It is with sadness that I hear of the death of the geat British novelist P.D. James at the grand old age of 94. In my review of Serial Detectives earlier this year, I noted that, once I had discovered James’ work, I had devoured them whole.
I regret that in the obituaries today she is invariably called a “mystery” novelist. While it is true that her earliest works are classic and rather simple Agatha Christie country-house-murder style books, and her primary protagonist is a policeman, that was the least of it. Like the very best of her kind (Laurence Gough, Michael Dibdin), James grew into her craft and transcended the genre to become simply a great novelist. “A Taste For Death” (1986) and “Devices and Desires” (1989) were probably the tipping points in that evolution, at least for me.
P.D. James overcame very difficult personal and family crises in her early life to become the Baroness James of Holland Park and a formidable literary power. A fine life.