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P.D. James Books In Order

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Publication Order of Adam Dalgliesh Books

Cover Her Face (1962)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Mind to Murder (1963)Description / Buy at Amazon
Unnatural Causes (1967)Description / Buy at Amazon
Shroud for a Nightingale (1971)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Black Tower (1975)Description / Buy at Amazon
Death of an Expert Witness (1977)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Taste for Death (1986)Description / Buy at Amazon
Devices and Desires (1989)Description / Buy at Amazon
Original Sin (1994)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Certain Justice (1997)Description / Buy at Amazon
Death in Holy Orders (2001)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Murder Room (2003)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Lighthouse (2005)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Private Patient (2008)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Cordelia Gray Books

An Unsuitable Job for a Woman (1972)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Skull Beneath the Skin (1982)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Innocent Blood / Innocent House (1980)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Children of Men (1992)Description / Buy at Amazon
Death Comes to Pemberley (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Short Stories/Novellas

The Part-Time Job (2005)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Short Story Collections

The Mistletoe Murder (2016)Description / Buy at Amazon
Sleep No More (2017)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

The Maul and The Pear Tree (With: T.A. Critchley) (1971)Description / Buy at Amazon
Time To Be In Earnest (1999)Description / Buy at Amazon
Talking About Detective Fiction (2009)Description / Buy at Amazon
P.D. James in Her Own Words (2017)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Faber Stories Books

A Good Man Is Hard To Find (By: Flannery O'Connor) (1955)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Inner Room (By: Robert Aickman) (1968)Description / Buy at Amazon
Daughters of Passion (By: Julia O'Faolain) (1982)Description / Buy at Amazon
Giacomo Joyce (By: Richard Ellmann) (1983)Description / Buy at Amazon
Homeland (By: Barbara Kingsolver) (1989)Description / Buy at Amazon
Shanti (By: Vikram Chandra) (1997)Description / Buy at Amazon
Sonny Liston Was a Friend of Mine (By: Thom Jones) (1998)Description / Buy at Amazon
An Elegy for Easterly (By: Petina Gappah) (2009)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Shielding of Mrs Forbes (By: Alan Bennett) (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Cheater's Guide to Love (By: Junot Díaz) (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon
Mrs Fox (By: Sarah Hall) (2014)Description / Buy at Amazon
Mostly Hero (By: Anna Burns) (2014)Description / Buy at Amazon
Mr Salary (By: Sally Rooney) (2016)Description / Buy at Amazon
Come Rain or Come Shine (By: Kazuo Ishiguro) (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Victim (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
Dante and the Lobster (By: Samuel Beckett) (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
Paradise (By: Edna O'Brien) (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
Cosmopolitan (By: Akhil Sharma) (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Lydia Steptoe Stories (By: Djuna Barnes) (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
Mary Ventura and The Ninth Kingdom (By: Sylvia Plath) (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
Terrific Mother (By: Lorrie Moore) (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Country Funeral (By: John McGahern) (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Forester's Daughter (By: Claire Keegan) (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
Three Types of Solitude (By: Brian W. Aldiss) (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
A River in Egypt (By: David Means) (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
Fairy Tales (By: Marianne Moore) (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
Ghostly Stories (By: Celia Fremlin) (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
Intruders (By: Adrian Tomine) (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

Verdict of Thirteen(1979)Description / Buy at Amazon
Murder in the Dark(1983)Description / Buy at Amazon
English Country House Murders(1988)Description / Buy at Amazon
Great Law and Order Stories(1990)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Man Who...(1992)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Penguin Book of Modern Fantasy by Women(1995)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Detection Collection(2005)Description / Buy at Amazon

When it comes to professional writers born and raised in the UK, Phyllis Dorothy James, better known as P.D. James, was one of the names you could never oversight. Born back in 1920, Phyllis had written and published over 20 novels. Some of her works are single stories while others are book series. She was a mother of two daughters and lived in London and Oxford. Phyllis was raised by her parents in Oxford and attended Cambridge high school for girls. She is known for many of her creations, although the most popular one involves Adam Dalgliesh (character). This book series saw its final episode published in 2011. Apart from writing, she was also involved in many other activities and has worked in various offices during her time. She has had experiences as a mother, book author, medic, civil servant among other positions. Phyllis also had several recognition awards because of her writing.

She sadly passed in November 2014.

Books and characters

P.D. James began her writing career in the mid 50s and her first book Cover Her Face was published in 1962. It featured one of her most popular characters Adam Dalgliesh who is both a police investigator and a poet. As a writer from the ‘old’ era, her books are based on a milieu of the United Kingdom’s bureaucracies. Most of the novels feature closed societal systems such as Criminal Justice and National Health Service. Her husband passed away two years after the first book was published. Phyllis writings revolve around detective and police investigation fiction stories. She also has non-fictional books and omnibus versions. After the first release, she went on to publish A Mind to Murder in 1962, Unnatural Causes (1967), Shroud for a Nightingale (1971) and so on. The last novel Death Comes to Pemberley was released in 2011.

She gained popularity from her first creation that features Adam Dalgliesh, who is also the protagonist character in fourteen of her novels. The reader is first introduced to Dalgliesh as a chief inspector and detective in Cover Her Face. He continues to rank up the command along the novels and eventually assumes the rank of commander in a metropolitan police service. He is considered quite cerebral and has a passion of writing poems. Most of his friends remind him of this fact which leads him to publishing his work. He owns a Cooper Bristol at the beginning of the story and later a Jaguar. Dalgliesh earns a decent salary and stays in a flat. He is portrayed as tall, dark and handsome. The 14 P.D James novels about this character depict incredible development. Dalgliesh is transformed from a lower rank level inspector to an authoritative commander. Readers are also introduced to his personal lifestyle and relationships. He becomes a widower 13 years before the next book (A Mind to Murder) is released. His aunt, Jane Dalgliesh, who is the only family relation he held with great esteem also dies and leaves him in control of a decent inheritance.

The debut novel begins with a plot describing how Dalgliesh investigates the murder of a young maid. The build begins with a party event for the fete celebrations. Sally Jupp is a young maid who works for Mrs. Maxie. Her employer has a son Stephen Maxie and daughter Dorothy Maxie. On the second day of fete, Sally shows up in the same dress and accessories that Dorothy has on and later announces that Stephen proposed to marry her. There is an exchange of insulting words between her and Mrs Maxie before the party breaks. She is found in the morning dead inside her bedroom and the detective game begins. It is later discovered that she died of strangulation. There are many other plots, thrillers, dramas and controversies built into the story. All Phyllis novels depict optimum creativity and character development. A Mind to Murder basically involves the investigation of an intellectual predatory killer. Dalgliesh receives a night call that forces him to quickly abandon his writing to investigate killings in a psychiatric clinic. He finds the body of a dead clinic staff at the basement floor with a chisel driven right into her heart. This erupt a series of investigative procedures and detective activities. Along the lines in P.D James novels, it is easy to pick out exceptional creativity and imagination. She spent some time working in the criminal justice and health service offices which gives her a more personalized approach. It makes it easier for readers to follow what is going on. The last book about Adam Dalgliesh where he is a commander is The Private Patient (2008). An investigative journalist is savagely killed in a plastic surgery clinic where she went to remove her facial scar. The surgeon and entire clinic are subjected to the thorough investigative procedures typical of Dalgliesh.

Production and awards

Due to the level of creativity and use of descriptive elaborations, P.D James books are very clear, on purpose and easy to script. Many of her works (over a dozen) have been made into television and film adaptations. Death of an Expert Witness was made into a movie in 1983. Other novels that have been adapted to TV and/or film include Cover Her Face, Mind to Murder, A Certain Justice, Devices and Desires and Original Sin among many more. She has also received various honours and awards for her contributions in detective writing. Some of the select honours include: Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1983, Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and President of the Society of Authors in 1997. The awards section comprises CWA (crime writers’ association) Macallan Silver Dagger for fiction (1971, 1975 and 1986) and Diamond Dagger in1987. Others are Grandmasters Awards (Mystery writers of America 1999) and Best translated crime award (Japan 1992). She has many more awards and honours received in various countries around the world.


Crime writing is one of the most entertaining pieces of literature, especially if it is written by someone with a first hand knowledge of what detective work involves. P.D James is one of the excellent crime writers and her novels are there to prove it. Although she is now in her retirement, many readers will still anticipate to see an inspired protégée who can match her level of professionalism and entertainment in crime writing.

Book Series In Order » Authors » P.D. James

4 Responses to “P.D. James”

  1. Beverly H.: 1 year ago

    Her legacy lives on as readers new to Inspector Dalgliesh love her books. That’s me…. and I love these books.

  2. jackie c: 2 years ago

    Having read all the Dalgliesh & Gray, I just finished Time to be in Earnest & Talking About Detective Fiction. Her non-fiction is just as fascinating as her mysteries, my favorites of which are Devices and Desires, The Lighthouse, and the poignant An Unsuitable Job for a Woman.

  3. Tarre B Smith: 2 years ago

    saw the note at the top of the page, like Jack Reacher? Try Peter Ash by Nick Petrie – ordered the first one and we’ll see, thank you so much!

    • Graeme: 2 years ago

      Hopefully you enjoy 🙂 Out of all the recommendations I’ve given over the years, the “If you like Reacher, try Peter Ash” recommendation is the one that has received the most positive feedback.


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