• 50°

Farewell, PD James, it was a pleasure to read you

PD James dies at 94

PD James

PD James

PD James is gone at age 94. Lovers of literary mysteries are bereft. Her complex novels, complete with collateral damage and the lasting effects of murder, rose above and beyond the traditional cozy.

James didn’t moralize, she showed the reader all the ugly parts of death, left out gruesome details, and made her detective, Adam Dalgliesh of Scotland Yard, into a lonely, brilliant man women loved.

She did it without romance, without tidying everything up, haunting readers with a tale of horrible wrongs.

James took her time to write a book, doing research that often involved personal explorations of plot devices, including visiting a nuclear power plant.

She often said settings inspired her, and it showed. Each place was vivid, especially if it was damp, dreary, isolated. James was an expert at setting tone.

Her characters were equally well drawn and complicated, with long histories.

I devoured her novels, eagerly awaiting each new one. Her prose was clean and compelling. Any embellishment had an important part in the plot.

Some of the books were made into PBS “Mysteries,” starring Roy Marsden as Dalgliesh, a choice James was never comfortable with. Still, those productions spiked interest in her books.

She wrote a fascinating memoir, “Time to be in Earnest,” and an apocalyptic science-fiction novel, “The Children of Men.” She had a facile, curious mind and was precise in every aspect.

Sitting with a James novel is like having a conversation with an erudite friend. I will miss her.

Here are PD James’ 10 tips for writing novels:

1. You must be born to write.

2. Write what you know.

3. Find your own routine.

4. Be aware that the business is changing.

5. Read, write and don’t daydream!

6. Enjoy your own company.

7. Choose a good setting.

8. Never go anywhere without a notebook.

9. Never talk about a book before it is finished.

10. Know when to stop.




RSS superintendent talks district’s future, strategic plan survey


Complaints and fines pile up against unpermitted landfill in southwest Rowan County


Catawba baseball: Crowd comes out to say goodbye to Newman Park


History is a great teacher: Farming has helped shape Rowan County


‘A safe place for them’: Timeless Wigs and Marvelous Things celebrates fifth anniversary

China Grove

County will hear request for more tree houses, hobbit-style homes in China Grove


Livingstone College partners with Health Department to administer 500 Pfizer vaccinations


‘Elite and it shows’: Staff at Partners in Learning at Novant celebrate news of national accreditation


Biz Roundup: Food Lion earns Energy Star award for 20th consecutive year


Ester Marsh: What body type are you?


The queen says goodbye to Philip, continues her reign alone


Worldwide COVID-19 death toll tops a staggering 3 million


US, China agree to cooperate on climate crisis with urgency


Sikh community calls for gun reforms after FedEx shooting

High School

North Rowan romps into second round of football playoffs


FBI had interviewed former FedEx employee who killed eight


Gastonia man sentenced for crash into restaurant that killed his daughter, daughter-in-law


Some call for charges after video of police shooting 13-year-old in Chicago


State unemployment rate falls to 5.2% in March


NASCAR approach to virus vaccine varies greatly


Judge rejects Cherokee challenge against new casino in Kings Mountain


Jackson tops NC Senate fundraising; Walker coffers also full


Kiwanis Pancake Festival serves thousands of flapjacks for charity


Rowan remains in state’s middle, yellow tier for COVID-19 community spread