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Friday, July 15, 2016

#18 Murder most fun

I read this book way back when, probably not long after it came out in 1978. I remember thoroughly enjoying it. I read more of Susan Isaac's books, but never liked any of the others as much as this one. And I saw the movie when it came out in 1985, starring Susan Sarandon and Raul Julia. I remember great chemistry between Sarandon and Julia, but the more constrained movie never allowed them to consummate their attraction, unlike the book, which has plenty of good sex between the two main characters (which was surely one of the reasons I liked it so much).

After reading it again, I can say that I enjoyed it nearly as much the second time around--especially since in the intervening decades I'd completely forgotten who the murderer was, which made it just as much fun to try and figure out. 

The book was a big bestseller back in the day. It's a combination of the bored housewife genre of that time (Diary of a Mad Housewife, Sheila Levine is Dead and Living in New York, etc.) and a romp of a murder mystery. The main character is a bored (of course), smart, funny Long Island housewife named Judith Singer. Her life picks up when she begins an investigation into the murder of a local periodontist, a raging philanderer who not only philandered but took compromising photos of his conquests, any one of whom could have plunged the fatal ice pick into the back of his neck. 

The murder investigation is a heck of a lot of fun with a long list of suburban housewife/suspects. And the romantic relationship that develops between Judith and the sexy police lieutenant investigating the crime is so satisfying. Isaac's writing keeps all the balls in the air with a light and humorous touch. It's a talent I respect, having read enough murder mysteries to know that this type (the romp-ish, sexy ones) are often confusing (too many similar suspects) or nonsensical (the clues don't add up) or infuriating (the conclusion comes out of left field and doesn't build on what leads up to it). In this genre, Compromising Positions is an standout. 

Sarandon and Julia doing the It's a Wonderful Life sexy telephone thing.

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