Farewell to PD James

PD James (image: Random House)

PD James (image: Random House)

News reaches Fedora that PD (Phyllis Dorothy) James, creator of Adam Dalgliesh and Cordelia Gray, has died at the age of 94. She made her debut in 1962 with Cover Her Face and was soon trumpeted as a major innovator for her utilisation of real surrounding and a more naturalistic style, and usually mentioned in the same breath as Ruth Rendell. More recently she had come to be seen as a bastion of the more traditional whodunit, perhaps the fate of any innovator who around for long enough – though Rendell succeeded better perhaps in keeping up with the times.

She did though successfully branch out into other genres beyond the detective story, including psychological suspense (Innocent Blood and The Skull Beneath the Skin), the historical mystery (a Jane Austen follow-up, Death Comes to Pemberley) and even science fiction with Children of Men.

Many of her books were filmed for television and the cinema, most notably the long-running TV series starring Roy Marsden as Adam Dalgliesh and Alfonso Cuaron’s highly impressive version of Children of Men.

The ultimate accolade perhaps is that after 50 years as a published author, all her work is in print and still being read.

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20 Responses to Farewell to PD James

  1. So very sad to hear this, Sergio. Truly she was one of the greats of the genre, and she will be very, very much missed…

  2. MarinaSofia says:

    Ah, she’ll be very much missed! I wonder if she ever realised her wish to complete one last Dalgliesh…

    • She did say she was working on one more last year, but I suspect Death at Pemberley will be her last completed novel, though it would be fascinating to know what she has leftbehind.

  3. Sad to hear, one of the true greats of the genre is gone.

  4. kaggsysbookishramblings says:

    Very sad news – she did seem rather indestructible…

    • But she had an enviable career once it took off int he 80s and I think, from that point of view, did enviably well and remained in the limelight right to end – pretty good going.

  5. tracybham says:

    Thanks for this, Sergio, I had not heard. I loved her books, read most of them twice. She had a wonderful career.

  6. Colin says:

    One of the big names in crime writing – she had a long and illustrious career.

  7. Roberta Rood says:

    Sergio,
    Thanks for this post. I love your blog and have added it to my blogroll.

  8. Sergio, thanks for letting me know. I didn’t know she had passed away. I may have read a couple of her books a long time ago.

    • Definitely worth taking another look Prashant – my personal favourites of the Dalgliesh series are probably Death of an Expert Witness and Taste for Death

      • Thanks for the recommendation, Sergio. I don’t know much about her work, which is one of the perils of reading authors randomly and forgetting all about them.

        • Tell me about it chum – one reads all these wonderful blogs and suddenly there is just too much information to process – but James was an important crime authors in the 70s – worth a look I would think. She only wrote few short stories though.

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