Speed Reads

Rest in peace

Crime novelist P.D. James dies at 94

P.D. James, the British crime novelist behind works like Innocent Blood, The Children of Men, and Death Comes to Pemberly, has died of undisclosed causes. She was 94.

James leaves behind a legacy of 19 novels and several works of non-fiction. Fourteen of her novels centered on Scotland Yard commander Adam Dalgliesh, her most enduring protagonist, who was introduced in 1962's Cover Her Face and last appeared in 2008's The Private Patient.

In a recent interview with The Paris Review, James explained why she spent her career writing crime novels. "A detective story is very easy to write badly but difficult to write well," she said. "There is so much you have to fit into eighty or ninety-thousand words — not just creating a puzzle, but an atmosphere, a setting, characters... Then when the first one worked, I continued, and I came to believe that it is perfectly possible to remain within the constraints and conventions of the genre and be a serious writer, saying something true about men and women and their relationships and the society in which they live."