Short stories are generally considered to be ‘uncommercial’, so authors know they have passed a professional milestone when publishers are happy to release an anthology of theirs. Peter James, best known for his skilfully constructed Inspector Grace series, passed that milestone long ago. A Twist of the Knife (Macmillan, £16.99, Spectator Bookshop, £14.99) contains 30 stories, new and reissued, of varying lengths. (The shortest is just 34 words long.) They vary in tone and subject, as well as in length, but most have an agreeably sinister quality reminiscent of Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected. Taken as a whole they remind us that James is much more than a crime writer. Some are ghost stories, some are blackly humorous and others have touches of horror; all of them are reliably readable. Perfect for the bedside table.
This article first appeared in the print edition of The Spectator magazine, dated 15 November 2014