Faber & Faber £7.99 (159pp) from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
Talking about Detective Fiction, By PD James
Friday 12 November 2010
From Wilkie Collins in The Moonstone to Edith Ngaio Marsh, PD James applies the keen eye of her hero Adam Dalgleish to the foremost practitioners of the form.
A combination of brilliant storytelling and atmosphere ("we enter into that Victorian atmosphere of fog and gaslight") explains the enduring magic of Sherlock Holmes.
Though the reader is "in general treated fairly" by Agatha Christie, "we feel that at the end of the book the victim will get up, wipe off the artificial blood and be restored to life."
Offering tips to readers (Ross Macdonald is rated higher than Raymond Chandler) and writers (Dorothy L Sayers and Christie began with eccentric detectives with whom they became disenchanted), she shows there's plenty of life left in murder.
Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treattv
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