James's novels are of guilt and retribution. It is not only her murderers who sin: the victims tend, through their own transgressions to invite their fate. Among the most interesting novels is A Taste of Death, featuring a family seething with hatred. The crime is precipitated by a Tory minister who has undergone a Damascene conversion and developed the Stigmata. The hero of James's first novel, Cover her Face, and most others is Adam Dalgleish, a policeman and poet, who is capable of love but not commitment. Her alternative investigator, Cordelia Gray - first seen in An Unsuitable Woman - is an archetypal lost child in search of certainty and a father more satisfactory than the selfish communist who cut short her education.
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