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Extended Audio Sample Talking about Detective Fiction Audiobook, by P. D. James Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.6 out of 53.6 out of 53.6 out of 53.6 out of 53.6 out of 5 3.60 (25 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: April 2010 ISBN: 9781482979435
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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.”

    Booklist

  • “[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 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 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 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 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. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anne | 1/19/2014

    " Definitely a niche book for mystery lovers, and it really enhances the enjoyment level if you are familiar with the authors and books James emphasizes and analyzes. Some would criticize this slim volume as too British-centric, and others (including me) would describe P. D. James as too elitist by far, but whatever you think about her, there is no doubt that she knows her stuff and constructs sound and tricky puzzles/mysteries that stand the test of time - which is quite amazing considering that she was born in 1920, and her output does not appear to be faltering. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Denise | 1/17/2014

    " Wonderful book about the Golden Age in mysteries written by the best living- "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kim | 1/12/2014

    " Fascinating - it left me wanting to know more and with a list of books to look for. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Martha | 1/7/2014

    " Enjoyable and witty discussion of detective fiction, mostly the old classics, particularly British ones. I was interested to discover that P.D. James still writes her books by hand and someone else types them up.... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tom | 10/24/2013

    " interesting overview of the genre "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michelle | 9/29/2013

    " Nice quick non-fiction about main themes in mystery literature. More like a long essay, with excellent references. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jeannette | 11/3/2012

    " This book was interesting, but it is just such a drag to get through. I have a few group reads coming up, so I have to bail. It did point me to some interesting authors I haven't read. But, I was disappointed with the spoilers. She named the killers in several instances. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elizabeth | 3/10/2012

    " I lkied this book - even if for no other reason, it lists other authors and books I now want to read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Karl El-Koura | 12/25/2011

    " 4.5 stars if I could. A good, quick read surveying the landscape of detective fiction. Some of the chapters are interesting and fun, while others are chock-full of insight (I loved her discussion on the paradoxes inherent in detective fiction). Required reading for any writer of mysteries. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Karen | 10/30/2011

    " A review of the history of (primarily English) detective fiction by a master of the genre. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jeanette Johnson | 10/7/2011

    " An interesting look 'backstage'... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 JT | 5/7/2011

    " An assured guided tour of detective fiction from Conan Doyle through the Golden Age and up to today's practitioners, given with the contagious enthusiasm and gentle wisdom of Baroness James. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bruno da Maremma | 4/28/2011

    " Got some good ideas regarding detective fiction books to try. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Princessjay | 4/13/2011

    " Informative, engaging, and erudite. I laughed out loud a few times from the low-key British humor. A worthwhile read.

    If I were closing on 90, I wish I would still be able to think and write like P. D. James. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jay | 3/25/2011

    " I liked this short book describing detective fiction, mainly in a historical context, mainly in a British context. This has convinced me to read some older British detective novels, including James' own. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Keith | 3/17/2011

    " This was a pleasant examination of primarily British detective fiction of the "drawing room murder" variety. Not quite that limited in scope, but along that vein. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Teri | 2/27/2011

    " This is a brief and readable survey of the history and development of detective fiction from one of its masters. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mary Kay | 12/18/2010

    " The wonderful grande dame of detective fiction speaks eruditely of the genre. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carrie | 11/17/2010

    " LOVED this. A great review of so many titles I need to read and a good survey of the history of this genre. P.D. James is a treasure. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 DarcyMom | 10/7/2010

    " Nice quick non-fiction about main themes in mystery literature. More like a long essay, with excellent references. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 pw | 9/16/2010

    " Short and sweet. A survey of detective fiction, how it developed, and its main developers. PD James is over 90 and still writing, which is the most interesting fact about this book. "

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About the Author

P. D. James (1920–2014), English crime writer, was the author of numerous detective novels, many of which were New York Times bestsellers. She spent thirty years in various departments of the British civil service, including the Police and Criminal Law Departments of the Home Office. She has served as a magistrate and as a governor of the BBC. In 2000 she celebrated her eightieth birthday and published her autobiography, Time to Be in Earnest. The recipient of many prizes and honors, she was named Baroness James of Holland Park in 1991.

About the Narrator

Diana Bishop is an AudioFile Earphones Award–winning narrator who has worked extensively in theater, including seasons with the Royal Shakespeare Company and also for the Arts Council of Great Britain and the British Council. She has twice been a member of the BBC’s Radio Drama Company and has made many television appearances. She is also a prizewinning poet and a writer of short stories and plays for theater and radio.