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Thus Was Adonis Murdered Mass Market Paperback – June 1, 1994

49 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"* 'Without doubt, one of the funniest crime writers - ever!' - Mike Ripley * 'Witty, clever... an elaborately plotted, very English and charming story.' - Publishers Weekly * 'A finely honed, icily witty gem of detective fiction.' - Mystery News * 'Caudwell's light touch and the puzzle she presents make for a diverting tale.' - Washington Post Book World --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Sarah Caudwell studied law at St Anne's College, Oxford and practised as a barrister for several years in Lincoln's Inn. She later specialised in international tax planning at a major London bank. She died in January 2000. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Dell (June 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440212316
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440212317
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.7 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #532,788 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Laura G. Carter on August 20, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I'd never before heard of author Sarah Caudwell until I saw her latest novel, "The Sybil In Her Grave", in a local bookstore. Intrigued by the Edward Gory-illustrated book jacket, I took it down & read that it was one of a series, if you will, of books containing the same characters. Not being one to start in the middle of something, I discovered that the book I'm reviewing now, "Thus Was Adonis Murdered", was the first one in her all-too-short series featuring Professor Hilary Tamar et al. Casting about for a new mystery author (and having consumed P. D. James' latest, "Death In Holy Orders"), I decided to give Prof. Tamar a try.
I just finished the book and I found it most delightful. It contains a very brilliantly-constructed conundrum of the "whodunnit" variety. Julia Larwood, one of a group of young barristers who are friends with Prof. Tamar, goes to Venice on holiday, only to wind up in bed with the corpse of the young man she's fancied throughout the trip and finally managed to engage in a one-afternoon stand. (Of course, when she first got into bed with the young man, he WASN'T a corpse, which makes his subsequent dispatch all the more distressing ...) Naturally, members of the Venice police force don't take kindly to this set of events, particularly when Julia's personally-inscribed copy of that year's Tax Finance Act is found lying next to the stiffening body ...
From London, then, Prof. Tamar and Julia's other friends at 62 New Square (Selena, Cantrip and Ragwort - all intriguing personalities in themselves) attempt to help solve the mystery and spring Julia out of jail. What follows is an erudite, often hilarious, web of intrigue, frustrated passion and outright chicanery told in VERY tongue-in-cheek style by Prof.
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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 2, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
One of the funniest and most delightful books I've ever read - though the others in the series, especially The Sirens Sang of Murder, come close. Julia Larwood is a talented young tax barrister who cannot keep her purse, her love life, or her own finances in order. When her pursuit of romance during a tour of Venice goes badly wrong, we learn her side of the story from letters home to her friend and fellow lawyer Selena Jardine. Julia and Selena, like almost all of Caudwell's characters, express themselves in literate, measured, bitingly funny prose evoking such 18th century novelists as Jane Austen and Samuel Richardson. The mystery itself starts out in a light-hearted manner, but ultimately moves convincingly into the realm of romantic obsession. Readers who appreciate sharpness of obversation and elegance of phrase will savor every nuance. Those looking for comfortable conclusions and easy platitudes concerning human feeling and behavior had best look elsewhere.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia S. Froning on May 28, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I discovered Sarah Caudwell in the worst possible way: by reading her obituary in the New York Times. Once I read her books, I was even more sorry that she died so prematurely, because her mysteries are among the funniest books I've read. Caudwell has a wonderful ironic tone. She uses the standard mystery formula populated with her broadly drawn cast of regulars to send up academics, lawyers, tax collectors, amateur detectives...the whole lot.
As someone who conducts research for a living, I was particularly amused by the following, as Hilary (our narrator of indeterminate gender) makes his/her way to work:
"On my first day in London I made an early start. Reaching the Public Record Office not much after ten, I soon secured the papers needed for my research and settled in my place. I became, as is the way of the scholar, so deeply absorbed as to lose all consciousness of my surroundings or of the passage of time. When at last I came to myself, it was almost eleven and I was quite exhausted: I knew that I could not prudently continue without refreshment."
This quotation give the flavor of the whole book, really the entire series. If you turn to mysteries for their psychological characterizations or examination of the dark side of life, this book will not do it for you, but if you love intelligent satire, Caudwell can't be beat.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 25, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is not a "typical" british mystery. There are no elderly ladies solving puzzles while knitting/gardening in draftily elegant country manors.
This is a fun book but there are some references which will be lost on Amercan readers unfamiliar with british college rivalries and customs. The humor is dry, the sardonic commentary reminiscent of Austen, Wodehouse and Coward. The plot is unusual, but the writing is terrific. What other book can make the Tax Finance Act amusing?
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 12, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Brilliant in conception of character, ingenious in plot, but above all supremely witty. Every paragraph has a clever epigram, every page is a delight.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A. Woodley on September 13, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Sheer bliss - the discovery of a whole new series off books. Well, ok, 4 new books, that are wonderfully witty, tart and completely overwhelming perfect in their own lovely style. I compare this to Evanovich because just as Stephanie Plum makes me want to go to Jersey and meet all the people with big hair - Caudwell makes the inside of a barristers office sound thrilling and unmissable.
This is drollery and high humour in sombre throwaway lines. Some things I had to read a couple of times to understand - and in the midst of it all is a very nice and complicated murder mystery. Made more complicated of course because our protagonist, Hilary, insists on solving it (at a distance) and in the most complex way possible. A great deal of fun all up as it happens.
The mystery to solve is just who murdered the beautiful Adonis (or Praxiteles as Julia also refers to him) for whom she had a brief but exciting fling on a Artists tour of Venice. Julia is the prime suspect - she was the last to see him alive - and a copy of her tax code is lying by his bed. They share an interest in the subject she being a barrister specialising in tax and he being one of the revenue.
Much of this is done in the epistolary form -ok I mean by letter but as the rest of the novel ascends into the polysyllabic at the slightest opportunity then I figure so can I. But it does it in a very good natured way and with immense humour bubbling underneath. All because Julia is completely hair-brained - she is very intelligent but cannot find her way around anything in real life so she has gone where she can least harm to any one - advising on tax positions. Hilary, our narrator is lovely, warm and slightly pompous with it. And the other characters are vaguely ditsy in their own ways too. It is a joy to read.
If you like Janet Evanovich, Jilly Cooper, Nancy Mitford, or E F Benson I feel sure this would be a great author to get into. The pity is that there are only 4 novels.
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