Now, being of sound mind, I like a good Dalgliesh novel. P.D. James writes lucid prose, human characters and an intriguing mystery to boot; that’s not getting into her skills with suspense. However, in listening to my current audiobook, Original Sin, I have realized something chilling.

Everyone drinks coffee. Every suspect or interviewee who offers anything offers coffee; the sister of the victim feels the need for coffee. Even in the murder-plagued publishing company’s ‘tea room’ presided over by the tea lady we find coffee, coffee grounds, people kicking in weekly for coffee. This can’t be simple find-replace regionalization (my mother owns the British versions of the Harry Potter books, so I do realize it happens), because the French suspect and his Anglicized daughter, independently, bring coffee to the police in cafetières. Somehow I doubt P.D. originally wrote théière and expected us to understand!

Casting my mind back, I remember some cups of coffee being plot points in earlier P.D. James novels. But try as I might, I cannot recall seeing a single character drink a cup of tea in one of her books. Does P.D. James hate tea?

As Xander once said on this very subject, “You’re destroying a perfectly good cultural stereotype.”

Update, July 19, 2008: She’s messing with me. Now I’m listening to A Certain Justice and tea has been made, been made fresh, and offered to the bereaved in its capacity as the British panacea. She saw me post this and went back in time to 1997 and changed all the coffees to teas in this novel. Really.


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