This is a small collection of PD James stories that came out or was reprinted a few years after her death. It’s interesting to me that it’s packaged as “The Mistletoe Murder” in that for one, that’s not much of a Christmas story, and also, it’s the least good of the stories in the collection. She begins with a small introduction about the short story and I was thinking about it as I read the rest. She talks about the ways in which the mystery or crime fiction genre in a lot of ways really got it’s start through the short story, but also the ways in which it’s almost entirely abandoned the format. The reasons for this are obviously because of the ways in which the market for short fiction has dried up both in the wider reading public in general, where short stories are often seen as a means to a publishing end….publishing short stories to test the waters before a publishing house will be your novel, and economically, as people just really don’t pay for stories anymore. I would also suggest that novels are so much cheaper to print and buy these days that the novel is the more salable commodity. I do like the ways in which e-books, online publication, and audiobooks has developed a market for shorter fiction again, especially in genre fiction where it never exactly went away, but has had a kind of upswing.
So it’s important to maybe look at these stories as exercises in genre. Over all it’s a satisfying little mini-collection.