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P. D. James was born in Oxford in 1920 and educated at Cambridge High School for Girls. From 1949 to 1968 she worked in the National Health Service and subsequently in the Home Office, first in the Police Department and later in the Criminal Policy Department. All that experience has been used in her novels. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Royal Society of the Arts and has served as a Governor of the BBC, a member of the Arts Council, where she was Chairman of its Literary Advisory Panel, on the Board of the British Council and as a magistrate in Middlesex and London. She has won awards for crime writing in Britain, America, Italy and Scandinavia, including the Mystery Writers of America Grandmaster Award. She has received honorary degrees from seven British universities, was awarded an OBE in 1983 and was created a life peer in 1991. In 1997 she was elected President of the Society of Authors.
P. D. James died in November 2014.
Photograph © Ulla Montan
As the acknowledged 'Queen of Crime', P. D. James was frequently commissioned by newspapers and magazines to write a special short story for Christmas. Four of the best of these have been drawn from the archives and published here. P. D. James' prose illuminates each of these perfectly formed stories, making them ideal reading for the darkest days of the year. While she delights in the secrets that lurk beneath the surface at family gatherings, her Christmas stories also provide tantalizing puzzles to keep the reader guessing. P. D. James embraces the challenge of the short-story form, and ingeniously weaves the strands of plot, setting, characterisation and surprise to create a satisfying whole within only a few thousand words.
Inspired by a lifelong passion for the work of Jane Austen, P.D. James masterfully recreates the world of Pride and Prejudice , and combines it with the excitement and suspense of a brilliantly-crafted crime story. Death Comes to Pemberley is a distinguished work of fiction, from one of the best-loved, most- read writers of our time.
Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 8 December 2011. Inspired by a lifelong passion for the work of Jane Austen, PD James masterfully recreates the world of Pride and Prejudice, and combines it with the excitement and suspense of a brilliantly-crafted crime story.
Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 9 December 2010. P. D. James and T. A. Critchley piece together the evidence of an early 19th century murder case in this fascinating book.
Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 23 October 2008. PD James is still at the top of her game at the ripe old age of 88. Great plotlines of murder and mystery and plenty of characters to get your teeth in to and as always Adam Dalgliesh to solve the crime.
This eagerly awaited successor to The Murder Room displays the qualities which aficionados have come to expect of P.D. James: sensitive characterisation, an exciting and superbly structured plot and vivid evocation of place. The Lighthouse is a subtle and powerful work of contemporary fiction.Comparison: Nicci French, Elizabeth George, Laura Wilson.
Combe Island off the Cornish coast offers a peaceful and secure respite to the over-stressed professionals who holiday there. But their peace is violated when one of the distinguished visitors is found hanging in the island's lighthouse, and the islanders realise it is murder, not suicide. As Adam Dalgliesh arrives to investigate, a second murder is discovered and the whole case is jepoardised by a new danger on the island, one more insidious and as potentially fatal as murder.
Commander Adam Dalgliesh is already acquainted with the Dupayne Museum in Hampstead, and with its sinister murder room celebrating notorious crimes committed in the interwar years, when he is called to investigate the killing of one of the trustees. He soon discovers that the victim was seeking to close the museum against the wishes of both staff and fellow trustees. Everyone, it seems, has something to gain from the crime. When it becomes clear that the killer is prepared to kill again, inspired by the real-life crimes from the murder room, Dalgliesh knows that to solve this case he has to get into the mind of a ruthless killer.
When the body of a theology student is found on a desolate stretch of East Anglican coast, his wealthy father demands that Scotland Yard should re-examine the verdict of accidental death. Commander Adam Dalgliesh agrees to pay a visit to the young man's theological college, St Anselm's, a place he knew as a boy, expecting no more than a nostalgic return to old haunts and a straightforward examination of the evidence. Instead he finds himself embroiled in intrigue, conflict and dangerous secrets as the college is torn apart by a sacrilegious and horrifying murder.
When a young girl is found murdered in a field, the scientific examination of the exhibits is just a routine job for the staff of Hoggatt's forensic science laboratory. But nothing could have prepared them for the brutal death of one of their own. When the senior biologist is found dead in his laboratory Commander Dalgliesh is called to the bleak fens of East Anglia, where the murderer is lying in wait to strike again.
A Cordelia Gray Mystery Hired to protect a beautiful but neurotic actress, Cordelia Gray soon becomes embroiled in a case as dangerous to her own life as it is mysterious. Clarissa Lisle hopes to make a spectacular comeback in a production of The Duchess of Malfi, to be played in Ambrose Gorringe's sinister castle at Courcy Island. Cordelia is there to ensure her safety following the appearance of a number of poison-pen letters. But it soon becomes clear that all are in danger. Trapped within the walls of the Gothic castle, the treacherous past of the island re-emerges, and everyone seems to have a motive for sending Clarissa 'down, down to hell'. Marking the return of Cordelia Gray, The Skull beneath the Skin is a complex mystery which more than lives up to its predecessor, An Unsuitable Job for a Woman.
From the birth of crime writing with Wilkie Collins and Dostoevsky, through Conan Doyle to the golden age of crime, with the rise of Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh and Margery Allingham, P. D. James brings a lifetime of reading and writing crime fiction to bear on this personal history of the genre. There are chapters on great American crime writers - the likes of Patricia Highsmith, Raymond Chandler and Dashiel Hammett. James also discusses many of her favourite famous detectives, from Sherlock Holmes to Philip Marlowe. P.D. James, the bestselling author of Death Comes to Pemberley, Children of Men and The Murder Room, presents a brief history of detective fiction and explores the literary techniques behind history's best crime writing.
Meet Cordelia Gray: twenty-two, tough, intelligent and now sole inheritor of the Pryde Detective Agency. Her first assignment finds her hired by Sir Ronald Callender to investigate the death of his son Mark, a young Cambridge student found hanged in mysterious circumstances. Required to delve into the hidden secrets of the Callender family, Cordelia soon realises it is not a case of suicide, and that the truth is entirely more sinister.
Commander Dalgliesh is recuperating from a life-threatening illness when he receives a call for advice from an elderly friend who works as a chaplain in a home for the disabled on the Dorset coast. Dalgliesh arrives to discover that Father Baddeley has recently and mysteriously died, as has one of the patients at Toynton Grange. Evidently the home is not quite the caring community it purports to be. Dalgliesh is determined to discover the truth of his friend's death, but further fatalities follow and his own life is in danger as he unmasks the evil at the heart of Toynton Grange.
The young women of Nightingale House are there to learn to nurse and comfort the suffering. But when one of the students plays patient in a demonstration of nursing skills, she is horribly, brutally killed. Another student dies equally mysteriously and it is up to Adam Dalgliesh to unmask a killer who has decided to prescribe murder as the cure for all ills.
A piercing scream, shattering the evening calm, brings Superintendent Adam Dalgliesh hurrying from his literary party to the nearby Steen Psychiatric Clinic, where he discovers the body of a woman sprawled on the basement floor, a chisel thrust through her heart. As Dalgliesh probes beneath the apparently unruffled calm of the clinic, he discovers that many an intrigue lies hidden behind the Georgian terrace's unassuming facade. Professionally, he has never known the taste of failure. Now, for the first time, he feels unsure of his own mastery as he battles to unmask a cool killer who is proving to be his intellectual equal, and who is poised to strike again.
St Cedd's Church fete has been held in the grounds of Martingale manor house for generations. As if organising stalls, as well as presiding over luncheon, the bishop and the tea tent, were not enough for Mrs Maxie on that mellow July afternoon, she also has to contend with the news of her son's sudden engagement to her new parlour maid, Sally Jupp. On the following morning the village are shocked by the discover of Sally's body. Investigating the violent death at the manor house, Detective Chief-Inspector Adam Dalgliesh is embroiled in the complicated passions beneath the calm surface of English village life.
Superintendent Adam Dalgliesh has been looking forward to a quiet holiday at his aunt's cottage on Monksmere Head, one of the furthest-flung spots on the remote Suffolk coast. With nothing to do other than enjoy long windswept walks, tea in front of a crackling wood fire and hot-buttered toast, Dalgliesh is relishing the thought of a well-earned break. However, all hope of peace is soon shattered by murder. The mutilated body of a local crime writer, Maurice Seaton, floats ashore in a dinghy, dragging Adam Dalgliesh into a new and macabre investigation.
A stand-alone thriller from P. D. James. Philippa Palfrey, adopted as a child, believes herself to be the motherless, illegitimate daughter of an aristocratic father. At eighteen she exercises her right to find out the truth. What she discovers will change her life forever. Philippa enters a new and terrifying world and soon comes to realize that she is not the only one interested in her parents' whereabouts. Innocent Blood is both a mystery and a thriller, a superb novel that explores the themes of self-identity and the meaning of life.
Winner of the CWA Crime Awards Silver Dagger Two men lie in a welter of blood in the vestry of St Matthew's Church, Paddington, thier throats brutally slashed. One is Sir Paul Berowne, a baronet and recently-resigned Minister of the Crown, the other an alcoholic vagrant. Dalgliesh and his team, set up to investigate crimes of particular sensitivity, are faced with a case of extraordinary complexity as they discover the Berowne family's veneer of prosperous gentility conceals ugly and dangerous secrets.
An Adam Dalgliesh Mystery The Peverell Press, a two-hundred-year-old publishing firm housed in a dramatic mock-Venetian palace on the Thames, is certainly ripe for change. But the proposals of its ruthlessly ambitious new managing director, Gerard Etienne, have made him dangerous enemies - a discarded mistress, a neglected and humiliated author, and rebellious colleagues and staff. When Gerard's body is discovered bizarrely desecrated, there is no shortage of suspects and Dalgliesh and his team are confronted with a puzzle of extraordinary complexity and a murderer who is prepared to strike again.
Faber Stories, a landmark series of individual volumes, presents masters of the short story form at work in a range of genres and styles. On the whole, it was easier than I had expected. Only once did I feel myself at risk. That was when the Inspector suddenly intervened. He said in a harsh voice: He married your wife, didn't he? Took her away from you some people might say. Nice piece of goods, too, by the look of her. Didn't you feel any grievance? I had been expecting this question. I knew exactly what I would say. The late, great P. D. James takes us inside the mind of a murderer. Bringing together past, present and future in our ninetieth year, Faber Stories is a celebratory compendium of collectable work.