P.D. James took the classic British detective story into tough modern terrain, complete with troubled relationships and brutal violence, and never accepted that crime writing was second-class literature.
James, who has died at 94, was best known as the creator of sensitive Scotland Yard sleuth Adam Dalgliesh. But her wickedly acute imagination ranged widely, inserting a murder into the mannered world of Jane Austen in “Death Comes to Pemberley” and creating a bleak dystopian future in “The Children of Men.”
James told the Associated Press in 2006 that she was drawn to mystery novels because they “tell us more … about the social mores about the time in which they were written than the more prestigious literature.”
Publisher Faber and Faber said James died peacefully on Thursday at her home in Oxford, southern England.
Faber, James’ publisher for more than 50 years, said in a statement that she had been “so very remarkable in every aspect of her life, an inspiration and great friend to us all.”
James’ books sold millions of copies around the world, and most were just as popular when adapted for television.
This story is compiled with information from the Associated Press.