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When she began writing, Ms. James chose the detective-story form because she enjoyed reading such novels and because she thought she would have a better chance of getting published if she wrote in a popular genre. She told The Paris Review in 1995 that she “thought writing a detective story would be a wonderful apprenticeship for a ‘serious’ novelist because a detective story is very easy to write badly but difficult to write well.”

I still think her novel, The Children of Men, and its resulting movie, is one of the best ever.

NY Times obit, here.