On Thursday 27th. November it was announced that Phyllis Dorothy James, Lady James of Holland Park and known in the literary world as PD James, the British crime-writer who brought to life the poetry-writing detective Alan Dalgliesh, died at the age of ninety four.
She produced over twenty well-written entertaining books of serious fiction, among the best-known of which are “ The Murder Room”, “ The Lighthouse”, “ The Children of Men” and , more recently, “Death Comes to Pemberley”. Most of her creations have been made into films which appeared on television both in Britain and abroad.
She herself admitted that she had always wanted to write novels from an early age and chose this particular genre because of the intrigue of construction that it involved. Gradually she realised that she could combine the ingredients of this style with the capacity of telling truths and thoughts about people and the times they live in. For her, Detective Dalgliesh represented the admirable qualities of sensitivity, courage and intelligence applied to a profession and to life.
During her lifetime, PD James worked on the Nation Health Service, in the police department of the Home Office with the forensic science services and in the criminal policy department, as a magistrate and as a governor of the BBC and, no doubt, these experiences contributed to the growing richness and maturity of her generally well-documented subjects.Her settings were not marked by hard-boiled realism but she had a natural ability to create mystery and, with the addition of the discussion on the nature of good and evil, it is surprising to discover how literary she was. She was considered the successor to Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers and Margery Allingham but Kingsley Amis called her “Iris Murdoch with murder”.
PD James received the Crime Writers’ Association’s Diamond Dagger award in 1987 and the National Arts Club Medal of Honour for Literature in 2005.Many find her novels are very readable and entertaining. Why not try them for yourself if you like this genre.