Talking About Detective Fiction
The Bodleian Library / Faber and Faber(October 2009)
Readers worldwide have demonstrated an appetite for murder, mystery and mayhem. Talking about the craft of detective writing and sharing her personal thoughts and observations on one of the most popular and enduring forms of literature, P.D. James examines the challenges, achievements and potential of a genre which has fascinated her for nearly fifty years as a novelist.
From Sherlock Holmes to Miss Marple, from the Golden Age of detective writing between the wars to the achievements of the present and a glimpse at the future, P.D. James explores the metamorphosis of a genre which has gripped and entertained the popular imagination like no other type of novel.
Written by the author widely regarded as the queen of the detective novel, and making frequent reference to her own work, this book is sure to appeal to all aficionados of crime writing.
The paperback was published on 7th October 2010
‘Detective fiction and its close cousin crime fiction have enduring popular appeal, and their readers apply exacting critical standards. The genres are elegantly dissected by Baroness James.’ -- Times
‘For crime fiction fans, this master class from one of the leading practitioners of the art will be a real treat.’ -- Publishers Weekly
‘It is P.D. James's longevity, as well as her serene intelligence, that makes this book especially noteworthy and enjoyable, for at 89 she has grown up with the Golden Age of detective fiction as well as made a substantial contribution to it. Perhaps the best meditation on the deep-seated charms and satisfactions of the genre since Auden's essay, "The Gentle Art of Murder", it comes to us from the mind of somebody steeped in nearly a century of literature ... Anyone who is interested in James's own fiction will want to read this, but it stands in its own right as a deeper, more thoughtful enquiry into what it is we get out of detective fiction.’ -- Independent
‘Ms. James can deliver a backhanded compliment almost as lethally as she can conjure a murder weapon... Thus dispelling any doubts as to whether the nearly 90-year-old, demure-looking Ms. James has the toughness to dissect the world of crime writing, TALKING ABOUT DETECTIVE FICTION [offers] many precise examples of what Ms. James admires and what she doesn’t. Her opinions are often surprising and determinedly contrary.’ -- New York Times
‘Elegant and thoughtful...’ -- Independent