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.
“There is a suggestion that James, in her short fiction, indulged a sense of mischief not quite possible when serving the demands of the novel…a worthy addition to…[James’s] work.” - Sarah Perry, The Guardian
“In these six crime short stories, P. D. James rings all the changes… The few improbabilities are effectively disguised by the sublime quality of James’s writing. She never puts a word wrong…she is the unrivalled portrayer of the sort of bad character who keeps up a convincing performance until the mask is torn off to reveal evil intent. With endings sometimes shocking and never less than surprising, she leaves her readers gasping.” - Barry Turner, Daily Mail
“The selections in this solid second posthumous collection from MWA Grand Master James (after 2016’s The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories) explore variations of the theme of looking back on past violent incidents... James (1920–2014) was just as gifted an author of short stories as she was a novelist.” - Publishers Weekly
“Half a dozen more reprinted stories, originally published between 1973 and 2005, from the late doyenne of the formal English mystery in all its majesty… fans hungry for scraps from James’ table will revel in the stories themselves… Ceremonious, nasty, and very welcome indeed.” - Kirkus Reviews
“As the nights draw in, you’re unlikely to encounter a book more ingeniously pleasing than the late, great P.D. James’s Sleep No More, six flawless new stories…Always, a shrewd closing twist lies in wait.” - Hephzibah Anderson, The Observer
“These tales are perfectly sized and balanced, with the sharp insight and graceful prose that helped earn the writer her fame. - Adam Woog, Seattle Times
“SLEEP NO MORE offers six previously uncollected, quite wonderful ‘murderous tales’ that will delight her longtime fans and provide for others a fine introduction to her work… The stories collected here are variously surprising, sardonic and darkly humorous, and are always intelligent and beatifully written. As much as any crime writer I know, James transcends genre and should be viewed simply as a writer of exceptional literary skill.” - Patrick Anderson, The Washington Post