It’s no secret P. D. James was a mentor and friend to Auntie M for 15 years until her death. In fact, her own Death Unscripted was written as a promise to the Baroness and is dedicated to James.

So it ‘s no surprise that the Christmas treat she has for you is Faber and Faber’s new collection of short stories to enjoy, Sleep No More.

The subtitle is: “Six Murderous Tales,” and its easy to see why the publisher’s chose that phrase to title the stories they’ve arranged that bring back the words of one of the greatest crime writers of the 20th century.

The collection ranges over decades in various English settings, some with strong remininces of the narrator, such as in “The Yo-Yo” where an old man facing death looks back onto a school age Christmas when he was a witness to a murder and chose to say nothing about it.

It’s a toss-up as to who’s the real victim in “The Victim” when a revenge killing has a twisted ending readers won’t see coming. Another chilling tale recounts the experience of a young woman, set free to return to the home she left as a child, as her memory clears and she remembers the real reason why she’s become “The Girl Who Loved Graveyards.”

The thread these stories have in common is the genuis of James, whose keen insight into human nature as illustrated in her crime novels is on display in these stories. It’s a varied methodology she uses for her killings, whether it’s a blue poison bottle, a knife for cutting linoleum, or a revolver.

Sleep No More, those same words that horrified Macbeth, is an apt title for stories that explore the unsettling remnants of murder that affect these characters, whether through remembrance or participation.

It’s a wonderful book, read with the eye of sadness as one remembers there will be no more great stories from this Queen of Crime. Savor every lush description, every telling detail, every moment of chilling horror.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

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