Now on Amazon, Scherzo was nominated for the Booker Prize and is available in Kindle format for the first time.
Here’s the Amazon review of the original hardback:
Jim Williams’ Scherzo takes us to the city of gondolas and masks in its most decadent period, to an 18th-century never-never land where dates and identities blur. Castrated as a boy to preserve his soprano voice for the church, Ludovico survives by singing, whoring and his wits. With a visiting French philosopher going by the name of Arouet, Ludovico finds the stabbed and disembowelled body of his employer’s rival Signor Molin hanging from a bridge. Ludovico’s troubles do not end there. He is pursued by Jesuit conspirators and a jealous madman obsessed with a blue velvet suit Ludovico has borrowed from his gigolo friend Giacomo (as with Arouet, Williams makes us guess at Giacomo’s true identity).
As he shares in Arouet’s investigation of the murder, Ludovico matches wits with the sharpest minds of his time and proves considerably more than the Watson-like narrator he at first appears. Williams has produced one of the more decorative historical thrillers of recent years and at the same time interestingly subverts the whole genre. After all, “scherzo” means “joke”, and there are deep levels at which this is not a wholly serious book–“the solution to a mystery is not like the goal of a journey, and that it is the journey not the destination which enlightens us”. The games intrinsic to thrillers are played with delicious frivolity. And yet, what is serious is the touching portrait of the vulnerable narrator Ludovico who gradually acquires self-respect amid the threats and contempt of his social superiors. —Roz Kaveney
Reviewers please email Marble City for a review copy (available in mobi, epub and pdf).