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Friday, August 3, 2018

Leading A 'Restoration Of Order'

“In 1930s mysteries, all sorts of motives were credible which aren't credible today, especially motives of preventing guilty sexual secrets from coming out.  Nowadays, people sell their guilty sexual secrets.” – P. D. James

Phyllis Dorothy James, born on this date in 1920 and known professionally as P. D. James, was an English crime writer who rose to fame for her series of detective novels starring police commander and poet Adam Dalgliesh.

James also rose from a life of poverty that forced her to leave school as a teenager in order to help support her family.  By the late 1940s, struggling by then to raise her own family she worked two jobs, cared for two young children, and returned to school, earning a degree in hospital administration.    It was while working in that field that she began writing in the late 1950s, had several essays published, and came out with her first novel, Cover Her Face, which introduced Dalgleisch and jump-started one of the most successful writing careers in history.       Her last Dalgleish novel, The Private Patient, came out shortly before her death in 2014. 

Inducted into the International Crime Writing Hall of Fame, James wrote 20 novels and short story collections and also a “how-to” on crime writing, Talking About Detective Fiction.  “ What the detective story is about,” she said,  “is not murder, but the restoration of order.”

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