Another week, another fantastic collection of short stories! Last week I reviewed Mark Haddon’s amazing collection The Pier Falls, this week I read some P.D. James for the first time. I saw this beautiful book on the shelves in my local book shop again last week but this time I couldn’t resist. I justified the purchase by avoiding the Cheltenham horse racing festival!
I know you should never judge a book by its cover, but the artwork on the front cover of this hardback is amazing. If you do anything on the internet today, make sure you head over to Angela Harding’s website to see her vast collection of beautiful prints first. They are incredibly detailed. I hope to save up and buy one soon.
As for the collection of short stories, they did not disappoint either. As I mentioned above, I had never read any of P.D. James work before despite her reputation as the ‘Queen of Crime‘ and ‘the master of the short story.’ After reading these six examples I can only agree that she lives up to these spectacular titles.
I flew through this book in just a couple of days and enjoyed each one of the stories immensely. They were very easy to read yet still retained that vital element of mystery needed to keep the reader engaged. I loved the old Wartime England vibe that allowed for such classic settings as the boarding school and old Georgian manors. Amongst the schoolmasters and chambermaids, there was plenty of skulduggery to be found.
Each story was very short to read at only about twenty to thirty pages. This made this book ideal for curling up with a nice cup of tea to pass a few minutes. The author’s writing masterfully draws you in to another world and ties up all the loose ends in each story. I can’t recommend this book highly enough and I look forward to passing it on.
Here were my favourite stories in order. Let me know if you agree!
1. The Yo-Yo: The first story and my favourite. A boarding school student heads off for the Christmas holidays with only the driver and a school teacher for company.
2. The Girl Who Loved Graveyards: A child with an unnatural obsession with graveyards tries to trace her family history.
3. The Victim: A jilted lover recounts how he has a part to play in a member of the royal family’s past.
4. The Murder of Santa Claus: This classic Cluedo-style whodunnit has a Christmas setting and any amount of suspects. This story was the longest in the collection at forty-four pages.
5. A Very Desirable Residence: Marital malfunction leads to murder with a nice riverside house up for grabs.
6. Mr Millcroft’s Birthday: An elderly man plans an upgrade to a nicer nursing home by bringing up the sins of the past and using them as blackmail.
If you’ve read this book before or like the classic murder mystery genre, I strongly recommend Anthony Horowitz’ novel, Magpie Murders, which I reviewed last year.
A quick look at Angela Harding’s twitter account lead me to discovering, hopefully, my next great read.
Raynor Winn’s The Salt Path comes out this week and it’s described as ‘a life-affirming tale of enduring love that smells of the sea and tastes of a rich life. With beautiful, immersive writing, it is a story heart-achingly and beautifully told.’
I hope to get my hands on a copy soon!