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Mr Cadmus Reviews

Mr Cadmus by Peter Ackroyd

Mr Cadmus

Peter Ackroyd

Score pending

2 reviews

Imprint: Canongate Books Ltd
Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd
Publication date: 1 Oct 2020
ISBN: 9781786898944

A wickedly satirical novel, filled with mystery, revenge, outlandish killings, greed and jealousy, from the multi-award-winning author

4 stars out of 5
23 Oct 2020

"an unconventional village murder-mystery"

It is a mistake to try to read Ackroyd’s fiction too literally but in the end he smothers this slight novel’s narrative gaps in extravagant fantasy. Mr Cadmus returns to Italy in search of the lethal trove of precious stones that, implausibly, links all the earlier deaths, before his native island is ultimately devastated by an earthquake and eruption that encases its victims, Pompeii-like, in pumice, ash and molten amethyst. “You can hardly call this natural,” says Mr Cadmus mildly over tea in Devon, inadvertently summing up the book’s fatal flaw.

Reviews

3 stars out of 5
Houman Barekat
4 Oct 2020

"Although it verges on caricature at times, Peter Ackroyd’s affectionate send-up of parochial English primness makes for agreeable light reading. "

Their prehistories are recounted matter-of-factly, with little introspection; the women are companionable, but inscrutable. The novel takes an outlandish turn in its denouement, which involves a bizarre treasure hunt for rare amethysts on Caldera. The jewels, said to be cursed, are “protected” by mythical purple seagulls. Ackroyd has form with this kind of thing: the occult has been an occasional theme in his literary output over the years, most notably in his 1985 novel, Hawksmoor. The somewhat abrupt key change — from comic noir to gaudy mysticism — detracts from an otherwise well-crafted tale.