Thursday 18 March 2010

The Man Behind Masquerade

As a lover of puzzles, I was fascinated recently to watch The Man Behind Masquerade, the story of Kit Williams and his best-selling treasure hunt book, Masquerade. It is 30 years since the book was published, and as I watched the programme, I found myself wondering why I had never got round to reading it. But then, there are so many marvellous books that I haven’t read that even to contemplate them is a bit daunting….

Williams is a gifted artist. He is also a very practical man, with a highly ingenious turn of mind – should he ever turn to detective fiction, it would be fascinating. His work includes, for instance, the Wishing Fish Clock in the Regent Arcade shopping mall in Cheltenham (which I first discovered, incidentally, during a lovely weekend spent at a CWA conference in that elegant spa town some years ago.)

Masquerade is a beautiful book, with complex clues pointing to the place where Williams, with Bamber Gascoigne as a witness, buried the golden hare that Williams designed and made Countless people tried and failed to unravel the mystery, but the solution was attended by intrigue. The winner was later discovered to have relied on information as to the hare’s whereabouts supplied by someone who knew Williams, rather than pure deduction. The hare was sold at auction and is now owned by an unnamed family in a distant land. However, the programme saw Williams reunited with the hare for the first time – an emotional moment for this remarkable man.

This all set me wondering how many detective novels have featured treasure hunts. I can’t think of many off-hand, although Christie’s Dead Man’s Folly makes clever use of a ‘murder hunt’.


Deb said...

I don't remember this book, but the reference to Bamber Gascoigne made me smile. I used to watch him on "University Challenge" every week when I was a child.

Ann Elle Altman said...

I haven't read that but I do like those sorts of mysteries. Lately I've been watching the second season of the new Law and Order UK. I really like the detectives on the show. I don't know... for me, I prefer the UK version over the US.


Martin Edwards said...

Deb, me too! And I still watch it, with Jeremy Paxman.
Ann, I've never seen Law and Order, I must catch up with it one of these days.

Anonymous said...

Martin - I know exactly what you mean! There are so many books that I haven't read - but would like to - that I can't even begin to contemplate them. And that's not counting the excellent books that I haven't heard of yet. Well, it's an enjoyable challenge. Thanks, too, for this reminder of one that I never read, either, but have wanted to.

Morgenländer said...

Martin, "Old Hall, New Hall" (1956) by Michael Innes features a treasure hunt. It´s a wel-written mystery which is also very funny. Sir John Appleby does not appear in it.