If you have good characters, you can afford to write whatever you want, says another apocryphal maxim of the trade. And PD James not only wonderfully illustrates that aphorism, but he makes it even more difficult: his main character, the protagonist of a whole series of detective novels, the hero who right wrongs is, in reality, a non-detective, a guy gray, physically attractive – in a refined way, mind you – but without special charm or aura of any other kind; He has no known vices -apart from his habit of writing poetry, which is also regularly published- nor undesirable customs or companies that would make him less worthy in the eyes of his subordinates, colleagues or other equals in society; to make matters worse, even having lost his wife and his newborn son in a tragic way.
He has not ostensibly sunk into any depression that would make him unable to carry out his professional work, nor has he given up his will to live. In short, he is a fairly normal type, who does not stand out in the eyes of the reader for anything in particular (we are provided with very few samples of his gifts as a poet, and even these are dismissed by the author himself as minor opuscules, so this facet, which could be considered different and embellishing, is eliminated for practical purposes by James, who probably did not want to complicate himself by having to create poems in addition to a whole police plot of absolutely flawless lace).

But it is that with Adam Dalgliesh, which is the name of PD James’s fetish detective, something else is still going on, something that already places him completely outside of all the foreseen and already cultivated possibilities in terms of fictional hounds: the author he cares very little about how he solves his cases, and almost every time, if not every time, in every novel in which Dalgliesh is the protagonist, Dalgliesh comes to know the truth out of the blue, by sudden intuition or illumination, without ever knowing it. the reader can follow the thread that has led him to it.

Yes, James meticulously details all the interrogations he carries out, all his movements, the orders he gives to his second in command on duty, his inspections of the crime scene and surrounding places, even the attacks he suffers, his recoveries from them , his private opinions about the suspects…but suddenly all that is over and the next thing we know, Adam Dalgliesh now knows who the killer is, as well as his motive and modus operandi. He knows everything because that’s the way PD James wants it. And also because everything we have just read has been nothing more than a huge and very well concocted excuse for the author to tell us the story that she really burned to tell: the story of the dead man and those who lived or worked with him, about how their relationships were, about how each one of them was, about what had happened before the crime, about what each character felt and thought, about the many lies and some other truth that each of them had surrounded themselves with. to continue living.

Of its errors, of its serious and venial imperfections, of their nobility and their egoisms. In the end, the murderer turns out to be one in particular; but, by stealing from us the rational discourse by which Dalgliesh arrives at the unequivocal conclusion that he is the culprit and not someone else, what PD James wants to tell us is that, in reality, it does not matter that it was this one, because it could have been any other; There were plenty of reasons for all the suspects, and none of them was too good not to get their hands dirty with the blood of his neighbor, have we not seen it?

PS James had his ups and downs; Naturally, not all of his novels are of equal quality. But all of them participate in the absolute distrust of the human race and the cynicism of those who have taken the measure of the average human being well. No, a reading of his novels is not exactly the April Fair; but it is fair to say that it is, paradoxically, refreshing reading, in that he calls bread bread and wine wine, and while Dalgliesh is a bit grey, it is also true that he is a perfect model of stoicism, of good mental health and emotional maturity in all senses, something that, in these times, is completely therapeutic.