My only regret is that I shan't be alive to savour my retrospective triumph. But that is of small account. I savour it every day of my life. I shall have done the one thing I resolved to do when I was twelve years old - and the world will know it. Follow the 'Queen of Crime' as she takes us into the mind of a man who has waited decades to enact his patient, ingenious revenge on a school bully.
'On the whole, it was easier than I had expected. Only once did I feel myself at risk. That was when the Inspector suddenly intervened. He said in a harsh voice: "He married your wife, didn't he? Took her away from you some people might say. Nice piece of goods, too, by the look of her. Didn't you feel any grievance?" I had been expecting this question. I knew exactly what I would say.' The late, great P. D. James takes us inside the mind of a murderer.
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.
P. D. James was frequently commissioned by newspapers and magazines to write a short story for Christmas, and four of the best have been drawn from the archives and published here together for the first time. From the title story about a strained country-house Christmas party, to another about an illicit affair that ends in murder, plus two cases for detective Adam Dalgliesh, these are masterfully atmospheric stories by the acknowledged 'Queen of Crime'.
St Cedd's Church fete has been held in the grounds of Martingale manor house for generations. As if organising stalls, as well as presiding over luncheon, the bishop and the tea tent, were not enough for Mrs Maxie on that mellow July afternoon, she also has to contend with the news of her son's sudden engagement to her new parlour maid, Sally Jupp. On the following morning the village are shocked by the discover of Sally's body. Investigating the violent death at the manor house, Detective Chief-Inspector Adam Dalgliesh is embroiled in the complicated passions beneath the calm surface of English village life.