CBR Bingo 13 – Libations
The version of P.D. James’s Sleep No More: Six Murderous Tales I read has chocolates in tidy rows on the cover. Needless too say, they are used to murderous effect.
Years ago, a colleague of mine told me he had met P.D. James at a reading. He said she was very regal and went into detail about how she comported herself. This came to mind as I read Sleep No More. She sounded like a character in one of her stories: the older, stately woman with sharp eyes who is never the killer, but has her well reasoned suspicions who is.
The six stories in Sleep No More are not radically different in terms of the genre. But they are so well written, so enjoyable, that it was like putting on a cozy bathrobe. Though I wouldn’t say James is normally a cozy mystery writer. One of the things I love about her full-length books is the characters are drawn in detail, warts and pain and all. Her mysteries have great, solid plots, but it’s the people who are most fascinating. In Sleep No More it feels like James is just having a good time.
The stories revolve around different murders. A young boy witnesses a murder one snowy night. A man has his revenge on his ex-wife’s new man. Santa Claus is murdered. You know, the usual.
The book was a quick read with interesting twists and turns and an oftentimes witty bent. There is one story that is deep and sad like her full-length books; it really struck me. Overall the stories embody the quote I used as the title of this review: you never know all the workings of the human heart. That’s what makes a good mystery.