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Shelf life: Looking at secular books

I have been fascinated by crime fiction for a long time, but only from a distance, wondering why it was so popular, and yet often so sneered at. Why does crime drama so dominate our TV screens, whether a pretty pathologist or a terse detective is in view? Writing this column has forced me to attempt to answer some of those questions. Where better to start than with P.D. James, ‘The greatest contemporary writer of classic crime’, according to The Sunday Times?

Secular Shelf Life Sarah Allen

By P.D. James
Faber & Faber. 336 pages. £7.79
ISBN 0 571 22918 2