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A Comedy of Murders Paperback – July 1, 1994

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 355 pages
  • Publisher: Carroll & Graf Pub; 1st Carroll & Graf ed edition (July 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786700645
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786700646
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,403,160 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The first in a projected series of historical novels by Herman ( Carnival of Saints ) takes place in late-15th century Italy. Someone is plotting the death of Il Moro, the Duke of Milan. One attempt is inadvertently foiled by the dwarf Niccolo. As a reward he is placed in the service of Madonna Valentina, one of Il Moro's favorites at court. As the monastery-educated Niccolo explores the hidden passages within the Duke's castle, gathering information as an agent for the Countess Bergamini, he discovers the path to "the madman's tower" where Leonardo da Vinci dissects corpses to increase his understanding of human anatomy. Repeated attempts on the life of Il Moro misfire and lead to a bloody vendetta. The body count rises as various victims are poisoned, drowned in the castle cesspool or abandoned in a locked torture chamber. At least 12 bodies pass under Leonardo's scrutiny. As they do, he and Niccolo gather evidence to uncover the mysterious assassin known as the Griffin. Who is the Griffin and who has employed him? Is it the Borgias, the King of France or Il Moro's own brother? Herman weaves a complicated yet rich tapestry of political intrigue and adeptly places Leonardo and Niccolo in the center to sort it all out.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

The Present

More Than You Would Ever Want To Know
About The Author

George Adam Herman, Jr., was born April 12, 1928, in Norfolk, Virginia, attended parochial school in Maryland where he won 17 holy cards and set a national record for having his hands slapped by nuns wielding six-foot rulers. He attended high School in Maryland, won several writing awards and took first prize in the news-writing division at the Temple University Press Tournament in 1946 by sticking to the now-outmoded policy of putting what, where, when, why and how in the lead paragraph of every news story.
In 1947 he looked up from his writing desk and discovered girls which, as Robert Frost might say, "made all the difference."
Mr. Herman graduated with a Bachelor of Philosophy Degree from Loyola University in Maryland, prodding his father to inquire, "You can make a living at this?"
He couldn't.
In the summers of 1947 through 1949, he attended the Boston College School of Expressional Arts in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, under the Rector's Scholarship in playwriting, which means he was occasionally permitted to share a trough with the football team.
He served in the United States Army from 1950 to 1952 during the Korean Police Action which failed to even earn the official designation as a war.
He graduated from Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. with a Master of Fine Arts Degree in June, 1954, and toured with their national theatre company playing Shakespeare and Moliere, seldom winning even in overtime. During this period two of his Irish musicals were performed at the Mayflower Hotel by the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick before President Eisenhower, Chief Justice Warren and several hundred friendly drunks.
For 12 years he taught playwriting and was artist-in-residence at American universities, finally abandoning the cold northern states for Hawaii where for the next 16 years he served on the staff of the State Superintendent of Education, retiring in 1983, which caused Kilauea volcano to erupt in gratitude.
While in Hawaii, he was also Artistic Director for the Commedia Repertory Theatre, theater columnist for Honolulu magazine and senior drama critic for the Honolulu Advertiser, setting a record for death threats. During this period, he won two international playwriting competitions, eight Kuma Kahua (New Stages) awards and when he embarked from Hawaii in his out-rigger canoe for Portland, Oregon, in 1983 the Hawaii State House of Representatives passed Resolution 834 commending him for "16 years of enhancing the quality of theater through his skillful efforts as an actor, director, playwright and as a perceptive, candid drama critic," and then held a three-day luau to celebrate his departure.
His play A Company of Wayward Saints (Samuel French Inc.) won the McKnight Foundation Humanities Award in Drama in 1963, is still in print and averages enough productions a year to keep his family in spinach salads. His first novel, Carnival of Saints. was written in 1993 at the age of 65 and was published by Ballantine (NY) in 1994. It was translated into German and Spanish, precipitating two revolutions and an economic collapse. It was also a finalist in fiction in the Oregon Book Awards and a national finalist in the Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Awards. His A Comedy of Murders and The Tears of the Madonna were published by Carroll and Graf in 1994 and 1996, inspiring many reviewers to ask why.
As a professional actor, Mr. Herman has appeared on television in 19 Hawaii Five-O segments - usually as a hit man or a mad doctor - which says something about the perception of TV casting directors. He has performed over 200 stage roles ranging from Hadrian in Hadrian VII to Sir in Roar of the Greasepaint. He has appeared in television commercials for CBS-TV, Finance Factors, the Space Place, Kirin Beer, Frito-Lay, First Hawaiian Bank, Hawaiian Telephone, Love's Bread, and others; but only those named above paid his product placement fees. His ballet for children, Fraidy Cat, was premiered in October, 1997, by the Oregon Festival Ballet. For this organization he also appeared as Drosselmeyer in their annual Nutcracker and is credited with being the first actor to play the role as a humpbacked deaf-mute vampire. In June, 1998, another ballet for children, The Dancing Princesses, was premiered by the same company who then changed their name to the Pacific Festival Ballet.
Mr. Herman denies his ballets had anything to do with this.
In April, 1994, he was profiled by the Oregonian newspaper as "a moralist who likes a good joke."
He is the father of 9 children, parent to 12 and grandfather to 13.
Well, he didn't write all the time!

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Billy J. Hobbs VINE VOICE on April 14, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Who's next? Michelangelo? Peter Paul Rubens? Regardless, George Herman's "A Comedy of Murders" introduces us to a new "man of mystery"--Leonardo da Vinci! And what more fun could there be in a good mystery than to have this great man as the "problem solver"! He joins other such "sleuths" from history such as Ben Franklin, Charles Dickens, Clark Gable, Oscar Wilde, the Marx Brothers, etc. on the library shelves. In this first of a series, Herman features none other than the Maestro himself, caught in the middle of war, politics, and, you guessed it, murder. Herman, who gave us commedia del'arte in literature with his first book "A Carnival of Saints," continues this genre but introduces us to two new characters, Da Vinci and his midget (he's NOT a dwarf!) Nicolo da Pavia. The two lay foundation for the later books to come--and they are a formidable pair, to say the least.

It is 1498 and the forces of evil, mayhem, and, yes, murder are at work. As the Italian papal states are in their usual disarray; the French are moving in to take Milan, and, one might easily believe, "the end is near." Plots, sub-plots, and even sub-sub-plots keep this book moving at a fast-paced clip. Lots of characters (easy to get lost in them, too!) provide the tonal integrity and dynamic symmetry, colorful and eventful as it is. Alas, so much so that Leonardo's personality (even character) is not fully realized. Perhaps in later books he fulfills this obligation. Still, Book I doesn't suffer for it.

Il Moro (Duke of Milan) is the victim of numerous assassination attempts, the latest unsuccessful thanks to the quick thinking of Nicolo, who just happens to be up on the scaffolding hiding with a stolen bottle of wine.
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Format: Kindle Edition
A Comedy of Murder is a richly researched and richly imagined visit to that amazing time of city-states run by princes, and explorations of our planet and the sciences, and a church more concerned with rich coffers than rich souls, and wars fueled by personal vendettas, and personal vendettas fueled by wars. We meet the Duke of Milan, the French King, the Pope, minor city-state princes, courtiers and other hangers-on. The reader does not need to be an expert on these times or people; the author informatively guides us through them.

Have you ever seen Richard Lester's film The Three Musketeers? While reading A Comedy of Murders, I found myself playing a film of the story in my mind, in the style of Lester's filming of the classic historical adventure tale. Both tales are told as bawdy, silly, historical farce, in which real people from the past are imagined as flawed, corrupt, pompous idiots who are lost in circumstances beyond their control.

There are some characters who rise above others in their moral fortitude, and one of those is the artist-architect Leonardo da Vinci. The author weaves Leonardo's life and work into the story, and from about page ninety, Leonardo plays a large role in the story. A Comedy of Murders is actually the first novel in a series of comic novels that feature Leonardo da Vinci and his friend, the fictional Niccolo de Pavia, a diminutive scholar and courtier.

There are eight books in the series, all historical comedies for adults set during the height of the Italian Renaissance, full of courts, castles, dungeons, torture, gossip, courtesans, rivalries, out-sized egos, rampant libidos, political scheming, erudite learning, monumental building project, and the creation of timeless art.
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By Steph on May 17, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It dragged on, I found it very hard work. At times I felt the author was more preoccupied with showing off his historical knowledge than telling an engaging story.
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By B. Smith on March 22, 2006
Format: Paperback
I hated "The Da Vinci Code" so when I read the jacket of Mr. Herman's book I was not tempted to purchase until the girl i was with proded me and said, "Oh, I've read that one. It's killer. You'll love it."

I baught it (just to show the girl I vauled her input) and I loved it. I read it in two days!
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