The choice of Hilary Mantel’s new short story, The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher, for BBC Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime slot (your report, 15 December) is to be deplored.
The book is, of course, a compelling piece of fiction beautifully written and imaginatively conceived, but it is in very poor taste, for two main reasons: it envisages, with undisguised glee, an act of terrorism, and it could distort history so convincingly that some might believe that it is even partially true.
There are two protagonists in the story. One is a woman, who is tricked into admitting a gunman into her apartment when Mrs Thatcher is due to appear in the street below.
The woman – clearly an evocation of Mantel herself – instantly falls in love, describing the man in glowing terms of admiration.
Surely there is far too much gratuitous hatred everywhere without this kind of second-hand cruelty at the hands of an author of Hilary Mantel’s standing.