Today’s Literary Birthday: P.D. James

The Paris Review

PD James author
The legendary mystery writer P. D. James, often dubbed the Queen of Crime, was born on this day a hundred years ago. Below, read her 1982 essay “Murder Most Foul,” in which she explains her attraction to detective stories, considers what makes a successful whodunit, and highlights her favorite practitioners of the genre—including her predecessor Agatha Christie, “a lady I think of less as a novelist than as a literary conjurer whose sleight of hand as she shuffles her cardboard characters can outwit the keenest eye.”

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