It’s the 99th birth anniversary of PD James, one of the finest writers ever of detective fiction. Here are 10 questions about whodunits that you need to solve.

We love a good mystery

1 Starting with Sherlock Holmes. Which story is about a prosperous middle-aged man called Neville St Clair, who usually came up from the county to London every morning on “business” and then disappeared one morning?

2 If Sherlock Holmes is forever associated with the phrase “Elementary, my dear Watson” (though he never says it), with which vegetable-loving fictional detective would you associate the phrase “Shut up, Kitty”?

3 If PD James created Adam Dalgleish, which author created the owner of the Pryde detective agency, Cordelia Gray, who appears in the stories An Unsuitable Job for a Woman and The Skull Beneath the Skin ?

4 Which detective operates from the town of Ystad, southeast of Malmo city in Sweden, and has an on-and-off relationship with Baiba Liepa from Latvia?

5 Which classic hard-boiled private eye was named after the author’s house in Dulwich College boarding school in England. The house, in turn, was named after an Elizabethan writer suspected of being a spy, who supposedly died in a pub brawl.

6 Which series of novels, written by Edith Pargeter, is about a Welsh Benedictine monk at the Abbey of St Peter and St Paul in the English town of Shropshire in the 11th and 12th century AD?

7 Which fictional detective starred in exactly 25 novels, one short of completing a series, before her author passed away in 2017?

8 Which fictional detective was a former armyman who works with the Lothian and Borders Police, and often operates from the St Leonard’s police station in Edinburgh with his colleague Siobhan Clarke?

9 Which author writes about a forensic detective who was the head of the NYPD’s Central Investigation and Resource Division before being involved in an accident at a crime scene where an oak beam fell on him, crushing his C4 vertebrae and leaving him only able to move from his shoulders up and his left ring finger. In his first appearance, he was actively considering suicide when an old colleague arrives with a case.

10 Why is the 1893 case The Chocolate Box unique in the Hercule Poirot canon of stories?


1 The Man With the Twisted Lip

2 Karamchand, played by Pankaj Kapur in the Doordarshan serial of the same name in the ’80s. He now seems actively misogynistic.

3 PD James. In fact, Gray meets Dalgliesh in An Unsuitable Job for a Woman

4 Kurt Wallander, created by Henning Mankell and played by Kenneth Branagh in the television adaptation

5 Raymond Chandler’s creation Philip Marlowe, inspired by playwright Christopher Marlowe

6 The Brother Cadfael Series. Edith Pargeter is the real name of Ellis Peter

7 Kinsey Millhone, created by Sue Grafton, who was known for her ‘alphabet mysteries’. She died before she could write ‘Z’

8 Inspector Rebus, in the stories of Ian Rankin

9 Lincoln Rhyme, in Jeffrey Deaver’s novels

10 It is the only case that Poirot admits he failed to solve, from his days at the Sûreté, the French police department of criminal investigation


Joy Bhattacharjya is a quizmaster; Twitter: @joybhattacharj