P D James, the highly acclaimed “grand dame of mystery”, may be seen as the literary bridge between the golden age of the whodunnit and the modern day detective novel. It is certainly true to say that her detective creation, Adam Dalgleish, has outlasted the majority of any rivals with a 50-year career. Perhaps only Agatha Christie can claim to have a pedigree to beat that.
James’ work then can be seen as pivotal in the genre as a whole, lending it additional weight in the eyes of collectors and critics. Anyone wanting to own an original, 1962 edition of her first novel, Cover Her Face, may have to spend around $6,000 to $10,000. Later Dalgleish books are naturally available for less with Unnatural Causes (1967) or A Mind to Murder (1963) pushing into the $3,000 to $5,000 bracket. Her final book of the series, The Private Patient, from 2008 can be obtained for just a few hundred dollars or less.
Departing from the Dalgleish books altogether would allow a collector to obtain one of the Cordelia Gray novels such as, An Unsuitable Job for a Woman, for between $150 and $500. One of her few forays into non-fiction The Maul and the Pear Tree, which looks at the infamous Ratcliffe Highway murders, can be found for $50 to $200. This is the same price range as her final ever work, Death Comes to Pemberley.
James was a sad loss to the literary world in late 2014, and as such her work may take on additional importance and interest in the next few years. Particularly as future film and TV adaptations are likely to raise her profile even more amongst the wider public. Her books then might be of increasing interest to collectors – although for some it may already be too late to invest and take full advantage.
James, P. D. Cover Her Face. Charles Scribners, New York (1962). First U.S. edition; Scribners A and date 6-66 (v) on copyright page and June '66 on front flap base
James, P. D. Cover Her Face. Faber and Faber, London (1962). First UK Edition;
James, P. D. A Mind To Murder. Charles Scribner's, New York (1963). First American Edition; $3.95 price and 'Feb. 67' date on DJ flap
James, P. D. A Mind to Murder. Faber and Faber, London (1963). First UK Edition;
James, P. D. Cover Her Face. Charles Scribner's, New York (1966). First U.S. edition, hardcover, with A - 6.66 [v] on copyright page; Original price of $3.95 dust jacket.
James, P. D. A Mind to Murder. Scribners, New York (1967). First American Edition; First printing with Scribner's A on copyright page; First state jacket show $3.95 price with Feb 67 on front jacket flap bottom
James, P. D. Unnatural Causes. Charles Scribners', New York (1967). First American Edition;
James, P. D. Unnatural Causes. Faber and Faber, London (1967). First UK Edition;
James, P. D. Shroud For A Nightingale. Faber and Faber, London (1971). First UK Edition.;
James, P. D. An Unsuitable Job for a Woman. Faber and Faber, London (1972). First UK Edition; dj priced '£1.90 net' on the front flap
James, P. D. The Black Tower. Faber and Faber, London (1975). First UK Edition;
James, P. D. Death of an Expert Witness. Faber and Faber, London (1977). 50 copies signed by the author on July 25th 1983