“The acknowledged ‘Queen of Crime’, P. D. James, was a past master of the short story, weaving together motifs of the Golden Age of crime-writing with deep psychological insight to create gripping, suspenseful tales. The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories contained four of these perfectly formed stories, and this companion volume contains a further six, published here together for the first time.
As the six murderous tales unfold, the dark motive of revenge is revealed at the heart of each. Bullying schoolmasters receive their comeuppance, unhappy marriages and childhoods are avenged, a murder in the small hours of Christmas Day puts an end to the vicious new lord of the manor, and, from the safety of his nursing home, an octogenarian exerts exquisite retribution.
The punishments inflicted on the guilty are fittingly severe, but here they are meted out by the unseen forces of natural justice rather than the institutions of the law. Once again, P. D. James shows her expert control of the short-story form, conjuring motives and scenarios with complete conviction, and each with a satisfying twist in the tail.”
It is my great pleasure to share my review of Sleep No More by the late Queen of crime fiction, P.D. James with you today. This wonderful collection of six murderous tales is published by Faber & Faber today! Don’t you just love that as a tagline, ‘six murderous tales’! And that’s exactly what the reader gets, the demise of some very deserving victims and the ingenious souls who plot their downfall.
I’ve always found it hard to review short story collections (easy to read, harder to review!). Do you review each story individually? Do you write a piece covering the entire work and how well the stories gel, how the book starts and whether it finishes on a high note? Well, I for one, never know the right way of doing these things so on this occasion I have chosen to write a general review of how I found this wonderful collection of crime.
I haven’t read The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories for which this new release is a companion read. I will be making sure I get hold of a copy soon though, one for the Christmas wishlist maybe? All of these six stories stand on their own merit, and they stand proud. P.D. James was a master of suspense which she proves on each and every page of this novel.
The Yo-Yo is a great opening story which has a wonderfully atmospheric feel to it. Despite being a regular reader of all things blood and gore I found myself shocked that such a young child was involved in such a dark and dangerous situation.
My favourite story was The Murder of Santa Claus which invites the reader to an old mansion for Christmas day. One of the party goers is given a gift he would not choose for himself, a bullet to the chest. This intriguing tale has all the classic threads of a whodunit mystery and it was delightful reading.
The Girl Who Loved Graveyards also scored high for me. A creepy, gothic tale which appealed to my darker side.
All stories within this volume are riveting reads which crime fiction fans will devour. Mr Millcroft’s Birthday, the very last story in the book, was the only one I was a little disappointed with (only a smidge, mind you!). It’s a subtle story with the possible hint of a dastardly murder which fell a little flat for me.
Would I recommend this book? I would. This short book would make a great gift for the crime fiction fan in your life. I find short story collections to be quite refreshing, a short sharp read you can pick and choose from as you wish. And as short story collections go, you can’t get much better than P.D. James.
Four out of five stars.
I chose to read and review an ARC of Sleep No More. The above review is my own unbiased opinion. My thanks to Sophie at Faber & Faber for sending me a copy of the book.
Sleep No More by P.D. James is published in the UK by Faber & Faber on 5th October 2017 and is available in hardcover and eBook formats (with the paperback to follow later this month) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |
P.D. (Phyllis Dorothy) James was the author of over twenty books, most of which have been filmed and broadcast on television in the United States and other countries. She spent thirty years in various departments of the British Civil Service, including the Police and Criminal Law Department of Great Britain’s Home Office. She served as a magistrate and as a governor of the BBC. In 2000 she celebrated her eightieth birthday and published her autobiography, Time to Be in Earnest. The recipient of many prizes and honors, she was created Baroness James of Holland Park in 1991. She lived in London and Oxford.
International Crime Writing Hall of Fame, 2008
Grand Master Award from Mystery Writers of America, 1999
Diamond Dagger from British Crime Writers’ Association, 1987.