The Part-Time Job by P D James | Book Review | #ThePartTimeJob #ShortStory

Publisher: Faber & Faber
Available in ebook, audio and paperback (16 July 2020)
48 pages
Source: Copy received for review from publisher


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.


Monday 3 August will mark what would have been the 100th birthday of P. D. James, who was published by Faber for over fifty years following the publication of her first novel, Cover Her Face, in 1962.

In celebration of this centenary, Faber will publish today, for the first time in book form, her short story The Part-Time Job.

My thanks to Sophie at Faber and Faber for the invitation to review this short story and for sending a copy.

Our anonymous narrator has resolved to kill his tormentor, Keith Manston-Green ever since he was 12 years old. Manston-Green was a bully who terrorised his victim for years. In between working at the family locksmith business which he inherited following his parent’s death during the war, and his other part time job, like his father before him, he follows and plans and bides his time.

This cracker of a short story may only be about 20 small pages long but it packs a punch to the gut in its simplicity and execution. If I didn’t know what Manston-Green had done to deserve his fate, I could have felt sorry for him.

Told in the narrator’s first person past tense this reads like a confession. We are privy to his thoughts and actions on how he planned to commit the perfect crime. Without giving away the details, it’s so clever and so brutal.

I’ve read many of P D James’ books over the years, my favourite being the Adam Dalgliesh series. She had a wonderful talent and following on from The Part-Time Job is an essay, Murder Most Foul, in which James discusses her enjoyment of the genre and its influences and ponders on why the mystery genre attracts readers. Is it because they wish to pit their wits against the writer as opposed to the villain or detective or maybe that wrongs will be righted?

The Part-Time Job is a real treat of a book and certainly one for fans of this much missed crime writer.

Faber have also now re-issued in July 2020 A Mind to Murder, the second book in the Adam Dalgleish series, to mark the centenary.


P. D. James (1920-2014) was born in Oxford and educated at Cambridge High School for Girls. From 1949 to 1968 she worked in the National Health Service and subsequently in the Home Office, first in the Police Department and later in the Criminal Policy Department. All that experience was used in her novels. She was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Royal Society of Arts and served as a Governor of the BBC, a member of the Arts Council, where she was Chairman of the Literary Advisory Panel, on the Board of the British Council and as a magistrate in Middlesex and London. She was an Honorary Bencher of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple. She won awards for crime writing in Britain, America, Italy and Scandinavia, including the Mystery Writers of America Grandmaster Award and The National Arts Club Medal of Honor for Literature (US). She received honorary degrees from seven British universities, was awarded an OBE in 1983 and was created a life peer in 1991. In 1997 she was elected President of the Society of Authors, stepping down from the post in August 2013.

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