Sarah Caudwell's Thus Was Adonis Murdered is the book I've re-read most often since I first encountered it in the early 1980's. I submit that it's the wittiest mystery ever written, with smiles and laughs on practically every page. Caudwell's prose is sparkling and delicious. That passage about strawberries that's not about strawberries is priceless.
The humor alone might be enough to draw me back in time and time again, but of course there's so much more to the book than just being a sharply observed screwball comedy of manners. There's an ingenious whodunit, intricately clued, carefully investigated by the "penetrating scrutiny of the trained scholar," and satisfyingly revealed. Julia may be my favorite narrator in all of mystery fiction, and I love how Caudwell uses the epistolary structure to conceal and reveal - it's nice how Julia is both aware and unaware of what's going on around her.
Most of all, I love the people in this book, and the deep friendship they share. Whether they're dealing with Henry's totally unreasonable expectation that they should be working during the day or they're going all out to prove that Julia couldn't possibly be involved in a murder, these folk are all in. For all the kidding and the jokes and exasperation, this "decorative little group" love each other, respect each other (well, maybe not Cantrip), and they stick together. Caudwell paints these characters so distinctly as individuals as also as a tight-knit group.
Finally, there's Hilary Tamar and the greatest mystery of them all. Let's talk about what Caudwell tells us about Hilary and what she hides. It's a mystery so subtle that first-time readers of the book may not even realize it's a mystery. Just who is Hilary Tamar?
I look forward to our conversation at the session on Saturday afternoon, and throughout our weekend together in Indianapolis.
It's Not Too Late
We still have open registration at Magna XXV, October 25-27. Register at Magna cum Murder for your chance to meet our outstanding authors.
If you prefer to receive
Pomp and Circumstantial Evidence by email pdf, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to our list.