P.D. James – A #Writing Life of Crime

This is my last post for 2014, and in looking back over the year I wanted to remember one of the writers who died this year, British crime writer P.D. James. She was 94 yrs old.

P.D. James

Phyllis Dorothy James, Baroness James of Holland Park, (3 August 1920 – 27 November 2014), known as P. D. James, was one of the first crime writers I ever read. Although P.D. James didn’t publish her first book until she was 42, she went on to become one of the most prolific crime writer’s in the UK and took the  genre far beyond her predecessors of Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers.

Many of P.D. James’s novels take place against the backdrop of UK bureaucracies, such as the criminal justice system and the National Health Service, in which she worked for decades starting in the 1940s. Two years after the publication of Cover Her Face in 1962,  she took a position as a civil servant within the criminal section of the Home Office. She worked in government service until her retirement in 1979.

I thought this quote was great for looking back over the year.

“It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life.”
P.D. JamesA Taste for Death

I was born in England, so know exactly what P.D. James is talking about. But I think it probably applies to all of us. We have an image of things in our mind, which may in fact just be a quintessential moment that has existed, but doesn’t happen too often. And so our faulty memory becomes the truth with which we live.

It’s hard to remember everything that’s happened over the span of a year, good and bad. But if we don’t get it quite right, what’s wrong with having memories that might be a little rosy? Maybe that’s just me. After all, I am a fiction writer.

Cover of "A Taste for Death (TV Tie-in)",A.K. Andrew.akandew.com

Cover of A Taste for Death (TV Tie-in)

Thanks to all my readers for your support and comments throughout the year, and I look forward to seeing you in 2015.

Happy Holidays!

Which writer or celebrity do you most remember who died in 2014?

Come join the discussion, and please share this post on your favorite social media. 

Many Thanks!

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  1. Happy Holidays my friend! I do agree with you regarding memories. So what if that lovely memory is not necessarily the way it actually took place?
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  2. Lovely tribute! In honor of her life and writing, my book group has selected Cover Her Face for this month. It’s fascinating to see how she began the Dalgliesh series.
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  3. Yes, she was a great writer. Have a lovely Christmas and New Years! Look forward to “seeing” you again next year! Jan
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  4. Hi AK. Happy Holidays! I am a fan of P.D. James and have read almost all of her books. Your post was a nice tribute to the memory of this great author.

  5. Happy holidays and enjoy your time away from cyberland! Memory is such a tricky thing. If all of our memories are prone to being faulty, whose to say which recollection is the best or most correct? I haven’t even heard of P.D. James. One more author I should read. Which book would you most recommend of hers to read first? There’s quite a list on Amazon.
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    • Happy Holidays to you too Jeri, and Im sure I will enjoy, and hopefully be renewed by the break. As to memory, there is, in most circumstances, little “proof” whose recollection is the truer one. Throw in real life POV and you’ve truly got different scenarios. As to P.D.James, she really did lead the way for crime writing in England for such authors as Minette Walters on down to Val McDermid. As to her best work, I’m not really the expert, but Goodreads did a best of in 2009 -https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/3589.Best_by_P_D_James. Hope that helps.
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  6. I love that quote as well. Having lived in the UK for 5 years I remember it with way more blue skies and sunshine than ever existed in my writing. I took no photographs at that time so memory is my most immediate reference. I remember in sunshine. Things could be worse. Have a great Christmas.
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  7. I hope you have the happiest of all holidays…enjoy your time away from cyberspace:) I love tainted memories, just like you. Tainted in a rosy way, that is. To my way of thinking, the PD James quote encompasses it all…and she was grand! I’m grateful for the many gifts she has left us.
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  8. Where would British writers be with their legendary bureaucracies to to inject some obsessiveness, pettiness, coldness and overall blindness into their stories. Don’t often read crime novels but P.D. James sounds pretty interesting.
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  9. AK, it’s been so long since I read P.D. James I can’t remember which book I read.

    Like you I love reading novels that take place in London because I know exactly where they are, what it looks like and so forth.

    Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!!
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  10. Hi AK. Thanks for the ‘rosy memories’ shared this past year – truly, I enjoyed meeting you through BHB very much. I also enjoy P.D James and have a number of her books. Like you, I’m taking a break and my next afternoon lazing, I’ll be toasting you as I have a sip of wine. Have a wonderful holiday.
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  11. A. K., I love how you honour deceased literary folk. I loved your tribute to Maya Angelou, and I like your tribute to P.D. James, too.

    I hope that that someone, someday, will do the same for us! 😉

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. 🙂
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  12. What a wonderful post to honor the memory of a great writer. Thank you for sharing and have happy holidays.

  13. Hello A.K

    I love the tribute you have paid to P.D. James.
    Sobho Gianchandani (1920–2014) was a Pakistani Sindhi social scientist, and revolutionary writer who died on 8 December 2014 at the age of 94.

    Apart from this, 2 days back Taliban terrorist attacked a school in Pakistan killing 141 students.This was darkest day in history of Pakistan. Students of the age 5-16 years were killed by firing indiscriminately. I think whole Pakistani nation will not forget this barbaric attack rest of our lives from 2014.
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  14. If I remember correctly, the first time we saw Helen Mirren was a DCI in one of P.D. James TV adaptions. She will be sadly missed, RIP P. D. James <3

  15. What a lovely post A.K. Ah memories. I reserve my right as a baby boomer woman to change my mind, to not change my bra every day and to change a memory to more of my liking!

    Merry Christmas A.K.!
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  16. Happy holidays and all that.

    Isn’t nostalgia fun. It seems the rose colored glasses I see in my past at times outweigh the dreariness of the memories I blow all out of proportion the other way as well.
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  17. Happy holidays! I hope your Christmas is a wonderful one! It is great to learn more about P.D. James 🙂
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  18. I read a lot of mysteries. They’re my escape — some people meditate. I read mysteries. I haven’t read P.D. James in a while but I always enjoyed Adam Dalgliesh. There is something about the rhythm of a British writer’s novels that is so distinctive from those written by Americans. Maybe it’s the dryness of the characters and by that I don’t mean they are aren’t interesting. But you always feel this is a certain reserve in the protagonists.

    • I think you’re absolutely right Jeannette – the modern day stiff upper lip I suppose. But even more modern protagonists e.g. in Ian Rankin novels, they all have a bit of an edge. His are a little different as he’s Scottish, but they are worlds away from for example an American gumshoe. I think the genre is generally more populated too, especially given the size of the country relative to the US. But yes they are the perfect escape, and relaxation. Happy Holidays Jeanette, and thanks for your comment.
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  19. I am usually not a big fan of mysteries, but you are convincing me to try again. After all, I do like good writers, so I will add P.D. James to my to read list soon.
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  20. Hi Kathy: I’m generally not a reader of crime writing, although I do love the old crime shows such as Columbo, Murder She Wrote, and Matlock! As well as some of the newer crime shows such as CSI Miami. I guess being a visual person, I enjoy my murder mysteries on the screen vs the page. Thx for sharing the tribute to PD James. All the best to you in 2015!
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