"An Unsuitable Job For a Woman" is not just the best P.D. James crime novel I've read. It is absolutely one of the finest crime novels I've read by any author. It is also one of the finest novels (crime or not) I've read this year.
The plot keeps us guessing through a wild ride of surprises that do not stop, not even in the final pages. James' characters are always fully and well drawn, but here she really outdoes herself. From the title character, Cordelia Gray, the sole owner (against her will) of a detective agency, to every suspect, to the police superintendent (James' already famous Adam Dalgliesh) to those "minor" characters who help Gray "solve" (if "solve" is the correct word) this heinous crime and who appear in only one chapter. They are all human beings, complicated and not easily categorized, nor judged. Even the "well brought-up gentleman," Mark Callender, whose suicide Gray is hired to investigate, is as complex a character you'll find in any work of modern fiction, although we never really meet him since he is dead weeks before the novel begins.
Gray's empathy with people in trouble, her desire to do right by her client and by the dead man with whom she has no previous history, her knowledge of what is good & moral and what is not all combine to make her a fascinating protagonist. And sadly, very much like the detective Dana Andrews played in the brilliant film noir, "Laura," Gray falls in love with the man whose death she is looking into. I want very much to read the other novels of James in which she appears. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.