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'Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks' and P.D. James on Detective Fiction

Lost Hercule Poirot mysteries, and a master's secrets

James also discusses her own novels, especially the importance of setting. In one beautiful section, she details how a visit to a "deserted shingle beach" in East Anglia inspired her Devices and Desires (1989): the "sullen and dangerous North Sea" loomed in one direction, the "great outline of Sizewell nuclear power station" in the other. "Immediately," she writes, "I knew that I had found the setting for my next novel."

Talking About Detective Fiction will have you reading the stuff as well, sending even the most ardent mystery fan to the library with a list of fresh titles. As much as those notebooks of Christie's, James's study expertly ushers readers inside the novelist's craft.

Art Taylor writes frequently on mysteries and thrillers for The Washington Post, Mystery Scene, and The Strand. His short fiction has been published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.

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