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Thus Was Adonis Murdered Mass Market Paperback – June 1, 1994
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"* '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 the Audio CD edition.
About the Author
Sarah Caudwell is also the author of Thus Was Adonis Murdered, The Shortest Way to Hades, and The Sirens Sang of Murder. She studied law at St. Anne's College, Oxford, was called to the Chancery Bar, and practiced as a barrister for several years in Lincoln's Inn. She then became a member of the legal section of a major London bank, where she found herself specializing in international tax planning. Sarah Caudwell died in January 2000.
Haddon trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama where she won several awards prior to joining the BBC Radio Drama Company. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
That said, there are a few nagging issues that prevent me from giving it five stars. At no point in the book, even the point where Hilary literally states that we have all the information required to know the identity of the killer, did I feel that there was enough for the reader to have any inkling of what happened. My reaction to the reveal was not "Aha!" but more like "whatever". Granted, I'm not necessarily the sharpest fork in the soup, but I was trying.
The letters from Julia and Timothy are so incredibly long as to stretch credulity. If you're from my generation or younger (the book was written before I was born) maybe that is an ill informed reaction. But Julia seems to recall the precise dialogue of everyone that she interacted with on that day as well. I realize that the letters are forming a necessary story element of exposition, and plot advancement, since Hilary himself never ventures to Venice. Yet I've read similar epistolary fiction where the letters come off much more genuine.
One last thing, a number of professional reviews talk about the mystery of the professor's gender. Do you concur? If not for the first name Hilary, it is hard for me to attribute any mystery to this. The professors internal reactions seem eminently male to me, especially in regard to things like the lack of thought of being a burden. "I'm sorry to miss breakfast at Ragworts....I assumed I would spend the day with you Selene, cooking for me will be no imposition for you, you only need to make me an omelette for lunch and sole with caper sauce for dinner...etc." Yes, this was all paraphrased.
Let me reiterate. Funny, funny book. Definitely get your hands on it somehow.
By the way, the summary Amazon gives bears NO relationship to the plot. Julia is not on holiday with her boyfriend, she is on holiday looking for sexual adventure. She finds it: then the young man is found dead with Julia's copy of the Tax Act (she is a tax lawyer) found by the bed. It looks as if she is the only person who could have killed him. But Hilary Tamar, an Oxford don of ambiguous sex but unambiguous scholarship, unravels the mystery and saves her reputation.
In other words, those who find the characters unconvincing are mistaken. They are indeed a world away from Boston or Texas, and this can either attract or repel according to your temperament. Another difference from an American mindset is the acknowledgment of sex as a pleasant pastime that can be pursued with equal zest by both sides - the friends at New Square happily follow Julia's ever-growing list of conquests (which have indeed previously included one of the group) with no sense of moral opprobrium.
Ah, Julia - what a wonderful portrait of a charming person quite unfitted to deal with the complexities of the modern age (Or perhaps of any age.) Her friends are concerned - from long experience - that she will be travelling to Venice alone, but one of them points out that the tours of the city will be made with a guide. Professor Tamar responds:
"..the qualities for a guide are not those of a nursemaid or a guardian of the mentally infirm. The poor fellow will take his eye off her for a moment and she will wander off. What then?"
"She will ask the way back to her hotel."
"She will have forgotten the name of her hotel."
"We have made her write it down on a piece of paper."
"She will have lost the piece of paper. She will find herself alone in a strange city. She will not know where she is or what she ought to do."
"The same thing," said Selena, "happens in London at least once a fortnight."
Another amusement - Caudwell, as an Oxford graduate, can't resist having her first-person narrator, also an Oxonian, poking fun at the ancient rival, Cambridge. One of the group, Cantrip - ah, suitable name - is a Cantabridgian and Caudwell has made him speak with lots of general British down-market slang, which the Professor believes must be the typical dialect of Cambridge, not recognizing it among his set of academic and legal acquaintances!
Others have outlined the plot, but the difference between this and the "typical" murder mystery is that the plot - though neat and suitably surprising at the end- is really the peg on which to hang the marvellous comedy of manners. Your enjoyment may vary, but Caudwell did her part, to perfection.
If, on the other hand, you like murder after gory murder, you will be disappointed. If you require nonstop physical action, it's probably not for you. But if you want to chuckle and exercise your mind with sharp and entertaining dialogue while solving a murder, then pick it up and relish the fun!