The Part-Time Job by P.D. James – review

Published by Faber and Faber

Publication date – 16 July 2020

Source – review copy

I wasn’t in any particular hurry to kill him. What was important was to make sure that the deed was done without suspicion settling on me…

Follow P D James, ‘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. A small, dark, treat, ‘The Part-Time Job’ is published in this special edition – for the first time in book form – in celebration of what would have been P.D. James’ 100th birthday.

P.D. James was a prolific writer, perhaps most famous for her series of 14 novels featuring detective Adam Dalgleish, as well as compendiums, short story collections and other novels.

One short story, The Part-time Job, was re-issued in a pocket size book, to celebrate what would have been the author’s 100th birthday.

There is a skill to good short story telling. You have to excel at the art to make the reader feel they aren’t missing out on anything and to leave them thinking they have read a complete tale. The Part-Time Job is such a story.

The reader knows from the first page that the narrator has had a long held grudge about the man who bullied him as a boy. The narrator walks us through his plan for revenge and it’s execution.

There are few characters. The main ones, of course, is the narrator and the focus of his wrath. Others mentioned are merely extras, there to flesh out the tale. There is something mundane about the little glimpse of the life of the narrator that we see, but that makes the story all the more real. This man, with murder in his heart, is just an everyday person, one you probably wouldn’t give a second glance to if you passed him on the street.

The ending is very cleverly done, taking a deft turn away from what the reader expects.

I really can’t say any more without spoiling the story. A perfect little crime mystery to read in a tea break or whilst waiting in the queue for the supermarket.

After the story there is a short piece from the author herself, discussing her path to writing crime fiction, and pondering on what makes it so appealing.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Sounds like a real delight, Janet – I like little pocket sized editions like this. May have to check this one out… ;D


  2. JacquiWine says:

    A couple of years ago, I read The Mistletoe Murders and Sleep No More, two excellent collections of this author’s stories. This seems to be in a similar vein.


  3. Sounds a good stocking filler! I’ll bear it in mind…


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