Detective Inspector Adam Dalgliesh first enters the world of mystery about 50 pages into P.D. James' 1962 novel Cover Her Face when he is sent out by Scotland Yard to investigate a death among the gentry at an isolated, luxurious country estate.
Even then, his reputation precedes him. "I've heard of him," one of the suspects muses as the tall, dark, and handsome detective arrives at the crime scene. "Ruthless, unorthodox, working always against time. I suppose he has his own private compulsions. At least they've thought us adversaries worthy of the best."
Dalgliesh may indeed be the best Scotland Yard has to offer these days. His reputation for never theorizing ahead of the facts is legendary, yet his success at solving complex cases in record time is astonishing. He's more experienced than Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison, for instance, and much less trouble-prone. And he's the equal in every way of Inspector Morse, without the endearing imperfections. All of that may accouunt for the string of promotions that have raised him to the rank of commander, in charge of a special unit of the Metropolitan Police that handles only the most "sensitive" murder cases. In fact, along the corridors of power at New Scotland Yard, the worst you will hear about Commander Dalgliesh is that he may be a litttle hard to know. He's an intense, rather solitary man whose taciturnity often is interpreted as intimidating aloofness.
The preceding is an excerpt taken from the book,
MYSTERY!: A Celebration, by Ron Miller
(published by KQED Books).
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