Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 361
P.D. James is the author of the 1972 detective novel An Unsuitable Job for a Woman. The novel focuses on the young private detective Cordelia Gray who inherits her partner's failing detective agency and his unlicensed handgun. There are four quotes in chapter one of the novel which James crafts to establish Cordelia Gray.
James establishes the idea that Gray is orderly and punctual, which are characteristics essential to Gray's investigations:
The hurry she knew was irrational, a symptom of her obsession with order and punctuality. There were no appointments booked: no clients to be interviewed; no case outstanding; not even a final report to be written.
The next two quotes show that Gray is very level-headed. The first quote shows a young woman faced with the gruesome suicide of her partner, and she maintains the composure to make sound decisions:
She put her head round the office door and said quietly: "Mr. Pryde is dead; don't come in. I'll ring the police from here."
The telephone message was taken calmly, someone would come round. Sitting beside the body to wait and feeling that she needed to make some gesture of pity and comfort Cordelia laid her hand gently on Bernie's hair.
This second quote shows her level-headed nature reflected by how others perceive her:
The first policeman to arrive was efficient but young, not yet experienced enough to hide his shock and distaste at the sight of violent death nor his disapproval that Cordelia should be so calm.
In the last quote, James shows Gray's respectful and self-assured nature.
"I'll have to keep this note for the present, Miss. What did he get up to here?"
"He didn't get up to anything. This was his office. He was a private detective."
"And you worked for this Mr. Pryde? You were his secretary?"
"l was his partner. It says so in the note. I'm twenty-two. Bernie was the senior partner; he started the business. He used to work for the Metropolitan Police in the C.I.D. with Superintendent Dalgliesh. "
Gray is obviously disgusted with the young officer's lack of tact and professionalism, yet she clearly and calmly answers his questions.
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