Murderers I Have Known and Other Stories
The title story and ‘Canary’ search for signs of evil or innocence written on the body, and a ‘canary’ dies of toxic malice, while in ‘Daughters of the Game’ and ‘The Armour of Santo Zcnobio’ body doubles stand in for saints and film stars. Beneath a charismatic or saintly carapace there often turns out to be a man of straw.
The ‘insomniac princess’ finds that unheard melodies are indeed sweeter; whereas other stories give voice to the traditionally voiceless the artist’s model, the film double, and, in a grisly reworking of the Brothers Grimm, a girl with bells not on her toes but on her hands.
Here are fabulous images of saints and sinners, bats and nightingales, pink flesh and putrefaction in an electrifying new collection.
When it comes to the territory between commentator and storyteller, Warner is a pretty fluid shapeshifter herself. The stories in Murderers I Have Known, unremittingly contemporary in their settings and subjects, are a kind of warning about the importance of shapeshifting between selves, times, genders, art-forms, material and spiritual worlds. There is a danger, Warner suggests, right now at what she calls “the degenerate moment of the century”, of losing this ease of movement altogether.Not that this is a grim read; on the contrary, it is a lightfooted and often funny collection.’
Ali Smith, The Guardian
‘J. G Ballard maintains that there is no such thing as a perfect novel, but that short stories can, occasionally, achieve perfectioin. Evidence that he is right is provided by Marina Warner’s scintillating new short-story collection /Murderers I Have Known/ in which she, too, displays elegant modern humour shot through with a sexiness not perhaps to be expected from a writer better known for non-fiction works on myth, magic, symbolism and fairytales. ‘
Michael Thompson-Noel, The Financial Times
‘Warners’ short stories, like those of A. S. Byatt, occupy a rich and delicate terrain between the fairytale and the real, the academic and the observed. /Murderers I Have Known /contains nine stories .... spun in a glittering web that traps ideas on innocence and evil in the physical world for our inspection. Flesh is manipulated, deceived, tortured and massacred, yet the intellectual poise of Warner’s prose makes it not only bearable but highly enjoyable.’
Amanda Craig, The Times