Mystery of evil

Sin in the novels of P. D. James

The archbishop of Canterbury recently observed that “P. D. James is our most Augustinian writer.” James’s reflections in her 2009 book Talking About Detective Fiction justify Rowan Williams’s claim. She writes that murder mysteries have an immense appeal because they treat the final crime: the intentional taking of human life, an evil that allows no earthly reparation. The title of one of her own widely admired murder mysteries, Original Sin, reveals her conviction that homicide has its roots in a primeval twisting of our native desire for God.


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