Talking About Detective Fiction
Baroness P.D. James is approaching ninety and showing no sign of slowing down. Her series of novels starring Detective Adam Dalgleish are some of the finest in the genre, therefore I was looking forward to her insight in Talking About Detective Fiction, (I admit it: one day I’d love to make a stab at a who-done-it myself). But despite being well-written, she didn’t drill down into craft. After a breezy five chapter tour through the historical development of the mystery, lightly summarizing the strengths and weaknesses of its most famous proponents (Conan Doyle, Sayers, Rankin etc.) she ends with a mere single chapter on craft, before dissolving into speculative chit-chat.
I think I had been expecting an academic approach, less tea-and-scones and more semiotics and psychological insight. Wait till it reaches the library, if you must….