Saturday, July 7, 2012
Talking About Detective Fiction by P. D. James
P. D. James is one of my favorite authors. I was introduced to her work by Masterpiece Theater on PBS, which many years ago broadcast the film version of An Unsuitable Job for a Woman. I loved the film and when I found it was based on book, ran out and got the book. (I don't mind reading book even I already know the ending. For me it's more about the journey, and how the author gets me from the beginning to the end.) After reading that first book, I was hooked and made a point to read all of James's fiction.
This is the first of James's nonfiction works that I've read. It is not a definitive book on the subject of detective fiction, but is rather like a love letter to the genre. She introduces some of the key writers in the field and the detectives they created, and also provides a bit of insight into her own writing process. For anyone who is a fan of James's work or of detective fiction, this short read is definitely worthwhile.
P. D. James has written several novels. Her most famous detective is Adam Dalgliesh who finds time to write poetry in between solving murder cases. Although I love the Dalgliesh books, I am more partial to Cordelia Gray, an amateur private detective. Unfortunately Gray is featured in only two of James's work: An Unsuitable Job for a Woman and The Skull Beneath the Skin. Other favorites include Original Sin, The Children of Men and The Private Patient.