An Unsuitable Job for a Woman

by P. D. James

Start Free Trial


Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 307

Twenty-two year old Cordelia Gray arrives at work to find that her boss, Bernie Pryde, has killed himself. In his note, he says that he learned he had cancer and decided to "take the easy way out" (by slitting his wrist); in addition, he has left her his private investigator business, of which she was recently made a partner. Soon after, Cordelia is visited by a Miss Leaming, who has come to hire Bernie on behalf of her boss, Sir Ronald Callender. Cordelia goes to Cambridge with Miss Leaming to see if Callendar would be willing to hire her instead. He is, and Callender employs Cordelia to learn why his son, Mark, hanged himself about three weeks prior. Cordelia interviews a number of people including Mark's old school friends, his bosses, his school mentor, his mother's nanny, his mother's doctor, and a few more. She has a hunch that Mark did not hang himself but that he was, rather, murdered. Cordelia learns that, because of his blood type, Mark could not possibly have been the biological son of the people believed to be his parents, and she discovers that Mark also learned this information before he died. A massive inheritance from his maternal grandfather was to be his upon his twenty-fifth birthday, and suspicions surrounding his maternity might have jeopardized this inheritance. Cordelia eventually discovers that Mark's own father killed him, and he only hired Cordelia to learn who had tampered with the scene he'd constructed in order to provide a plausible motive for a suicide. Cordelia learns that Mark's mother was really Miss Leaming, who shoots and kills Sir Ronald when she hears him confess to Cordelia that he was responsible for Mark's death, and Cordelia helps her to cover up the murder and make it seem as though Sir Ronald actually took his own life.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access