The Victim by P.D. James

I bought The Victim by P.D. James from The Riverside Bookshop in London, and as you can see from the image, I also bought Glittering City by Cyprian Ekwensi from the Penguin Modern collection. I haven’t read any of James’s novels but I know how revered her work is. This short story of ‘the perfect murder’ was therefore a great introduction to one of the masters of crime fiction.

I’m a big fan of the collection of shorts that Faber & Faber have put together. I think they are great for busy people who don’t have much time to read. In less than fifty pages, you can absorb a classic short story by a literary powerhouse, that can give you as much to think about and discuss as an epic novel.

In The Victim, a bitter ex-husband meticulously plots the death of the man his wife left him for. As readers, we get the back-story, the pre-meditation, the murder and the outcome, in thirty-five pages.

I enjoyed this! The Victim is compelling from start to finish. The main protagonist is the epitome of the, ‘It’s always the quiet ones,’ persona. The murder made me wince, and the conclusion is satisfying – he doesn’t get caught, but he doesn’t get what he wants either…

Short stories are getting increasing levels of exposure in the publishing industry in recent years. Examples like The Victim will certainly help the cause. Faber have stories by Alan Bennett, Edna O’Brien, Sally Rooney and Kazuo Ishiguro to name but a few in their collection.