Talking About Detective Fiction

Talking About Detective Fiction - P.D. James It's no more than you'd expect that such an intelligent woman and such a good writer would come up with a clear and perceptive survey of her genre, leavened with enough personal observations to avoid disappointment on that score. I particularly liked her observations on Dorothy L. Sayers, who is obviously a favourite.

There is a freshness here that reminds us that James does not come from a lit-crit background, rather a scientific one that allows her to marshal her thoughts very logically and without lit-crit jargon. And there's an endearing tone of slight surprise, or at least new-found truth, when she makes an observation like this (one which everyone who's ever attempted to write fiction, however amateurishly, can surely identify):

... however well I think I know my characters, they reveal themselves more clearly during the writing of the book, so that at the end, however carefully and intricately the work is plotted, I never get exactly the novel I planned.