cover image The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher

The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher

Hilary Mantel, read by Jane Carr. Macmilllan Audio, unabridged, 4 CDs, 4.5 hrs., $24.99 ISBN 978-1-4272-5170-1

Mantel’s clever, keenly observant prose is well rendered by reader Carr’s classy, British-accented delivery. The 10 short stories in this collection are a blend of ordinary people struggling emotionally and physically, and more-seriously flawed characters who are disturbed, exposing a dark side of human nature. The first story, “Sorry to Disturb,” is an incisive, cringeworthy look at unwanted friendships and the peril of being too nice. While in Saudi Arabia with her husband for work, a stranger inserts himself into a woman’s life in a persistent, uncomfortable fashion. As she struggles to be rid of him without being hurtful, it becomes obvious his intentions are romantic, and there are some humorous moments. Mantel throws a shock into the seemingly tame “Winter Break,” as an ordinary taxi ride becomes a murderous journey. A sudden stop, followed by the narrator’s repetition of a single word, remains with the listener long after the conclusion. “The Heart Fails Without Warning” is a harsh look at a heartbreaking illness. Anger, frustration, and sibling snark are expressed deftly. The provocative conclusion, “The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher,” is light on action, but heavy on dialogue between two strangers: a mild-mannered woman with a deceptive edge to her voice, and a gruff, accented IRA assassin who commandeers her apartment. Throughout, Carr provides lively, nuanced expression to Mantel’s complex characters. A Henry Holt hardcover. (Sept.)