Deep mysteries

The world of P. D. James

Time to Be in Earnest, by P. D. James

Though often compared with Agatha Christie, P. D. James is a different kind of detective writer. She is not chiefly concerned with escapist delight. While fulfilling the page-turning requirements of the mystery novel, she also creates characters who have moral complexity and depth. She reveals their tangled motives through careful attention to their bodily gestures and their ambient scene no less than their words and their deeds. The thick social texture of James’s novels makes them resemble the fiction of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, George Eliot and Anthony Trollope.


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