Book Review: Sleep No More: Six Murderous Tales

Sleep No More: Six Murderous Tales by P. D. James

Book review by Jim Scott

I implore you join the throngs who love the work of this British grand-dame of mystery writers. Called by many the “queen of crime,” and others “the doyenne of detective novelists,” James left a legacy of over a dozen, priceless mystery novels and short stories.  She received the Mystery Writers of America Grandmaster Award and the National Arts Club Medal of Honor for Literature.  She was awarded the Order of the British Empire and was created life peer in the House of Lords as Baroness of Holland Park.

            I have selected Sleep No More (2017), a delicious collection of her short stories to induce interest in and further exploration of this thoughtful and meticulous writer’s work.   

            Should you move along to her mystery novels, you will discover “detective story” told as penetrating analysis of men, women and society, dissecting social privilege, politics, the nature and expression of romance, beauty, the fine arts, and religion.  There, her literary protagonists are Scotland Yard police commander Adam Dalgliesh – a Jaguar-driving inspector and poet; and Cordelia Gray, private investigator and owner of Pryde Detective Agency in London.  

            James subtly undergirds her work with the use of irony and control of structure.  This touch is evident throughout her detective masterpieces, Death Comes to Pemberly (2011). Beware,, for as in all of James’s work, murder (often grisly, never delicate) is the focus, and always within a larger conversation marked with intelligence, manners and meaning.

Hip Hot and Happening in the Bookshop – YA Novels

As I was flipping through the news app on my phone this morning I came across an article about a poll being conducted by NPR to name the “Best-Ever Teen Novels”.  I have been on a Young Adult book kick lately and just finished Kristin Cashore’s Graceling series (I loved it!) so I was interested to find out what people were voting for and if I could get any good ideas for what to dive into next. 

There are so many amazing adult books out there I find I get out of touch with what the younger set is reading and with all of the amazing YA authors. To be considered a YA book the story must be written for teens between the ages of 12 and 18.  In addition, the subject matter cannot be too racy or violent.  About one third of the items on the list are series or trilogies.  There are some classics on the list but the majority of the books are more recent.  One of the most important factors in determining the list was if teens were given the book would they voluntarily read it.

If you are looking for something that will be a hit with your teenager, a gift for a teenager or if you are like me, just catching up on what’s going on, this list is a great place to start. 

NPR runs book polls from time to time.  You can check out some of their older lists on their website as well as some great book reviews and literary information.