P. D. James was born in Oxford in 1920 and educated at Cambridge High School for Girls. From 1949 to 1968 she worked in the National Health Service and subsequently in the Home Office, first in the Police Department and later in the Criminal Policy Department. All that experience has been used in her novels. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Royal Society of Arts and has served as a Governor of the BBC, a member of the Arts Council, where she was Chairman of the Literary Advisory Panel, on the Board of the British Council, and as a magistrate in Middlesex and London. She is an Honorary Bencher of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple. She has won awards for crime writing in Britain, America, Italy and Scandinavia, including the Mystery Writers of America Grandmaster Award and the National Arts Club Medal of Honor for Literature (US). She has received honorary degrees from seven British universities, was awarded an OBE in 1983, and was created a life peer in 1991. In 1997 she was elected President of the Society of Authors. She lives in London and Oxford and has two daughters, five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
Remember Emma Lavenham from Death in Holy Orders? Yes, Commander Adam Dalgliesh is still in love with her. But murder at the Dupayne Museum, which is threatened with closure, puts a damper on the relationship. It is especially chilling that the crime scenes are made to resemble paintings in the museum's infamous "Murder Room." With a six-city author tour. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Neither the mystery nor the detective present James's followers with anything truly new in her latest Adam Dalgliesh novel (after 2001's Death in Holy Orders), which opens, like other recent books in the series, with an extended portrayal of an aging institution whose survival is threatened by one person, who rapidly becomes the focus of resentment and hostility. Neville Dupayne, a trustee of the Dupayne Museum, a small, private institution devoted to England between the world wars, plans to veto its continuing operation. After many pages of background on the museum's employees, volunteers and others who would be affected by the trustee's unpopular decision, Neville meets his end in a manner paralleling a notorious historical murder exhibited in the museum's "Murder Room." MI5's interest in one of the people connected with the crime leads to Commander Dalgleish and his team taking on the case. While a romance develops between the commander, who's even more understated than usual, and Emma Lavenham, introduced in Death in Holy Orders, this subplot has minimal impact. A second murder raises the ante, but the whodunit aspect falls short of James's best work. Hopefully, this is an isolated lapse for an author who excels at characterization and basic human psychology. (Nov. 18) Forecast: This BOMC main selection, with its 300,000 first printing, is likely to do as well as other recent titles in this sterling series, despite its weaknesses. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
"The Murder Room is James's most suspenseful, atmospheric novel in years and has no shortage of surprise twists." -"The New York Times Book Review" "Another elegant tale of murder, mystery, human misery and the wonder of loveE. James explores the lowest of depravity . . . with the most elegant prose." --"USA Today" "Riveting . . . exquisite, absorbing. . . . The Murder Room possesses everything we desire, no, long for, from James." --"The Miami Herald" "Elegantly constructed, beautifully written . . . [The Murder Room] is cause for rejoicing. . . . [It]" "is that much-sought-after but rare combination of reading that both transports the reader to another world and engages the imagination." --"St. Louis Post-Dispatch ""Difficult--and delightful--as it is to believe, P. D. James keeps getting better. . . . The Murder Room might be the best mystery novel of 2003. . . . This is a book to savor . . . with writing so felicitous the reader doesn't want it to end." --"Indianapolis Star" "Riveting. . . . "The Murder Room "possesses everything we desire from James. . . . [Her] lovely, clear prose travels at a stately pace, never cluttered by random violence or unnecessary characters, taking us where we need to be with assurance, intelligence and grace. No word or action is wasted; everyone and everything matters." --"The Chicago Tribune""Ms. James skill is impressively displayed." --"The New York Times" "P.D. James is surely one of the best living writers of English. [The Murder Room]'s typical James-wonderful English settings, fine writing, psychological depth." --"Rocky Mountain News" "Any ranking of today's best crime writers would surely put Britain's P.D.James at or near the top. This subtly told, character-driven novel, which emphasizes people over plot, provides, as usual, a richly-rewarding reading experience." --"The San Diego Union-Tribune" "Immensely satisfying, with James introducing her large cast and its secrets with consummate skill." --"The Washington Post""Carefully crafted . . . [with] richly portrayed characters. . . . P. D. James can still spin an intricate web of psychological suspense that demands the reader's attention and involvement. . . . James tells this tale in lucid language, with a wry eye on people and their faults." --"San Antonio Express-News" "Elegant . . . smooth storytelling. . . . The culprit remains convincingly elusive until the end." --"Houston Chronicle""A perfectly cozy read for a cold, foggy night when you feel like curling up with a cup of tea." --"Entertainment Weekly" "Sophisticated literary entertainment. . . . Masterful detailing of people and place. . . . Acute psychological portraits. . . . [A] carefully crafted tale." --"The Orlando Sentinel""Literate prose, sprinkled with enough deliciously British details to satisfy even the most diehard Anglophile. . . . [James is] an enormously appealing novelist." --"The Boston Globe" "Expertly plotted and elegantly written, the novel will stand with the best of her always-fine work. And as usual with a James novel, the characters are drawn with care and sympathy." --"The Richmond Times-Dispatch" "James whips up a thought-provoking, finely crafted literary murder mystery. . . . The Murder Room" "is a riveting and well-constructed read." --"San Jose Mercury News" "Elegant language and deft, intricatecharacterizations." --"Pittsburg Tribune-Review" "James writes of the whydunit rather than the whodunit and her grasp and appreciation for the boundless perplexities of human behavior deeply enriches her books." --"Philadelphia Inquirer" "The eminence grise of British detective fiction, James delivers another ruminative puzzler, generous in character, graceful in prose." --"The Village Voice" "James' strength as a writer lies in her ability to craft characters with depth. She doesn't just supply names and ages but gives readers a sense of her characters' desires and motives (and not just murderous ones)." --"Fort Worth Star-Telegram"