently you found him within thirty minutes of beginning the search so your bill was correspondingly small. Mrs Fortescue is devoted to the animal. You could have charged treble. She wouldn't have queried it. ' Cordelia said: 'We're rather expensive. We have to be. ' She remembered the drawing-room in Eaton Square, a feminine room if femininity implies softness and luxury; a cluttered, cosy repository of silver-framed photographs, an over-lavish tea on a low table in front of the Adam fireplace, too many flowers conventionally arranged.

The eyes which scrutinized her (not, she felt, unbenignly) were keen under the bushy eyebrows. The left brow was held higher than the right and she saw that he had a habit of twitching his brows and working the corners of the long mouth; it gave his face a restlessness which was singularly at variance with the stillness of his body and which made it slightly embarrassing for her to meet his eyes. ' She watched without speaking while he put down the briefcase he was carrying, took from a pocket a pen and his wallet, found a card, and wrote on the back of it in an upright, rather schoolboyish hand.

Cordelia recalled yellow hair intricately piled and wound above a tall forehead, a small, bee-stung mouth, and immense eyes, deep-set but with heavy, almost swollen, lids. She had seemed to impose on the lush conformity of the room a hieratic and angular grace, a distinction which, despite the plainness of the formal suede suit, hinted at some histrionic or eccentric individuality. She had gravely bent her head and watched her friend's effusions with a half-mocking smile. Despite her stillness there had been no impression of peace.

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The Skull Beneath the Skin by P.D. James
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