P. D. James Long Fiction Analysis
P. D. James’s work is solidly in the tradition of the realistic novel. Her novels are intricately plotted, as successful novels of detection must be. Through her use of extremely well-delineated characters and a wealth of minute and accurate details, however, James never allows her plots to distort the other aspects of her novels. As a result of her employment, James had extensive contact with physicians, nurses, civil servants, police officials, and magistrates. She uses this experience to devise settings in the active world where men and women busily pursue their vocations. She eschews the country-weekend murders of her predecessors, with their leisure-class suspects who have little more to do than chat with the amateur detective and look guilty.
A murder requires a motive, and it is James’s treatment of motivation that sets her work apart from most mystery fiction. Her suspects are frequently the emotionally maimed who, nevertheless, manage to function with apparent normality. Beneath their veneer, dark secrets fester, producing the phobias and compulsions they take such pains to disguise. James’s novels seem to suggest that danger is never far away in the most mundane setting, especially the workplace. She avoids all gothic devices, choosing instead to create a growing sense of menace just below the surface of everyday life. James’s murderers rarely kill for gain; they kill to avoid exposure of some sort.
Among James’s novels,...
(The entire section is 4632 words.)
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