Sarah Caudwell, Thus Was Adonis Murdered (1983)

To my knowledge, Sarah Caudwell’s mysteries have never been translated to French. I don’t know if the rights have been sold, but if anyone needs a translator to get Caudwell known in France, I’ll apply.

Mmh, let me think about this again.

Because as I get to the fine print (something you should always do with lawyers and tax specialists), Caudwell has (sadly, had) such a typically British humor that whoever will attempt translation will have a tough job translating subtly dry Shakespearan jokes. Or to make these slapstick scenes alive and screamingly funny while keeping an impeccably serious voice (pompous would be too harsh for Oxford don Hilary Tamar, but that’s probably the first word that springs to mind…)

This mystery is the first in the series, but I got it for Christmas after I’d read and enjoyed two others: what a nice surprise to see the plot set in Venice! Caudwell is always so right about atmosphere and she offered me mental holidays in Italy for free.

This time the heroin (victim?) is the clueless, charming, sexy geek Julia (before the word geek was even invented), who has serious plans for her holidays: study the Finance Act, listen to all the explanations doled out by the tour guide in case she hands out a quiz at the end of the tour, drink as much as she does at home (which means, round the clock) and get beautiful young men in her bed. But of course her plans will go awry (although she does get a few young men in her bed), beginning with a bloody nose while stepping into a vaporetto.

The progress of the plot is duly commented, like in her other mysteries, in the local drinking hole close to the young barristers’ office. There are a lot of letters going back and forth so the action is not as swift as a thriller, but the book is a witty cozy mystery that’s designed for entertainment and not for serious thrills. I got a kick out of seeing these clever young people shirk work and drink and smoke. That’s so pre-PC!

I desperately want to spread the word about Caudwell and embarass my friends (both online and IRL) by saying “you absolutely have to read this”, so be warned, I’ll be hoarding copies and distribute them all around!


One thought on “Sarah Caudwell, Thus Was Adonis Murdered (1983)

  1. To my shame (seeing that I love reading mysteries and I lived in Britain for centuries), I had never heard of Sarah Caudwell, but it sounds like an intriguing read. I’ll have to find her and stalk her books now – thanks for the introduction!

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