Dead Clever is the first book in a mystery sequel with university lecturer and lover of crime literature Lily Pascale. Actually, this was not only the first book in the series but Scarlett Thomas‘ first published book ever. The subsequent parts of the trilogy are called In your Face and Seaside.
Scarlett Thomas sends her heroine Lily Pascale into a murder case of a young student wholly unexpectedly and accidentally. Lily just broke up with her boyfriend Anthony. To clear her head and get a change of scene she decides to spend some time at her child’s home in Devon by the sea where her mother and her brother Nat still live. At the local university she is offered a part-time job as a lecturer (Creative Writing and Conventions of Crime Literature and Horror Fiction). Somehow desperate for money she accepts the job. When she comes in for her course, a class of second years, she learns that the girl who was murdered was in this particular class of hers.
It is really fascinating how that special scarlett-thomassy writing style already shines through this first book of hers. She puts her genuine fields of interest like „solving riddles“, „deciphering code“ and first of all, obviously, „literature theory“ in her debut novel and choses the designated genre for such things – criminal literature. Later on in her novels, she moves slightly away from strict criminal fiction with Bright Young Things and PopCo, especially with Going Out, although there are always elements of crime like tension and thrill in them still (thinking of The End of Mr Y, I can’t imagine a book which keeps its readers in similar suspense).
I tend to save up Scarlett Thomas‘ books which I haven’t read yet and when I finally come around them I’m completely transfixed and thrown into another world. I used to ask myself if the experience I made when I was much younger, that is to get totally emersed in books so that I would forget the world around me, completely gets lost when you get older. But then when I am deep into a Scarlett Thomas novel, I realize again that this quality doesn’t depend on the age of the reader but on the quality of the writer and the bond which exists between these two persons in the moment of reading.
For more Scarlett Thomas visit her website. You will find some samples of her teaching (talks and lectures) there as well.
A very nice and highly informative article on Scarlett Thomas which includes an interview with the author you will find here. The post definitely belongs in the category „articles which I’d love to have written myself“. 😉
Especially, I liked the entrance sentence (isn’t that rhyme just weird?):
In the wake of her two most recent books, PopCo and The End of Mr. Y author Scarlett Thomas is attaining “best author you may not have heard of” status among many lit bloggers.