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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

P. D. James on the Classic English Detective Story

     I never read romantic novels, ever; I didn't enjoy them. And as I never liked fantasy and I never liked science fiction. I suppose that leaves for one's comfort reading the detective story. The form is often quite nostalgic; if you're reading some of the earlier ones it's a different world, it's a more ordered world, it's a safer world--despite the fact they're dealing with murder.

     You're back in this English village with the well-known characters; there's a sense of nostalgia and security about them and in the end a terrible crime is solved and peace and order is restored. And in real life it isn't, and in modern detective stories, especially mine, it isn't restored, but in most classical English detective stories it is.

     You know it's going to turn out right, that virtue is going to be rewarded and evil is going to be punished. So these detective stories do have that ability to provide for the reader some kind of solace. I don't think we choose our genre, I think that a genre chooses us.

P. D. James, "On Writing: Authors Reveal the Secrets of Their Craft,", March 25, 2011


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