Mark Oppenheimer was surprised to find how the scandal impacted those involved, almost 60 years later.
Mystery writer P.D. James, who brought realistic modern characters to the classical British detective story, has died, her publisher said. She was 94.
Faber and Faber said publisher said James died Thursday at her home in Oxford, southern England.
James’ books, many featuring sensitive sleuth Adam Dalgliesh, sold millions around the world, and most were just as popular when adapted for television.
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. It is a privilege to publish her extraordinary books. Working with her was always the best of times, full of joy. We will miss her hugely.”
Because of the quality and careful structure of her writing — and her elegant, intellectual detective Dalgliesh — she was at first seen as a natural successor to writers like Dorothy L. Sayers, creator of Lord Peter Wimsey in the between-the-wars “Golden Age” of the mystery novel.
But James’ books were strong on character, avoided stereotype and touched on distinctly modern problems including drugs, child abuse and nuclear contamination.
“She has pushed, as a modernist must, against the boundaries of the classical detective story,” critic Julian Symons once wrote.
“The greatest mystery of all is the human heart,” James said in a 1997 interview, “and that is the mystery with which all good novelists, I think, are concerned. I’m always interested in what makes people the sort of people they are.”