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As the ackwledged 'Queen of Crime', P. D. James was frequently commissioned by newspapers and magazines to write a special short story for Christmas. Four of the best of these have been drawn from the archives and published here. P. D. James' prose illuminates each of these perfectly formed stories, making them ideal reading for the darkest days of the year. While she delights in the secrets that lurk beneath the surface at family gatherings, her Christmas stories also provide tantalizing puzzles to keep the reader guessing. P. D. James embraces the challenge of the short-story form, and ingeniously weaves the strands of plot, setting, characterisation and surprise to create a satisfying whole within only a few thousand words. From the title story about a strained country-house party on Christmas Eve, to ather about an illicit affair that ends in murder, and two cases for James' poet-detective Adam Dalgliesh, each treats the reader to James' masterfully atmospheric storytelling, always with the lure of a mystery to be solved.
P. D. James (1920-2014) was born in Oxford and educated at Cambridge High School for Girls. From 1949 to 1968 she worked in the National Health Service and subsequently in the Home Office. She was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Royal Society of Arts and served as a Governor of the BBC, a member of the Arts Council, where she was Chairman of the Literary Advisory Panel, on the Board of the British Council and as a magistrate in Middlesex and London. She won awards for crime writing in Britain, America, Italy and Scandinavia, including the Mystery Writers of America Grandmaster Award and The National Arts Club Medal of Honor for Literature (US). She received honorary degrees from seven British universities, was awarded an OBE in 1983 and was created a life peer in 1991. In 1997 she was elected President of the Society of Authors, stepping down from the post in August 2013.