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Summary

A Cordelia Gray Mystery.

Marking the return of Cordelia Gray, The Skull Beneath the Skin is a complex mystery which more than lives up to its predecessor, An Unsuitable Job for a Woman. Hired to protect a beautiful but neurotic actress, Cordelia Gray soon becomes embroiled in a case as dangerous to her own life as it is mysterious.

Clarissa Lisle hopes to make a spectacular comeback in a production of The Duchess of Malfi, to be played in Ambrose Gorringe's sinister castle at Courcy Island. Cordelia is there to ensure her safety following the appearance of a number of poison-pen letters. But it soon becomes clear that all are in danger. Trapped within the walls of the Gothic castle, the treacherous past of the island re-emerges, and everyone seems to have a motive for sending Clarissa 'down, down to hell'.

©1982 P.D. James (P)2014 Faber Audio

Critic reviews

"A fine novel... from its very first pages you feel you are in marvellously sure hands." ( The Times)
"A masterly version of the clue-and-alibi game ... five star." ( Guardian)

What listeners say about The Skull Beneath the Skin

Average customer ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Performance of narrator

I am appalled at the narrator’s ignorance of how to correctly pronounce even the most basic of English words, words in everyday usage, it is bizarre. There were some errors in book one, sadly book two was littered with them, it being a longer production and so greater opportunities for Ms Scarfe’s ridiculous mispronunciation. I love PD James or I would have just given up, but of course it marred the enjoyment of listening to these books. At least I know to avoid this narrator in the future, regardless of how much I like a book.

9 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Surprised to be disappointed

I've enjoyed reading all the author's Adam Dalgliesh novels and the first Cordelia Gray story, but was disappointed by this one. It's weighed down by too much adjective-laden description of things unnecessary for the story which slows the action to being boring at times. The actual story verges on the preposterous.
I have mixed feeling about the narrator who at times overdoes screechy voices making them caricatures.

9 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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Doesnt Fit

Set in the 70s/80s it feels more like the 1920s in both the writing and narration.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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Almost gothic

A really atmospheric story - beautifully written - but I am not keen on the narrator.

2 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Disappointing

Not P D James’s best story. Very slow with no pace. I did not like the reader at all. Her voice is irritating and characterisations poor. Very disappointing in every way.

1 person found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Just altogether just too too tedious.

It seems on fair to write a review on the story or my overall opinion as having suffered for over an hour expecting something to happen or at least some clue as to whether or not there is going to be a story of some description I’m giving up.

The whole thing might be salvageable were the narrator not a highly pitched voice better suited to what I can only describe as a girly romance.

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Disappointing

Over long. Disappointing ending, characters were unoriginal and clichéd as was the storyline. I really wouldn’t recommend. Not PD James’s finest hour.

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Dissapointing

I totally agree with the other three reviews on this book. Too many irrelevant repeated descriptive passages making the book boring at times. The narrator had problems with pronunciation (gunwale - gunnel for example) which became annoying. Perhaps her presentation would be more suitable for a romantic novel than a murder mystery.
The story didn't gather pace till the last few chapters.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Found it so difficult to concentrate on

Just wasn’t as engaging a storyline as her other Cordelia grey book.

Performed well but it was a bit meh

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Good story spoils by narrator

What did you like best about The Skull Beneath the Skin? What did you like least?

PD James in good form. Narrator should learn how to pronounce certain English words. I.e gunwhale is pronounced gunnel. Aubretia is pronounced aubresha. Borscht does not have the t pronounced.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Cordelia Grey. A private eye caught up in something far more sinister than lost cats.

Would you be willing to try another one of Katie Scarfe’s performances?

No. Not for this type of book. Murder needs a less soppy voice. Would be better reading romantic chick lit. She must work on her pronounciation. She nearly spoilt the whole book for me.

Do you think The Skull Beneath the Skin needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

No. Unless one could be written giving Ambrose Gorringe his come uppance.

Any additional comments?

None.

4 people found this helpful