Murder in the Dark is a collection of short fiction by Canadian author Margaret Atwood, published in 1983. Some of the pieces were previously published. The 27 pieces range over a variety of styles, including fictionalized autobiography, parables, travel stories, satires and prose poems. The pieces hold together through their major themes of loss, menace and terror, and men's abuse of power.
Murder in the Dark refers to a childhood game (also played by adults) in which one person is secretly appointed murderer, another is appointed detective. The detective leaves the room, and in the dark, the murderer "kills" one of the other players, who screams and plays dead. At the sound of the scream, the detective returns to question all the players, in order to determine who is the murderer. All the players must tell the truth, except for the murderer, who must lie. Atwood uses this game to describe the relationship between the author, reader and critic: the writer is the murderer, the critic is the detective, and the reader is the victim.
Simmering is a satire that presents the future as a time when traditional Western gender roles have been reversed: men are housekeepers and women work in offices. Cooking and recipes are status symbols for men, who develop secret societies with handshakes named after culinary dishes. Women suffer kitchen envy, and still dream of freedom.