P. D. James brings a lifetime of reading and writing crime fiction to bear on this personal history of the genre, from the birth of the detective story, through Wilkie Collins and Conan Doyle, to the golden age of crime and the rise of Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, and Margery Allingham.
There is a chapter on great American crime writers such as Raymond Chandler and Dashiel Hammett, and P. D. James also discusses many of her favourite detectives, from Sherlock Holmes to Kurt Wallander.
"Anyone who is interested in 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." (Amanda Craig, Independent)
"An idiosyncratic and entertaining primer [and] an imaginative response to some of James's favourite authors." (Jake Kerridge, Daily Telegraph)
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