The opening piece Sorry to Disturb was originally published as a memoir, detailing Mantel’s life in Saudi Arabia in the early 1980s and the uneasy friendship she formed with a Pakistani businessman. Most haunting, though, is Mantel’s account of her ill health and the subsequent “fierce drug regime” she was on. In the final story, and the one from which the collection takes its name, Mantel imagines an IRA sniper invading the home of an unsuspecting Windsor resident – who mistakes him first for a plumber, then a paparazzo – so he can take out the PM as she leaves the private hospital the flat conveniently overlooks.
Death rears its head in many of the stories – from the inevitable wasting away of a teenage anorexic, a woman suddenly struck down by a fatal heart defect in a moment of shock, a child killed in the dark by a reckless driver, and a woman who sees the ghost of her dead father at Waterloo. Mantel’s writing is dark even when it’s comic and this collection is deliciously macabre.
The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher is published by Fourth Estate .