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Extended Audio Sample Talking about Detective Fiction, by P. D. James Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (616 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: P. D. James Narrator: Diana Bishop Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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To judge by the worldwide success of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie’s Poirot, it is not only the Anglo-Saxons who have an appetite for mystery and mayhem. Talking about the craft of detective writing and sharing her personal thoughts and observations on one of the most popular and enduring forms of literature, P. D. James examines the challenges, achievements, and potential of a genre which has fascinated her for nearly fifty years as a novelist. P. D. James explores the metamorphosis of a genre which has gripped and entertained the popular imagination like no other type of novel. Written by the author widely regarded as the queen of the detective novel, this book is sure to appeal to all aficionados of crime fiction.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “P. D. James is the undisputed grande dame of the modern mystery…She presents an energetic, insightful, and often witty history of the genre.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Fascinating…Her writing shows a vast knowledge and abiding love for the genre she describes.”

    USA Today

  • “A master class on British mysteries…It’s hard to imagine a better guide.”

    Christian Science Monitor

  • “Anyone who is interested in P. D. James’s own fiction will want to read this, but it stands in its own right as a deeper, more thoughtful enquiry into what it is we get out of detective fiction…Elegant and thoughtful.”

    Independent (London)

  • “It’s like sitting across from P. D. James over tea, and that, naturally, is a delight.”


  • “[P.D. James’s] literary sensibility—calm observation and exact description—is on ample display here.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “An amiable, personal appreciation of the genre by someone who has been one of its most accomplished and popular exponents.”

    Times (London)

  • “An avid book-length essay on the roots, ethics, and methods of the detective story…Her opinions are often surprising and determinedly contrary…Refreshingly outspoken.”

    New York Times

  • Winner of the 2010 Anthony Award for Best Critical Nonfiction Work
  • Winner of the 2010 Macavity Award for Best Mystery Nonfiction
  • A 2009 Agatha Award Finalist for Best Nonfiction
  • A 2010 Edgar Allan Poe Award Nominee for Best Critical/Biographical Work

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Adam | 2/18/2014

    " James's brief overview of detective fiction at first seems to promise a basic survey of, largely, English entries in the genre, but it turns out to be more a minor, lightly-informative sampling. The book's main value will be to James's fans and to novice readers in the genre, and that value is in some scattered but very substantial insights and a few generous handfuls of places to look for first-rate reads. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Stephen | 2/14/2014

    " Although British-cenric, this is still a damn fine read for those interested in how we got from Wilkie Collins to Ian Rankin. P.D. James, it should be noted, is 89, and her powers seem undiminished. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Mimi Stamper | 2/7/2014

    " Excellent primer on the evolution of detective fiction. Now I have about twenty more books to read as suggested by P.D.James. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Pat | 1/29/2014

    " Very interesting small book from the renowned detective fiction writer, P. D. James. Sort of a history/study of detective fiction, its origins, a review of some its best practitioners - though very heavily oriented to English writers. Interesting how she almost totally ignores Agatha Christie - just a few passing mentions. Obviously, Ms. Christie was not a model for Ms. James. "

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