P.D. James

On Thanksgiving Day in America, one of England’s great modern writers died. P.D. James was probably best known for her mysteries featuring Adam Dalgliesh, a police commander and poet.

What set James apart from the many other English mystery authors? Perhaps it was her characters, or the way she wrote her mysteries. The ones I’ve read seem to be a bit more psychological, at least in the sense that time is spent trying to figure out why someone was murdered, and not just how and by whom. James also did an excellent job of showing what it would be like for the police to investigate, having to weed through the lies they’re told in order to find the one or two lies that really mattered, the ones covering up murder.

James apparently didn’t have a full formal education, since her father didn’t believe in that for girls. She had to start work at an early age. Later in life, she was named a life peer as Baroness James.

Her name might not be familiar to many Americans, but I would recommend her books to anyone interested in a good novel. She didn’t just write “typical” mysteries, either. She also had some thriller and dystopian books. For example, her book The Children of Men was adapted into a movie, which became quite popular. She also recently wrote Death Come to Pemberley, a mystery featuring Mr. and Mrs. Darcy, six years after Pride & Prejudice. It is an entertaining and engaging novel, one that can satisfy an avid Janeite or a mystery buff (or both).

Here is a link to an article about her, one that has some interesting comments and perspectives.


I hope you read one of P.D. James’s books some day. They are worth it.