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Talking about Detective Fictionby P. D. James
Synopses & Reviews
In a perfect marriage of author and subject, P. D. James—one of the most widely admired writers of detective fiction at work today—gives us a personal, lively, illuminating exploration of the human appetite for mystery and mayhem, and of those writers who have satisfied it.
P. D. James examines the genre from top to bottom, beginning with the mysteries at the hearts of such novels as Charles Dickens’s Bleak House and Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White, and bringing us into the present with such writers as Colin Dexter and Henning Mankell. Along the way she writes about Arthur Conan Doyle, Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie (“arch-breaker of rules”), Josephine Tey, Dashiell Hammett, and Peter Lovesey, among many others. She traces their lives into and out of their fiction, clarifies their individual styles, and gives us indelible portraits of the characters they’ve created, from Sherlock Holmes to Sara Paretsky’s sexually liberated female investigator, V. I. Warshawski. She compares British and American Golden Age mystery writing. She discusses detective fiction as social history, the stylistic components of the genre, her own process of writing, how critics have reacted over the years, and what she sees as a renewal of detective fiction—and of the detective hero—in recent years.
There is perhaps no one who could write about this enduring genre of storytelling with equal authority and flair: it is essential reading for every lover of detective fiction.
The award-winning International Crime Writers Hall of Fame author of such works as The Children of Men and Original Sin presents a high-energy analysis of her literary genre and the works of some of its most noteworthy authors.
Talking About Detective Fiction is fascinating. It's as rich in characters and literary detail as the novels that have made P. D. James famous . . . Her writing shows a vast knowledge and abiding love for the genre she describes.&rdquo
About the Author
P. D. James is the author of twenty previous books, most of which have been filmed and broadcast on television in the United States and other countries. She spent thirty years in various departments of the British Civil Service, including the Police and Criminal Law Departments of Great Britain’s Home Office. She has served as a magistrate and as a governor of the BBC. In 2000 she celebrated her eightieth birthday and published her autobiography, Time to Be in Earnest. The recipient of many prizes and honors, she was created Baroness James of Holland Park in 1991 and was inducted into the International Crime Writing Hall of Fame in 2008. She lives in London and Oxford.
Table of Contents
What are we talking about and how did it all begin? — The tenant of 221B Baker Street and the parish priest from Cobhole in Essex — The Golden Age — Soft-centered and hard-boiled — Four formidable women — Telling the story : setting, viewpoint, people — Critics and aficionados : why some don't enjoy them and why others do — Today and a glimpse of tomorrow.
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