Gyles Brandreth's Diary: How to kill your wife and get away with it
The Oldie Magazine|September 2020
Gyles Brandreth's Diary: How to kill your wife and get away with it
P D James and John Mortimer gave me tips for the perfect murder
Gyles Brandreth

Apparently, during the pandemic, a lot of people – married couples, especially, cooped up together for months on end – have had murder on their minds. I am here to help.

This is the centenary of P D James, one of my favourite crime writers (and one of my favourite people) and the mistress of the sophisticated murder mystery.

Thinking about her birthday and about how I might be able to advise any murderously inclined readers, I’ve been remembering the last time Phyllis James and I had tea together. It wasn’t that long ago: she died in 2014, aged 94. I loved her. She was small and twinkly, courteous, kindly, and sharp as cyanide.

‘Could I commit the perfect murder?’ she mused while pouring the Earl Grey into my cup. ‘Well, yes, my dear, I think that, very possibly, I could.’

‘What is the first rule of murder?’ I asked her.

‘Keep it simple,’ she said at once. ‘And the second rule is: don’t tell a soul. If you can keep a secret, you can get away with murder.’

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September 2020