Imagine a Whodunit narrated by Rupert Everett (Algernon in The Importance of Being Earnest) – that’s what you get when you read Sarah Caudwell’s Thus Was Adonis Murdered. It is the first murder mystery that is also a comedy that I’ve ever read, and I enjoyed it immensely!

The story is narrated by the self-styled Scholar, Hilary Tamar, and it follows the investigation of a murder where the prime suspect is Hilary’s incredibly intelligent but hopelessly inept friend, Julia, who always manages to get herself into trouble (luckily, people always seem to arrive in time to help her out of it).

The book states at the beginning that Julia is innocent of committing the murder, so the tension in this particular murder mystery doesn’t stem from wondering if she’s innocent, but rather, how her friends are going to prove her innocence. I, for one, kind of wished that it hadn’t been stated that Julia wasn’t a suspect, but leaving that question unanswered til the end would have diminished the capacity for humor, so it works.

The whole book is written in a very posh, nose-in-the-air tone – you know, the exaggerated upper-crust British accent that people pull when they want to sound snooty. I, personally, love the humor that stems from such a tone. All of the characters are overly intellectual and pretentious and oh-so much fun to laugh at, which is the whole point.

If there was one point at which I found myself getting a little annoyed, it’s that the clues for the mystery were not the kind that would enable readers to solve the mystery on their own. I always enjoy having a sporting chance, and here, I felt like I didn’t have one – the key bit of evidence that starts the whole domino effect of solving the thing is a bit of obscure scholarly knowledge that very few people (as the book itself points out) would have. I suppose though, since this book does function rather as a spoof, that could be deliberate.

Anyways, fun book – it’s got a good sense of humor, the pacing is lively enough, and the dialogue is witty. I’d recommend it to people who like snooty British-esque humor and Whodunit stories.

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