1968 and then as principal administrative assistant for the British Department of Home Affairs in the Police Department and, later, the Criminal Department, both in London, from 1968 to 1979. James began writing relatively late in life, publishing her first work, Cover Her Face, in 1962. This novel featured Inspector Adam Dalgliesh, her most popular and well-known character, who went on to solve a number of cases in the books A Mind to Murder (1963), Unnatural Causes (1967), Shroud for a Nightingale (1971), The Black Tower (1975), Death of an Expert Witness (1977), and Devices and Desires (1989). The popularity of James and her fictional detective were increased by the adaptation of several of her novels into popular television serials in 1985 and 1986. James’s other famous creation is the private detective Cordelia Gray, who is featured in the novels An Unsuitable Job for a Woman (1972) and The Skull Beneath the Skin (1982). James’s book The Children of Men (1992) marked a departure from the detective fiction genre to a futuristic novel set in a world devoid of children and was less well received than her earlier works. She returned to detective fiction with Original Sin (1994), another mystery for Inspector Adam Dalgliesh.
In recognition of her work for the Arts Council of Great Britain, the British Society of Authors, and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), of which she was a governor, James was given the British honor of Life Peer of the United Kingdom, making her Baroness James of Holland Park. James earned a doctor of literature degree from the University of Buckingham in 1992 and another from the University of London in 1993.
This is not a book of fast action, nor one which compels us to rapidly turn its pages. Instead, it is a book for savoring, as we study the characters in the laboratory community, as we learn authentic (albeit somewhat dated) details about the work of forensic scientists, and as we discover how little evil can be necessary to create a killer. P.D. James was herself was forced to leave school in her mid-teens to work as a Home Office civil servant, so this is of all her books the most authentic milieu. The descriptions of the settings are filled with ambiance; rooms are richly described, revealing the personality of the persons inhabiting them. The plot is flawless, and the dialogue is delectably theatrical. The story is quite plausible, realistic, and serious not to say depressing; the reader may escape from her own life while inside this book, but never from the drama of life itself.
am afraid that I cannot recommend the book to PD James fans, or to Adam Dalgliesh devotees. This is not one of PD James’s better novels