“But one thing in particular sets P. D. James apart from the mainstream tradition of Golden Age English crime fiction, with its stately homes and bourgeois villages where reality never rears its ill-mannered head. She understands that murder is nasty and brutal, that it is fueled by the most malevolent of motives, and she’s not afraid to face that darkness head on.”
In the preface of the edition of “The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories” by Val McDermid.
I’m very particular in what I read fiction-wise, and therefore I avoid most genre fiction. P.D. James, however, brought such grace and style to the mystery that I became a true fan. This is the last P. D. James I hadn’t read yet (it was published this year, collecting some of her short fiction). Back in the day, I’d to pace myself slowly to make them last because I knew in my heart she wouldn’t last forever... P. D. James was so brilliant that the Agatha Christies I read as a teen now seem flat and characterless. Christie was at least a good plotter, but James was better. She produced the kind of thing that I liked. I continued to read her books just to see if she would ever allow Adam Dalgliesh to be truly happy and settled (he will be floating in a kind of limbo state now, nothing in his personal life resolved).
If you're into Crime Fiction, read on.