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The Shortest Way to Hades (Hilary Tamar Mystery, #2)
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The Shortest Way to Hades (Hilary Tamar #2)

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  1,495 ratings  ·  80 reviews
To avoid taxes, the family agrees to change the trust and support heiress, ravishing raven-haired Camilla Galloway, except dreary Cousin Deirdre, who wants money, then dies. The young London barristers handling the trust, especially suspicious Julia, summon Oxford friend Prof Hilary Tamar. Accidents escalate. And the naked lunch at Uncle Rupert's?
Kindle Edition, 195 pages
Published October 18th 2012 by Robinson (first published 1984)
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May 18, 2011 Sparrow rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: beach readers
Recommended to Sparrow by: Elizabeth
Proper British lawyers + orgies = win! I love these ladies like they were my legal sisters. My sisters-in-law, if you would. Bah dum tsss. Thank you folks, I’m here all week. Anyway, they are so wonderful. Instead of hilarious Shakespeare jokes, like the first book had, this book has some impressive Homer references. I wouldn’t really say they’re Homer jokes, but it’s possible I’m missing some of the hilarity, not being the Homer scholar that I wish I was. It’s more like Homer wit. Like the firs ...more
Ivonne Rovira
Jan 07, 2014 Ivonne Rovira rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Edmund Crispin fans
Oxford don Hilary Tamar is summoned by former students -- all barristers in offices in Lincoln’s Inn, 63 New Square -- to investigate the case of the drowning death of the woman who stood in the way of her beautiful cousin, Camilla Galloway, saving 3 million on a 5 million estate. Julia, one of Tamar’s former students, thinks her client, whiny Cousin Deidre, was murdered; however, Tamar is loath to agree. However, when more and more mishaps pile up, Tamar reconsiders and flies out to the Greek i ...more
The funniest moment was drugged Selena letting go of all inhibitions and reading her Jane Austen in the middle of an orgy. And this struck a chord: "There are days in which Julia does not open letters. She is overcome, as I understand it, by a sort of superstitious dread, in which she is persuaded that letters bode her no good: they will be from the Gas Board, and demand money; or from the Inland Revenue, and demand accounts; or from some much value friend, and demand an answer. If a letter arri ...more
I'm not usually a big murder-mystery reader, but Caudwell's are irresistible and I only wish she'd written more of them. The plots are tangled in a satisfying way, and in this case the story was bound up with arcane aspects of British inheritance law and Greek translation. At the same time, the characters are loopy and the events are farcical, with an utterly British humor about everything.
I'm hooked on Sarah Caudwell's Hilary Tamar series. At first I thought the cast of characters were hopelessly silly, but I have fallen for them. A loose group of attorneys and professors who all seem less mature than college students keep stumbling into murders in England and abroad. The coincidences are improbably and the liberties they take with their work schedules are excessive, but I have fallen for them and look forward to the rest of the series.

Oh yes, this one is about estate law. Of co
Tombom P
Pretty funny mystery, on par with the first in the series (although I agree Julia makes a more interesting voice than Selena). Only a few jokes are laugh out loud funny but it consistently kept a smile on my face - as others have said, it's pretty dry humour but I like that. Sometimes it goes into tangents about the English legal system or Homer or cricket but it's never too hard to follow and for me that's part of the charm. Also continues the same refreshing attitude to sex and sexuality as in ...more
Discovered this writer, in real life a lawyer, tax adviser, crossword adept and chronic pipe smoker, purely by chance. A fun mix of John Mortimer, Agatha Christie and P.G. Wodehouse. Addictive, but sadly there are only four in the series...
"I am an historian--my profession largely consists of speaking ill of the dead."
Another clever mystery, but oh gosh, there was an extended cricket scene. The sport of cricket is utterly incomprehensible to me, and I'm surprised I didn't throw the book out amid the lengthier passages detailing bowls and overs and runs. (I think the author went on to make fun of the inclusion of the excessive cricket descriptions, but I couldn't summon up a sense of humor about that. Cricket! One of the worst thin
One side-note before I begin: I either didn't realize when I bought it or had quite forgotten that this book qualifies for my loosely-defined sub-genre of academic mysteries. How delightful to have that surprise in store when I settled down to read!

What a fun, witty, twisty little mystery! It's all about an inheritance worth five million pounds and someone who thinks that's five million good reasons to commit a murder. You have dear old Sir James who had six children and who came up with an nift
Margaret Barnes
Sarah Caudwell was a Chancery Barrister and Tax Specialist who wrote a four novels before she died at the age of 60 in 2000. The book is described as a legal whodunit. The story revolves around a large estate which is held in trust. for the young heiress Camilla Galloway. The family agree to support the application to vary the trust in order to avoid a tax liability, except for cousin Deidre who demands a small fortune for her signature. Deidre has an accident and the young London barristers han ...more
This wickedly funny, cleverly crafted British mystery is one of four murder mysteries (alas, only four, as far as I can tell) written in the 1980s by Sarah Caudwell, a barrister-turned-author. My favorite of the four is The Sirens Sang of Murder, probably because it was the first I read. The Shortest Way to Hades and Thus Was Adonis Murdered are also excellent. The Sybil in Her Grave does not at all live up to the other three, which is a shame considering the author's limited canon.

All feature a
Another hilarious and well-crafted mystery novel from Sarah Caudwell! As with "Thus Was Adonis Murdered," we have an element of the travelogue (this time amidst the lush Greek islands) and the satirical pomposity of Professor Tamar (our gender-ambiguous Oxford Don and our armchair detective) and the smart, sassy, sardonic group of young barristers he associates with bantering amusingly throughout the unfolding of the mystery. This time, it involves a very large and glamorous bunch of heirs vying ...more
Sometimes I have a hard time starting a new book after finishing something I've been reading for awhile. I sat down with this book, not sure it was going to take, and was completely drawn in by the end of page 1. Most of the "action" of the story is told to the narrator after the fact or through letters, so there are many different voices telling the story, all with their own quirks. Hilary Tamar is a bit of a snob, but that's part of the fun of this very dry, very funny murder mystery.
Three and a half stars. Hilary Tamar is a stodgy professor who seems to be involved on the mysterious affairs of his former student, Timothy, and his friends. The English humor is understated but enjoyable and the mystery is engaging. This episode involves Professor Tamar responding to Timothy request to help him with a murder. Quite good.
Daniel Danciu
Second book in the series that started with 'Thus was Adonis Murdered' (which I read last year). A witty combination of British humour and brain teasing Krimi. Cantrip is even funnier with his slangy Cambridge English and the narrator as bright as always.
This is the fourth and last of Sarah Caudwell's hilarious, awesome tax lawyer mysteries for me (though I guess the second in the series -- I found no need to read them in order). The plot was redonkulous (sp?) as usual but also really great, not that I remember what happened. The books are great overall and I particularly enjoy the nerdy legal plot points, not to mention the odd culture of practicing law in the U.K., which frankly seems much more enjoyable than practicing in the U.S. Either that ...more
This was an extremely entertaining mystery: witty, erudite, clever and original. The main sleuth, Professor Hilary Tamar, a legal academic of uncertain gender, is amusing and unusual - given to avoiding work and cadging free meals & wine from the group of young barristers who she/he advises.

The plot was lively and there were plenty of colorful Greek settings, in addition to the usual upper crust English society background and the less usual Inns of Court in London. I enjoyed the legal backg
I love all of Sarah Caudwell's books. I have been waiting to savor this one, and it did not disappoint. Few writers are better with that British sly humor and sarcasm involving word play than Caudwell. In this novel, our intrepid historian is asked to examine a basic inheritance of a 5-million pound estate in which it appears that the wrong girl (the mean, ugly one inheriting a small stipend) gets murdered. The attractive, friendly heiress does not get murdered, which puzzles Hilary deeply, unti ...more
I enjoyed this book, but it was a slow read. Caudwell's pace is slow but rich. Each page is filled with a wonderful wit. The characters are all so specifically drawn. It's interesting for a mystery to have such a pace. The set-up: a family wishes to avoid three million pounds in taxes on a five million pound estate by supporting Camilla, the beautiful heiress. That is all but unattractive, dreary Diedre, her cousin who demands a small fortune for her signature. Diedre turns up dead. Hillary Tama ...more
enjoyed the characters, intricate plot, action and trip to Greek Islands with Homer thrown in for good measure.
Marisa James
Utterly brilliant Sarah Caudwell, flirting with tax law and Greek mythology and suspicious relatives.
The second of the Hilary Tamar books. A little less compelling than the first, but good nonetheless. Again, the mystery was solvable. The characters were fun (I adored Selena and Julia at the orgy and then esp. Julia with Rowena later), although there were many parts I found slow (and no, I do not like descriptions of cricket matches; I do not understand them).

I am not sure, however, why Caudwell thinks that Classicists deny any historicity in Homer? That is certainly not true. However, Classici
This witty murder mystery has some of the campy fun of Bertie Wooster & Jeeves, with the charm of a Dorothy Sayers mystery thrown in.

You will either love it or hate it. If you don't like (or understand) dry British humor, don't bother. It is intelligent and witty with lots of literary references thrown in. Written in a delightful prose style with a few laugh out loud passages thrown in.

There are only 4 Caudwell mysteries as she died in 2000 of cancer at the age of 61. I will eventually get
The drawback of Hades is that it is not narrated by either of my favorite "voices" in the Caudwellverse ... and Selena is just not as amusing as either Julia or Cantrip.

Hades might present the best puzzle of the four books, though, and the reverence shown to classical Greek texts is satisfying, if you're of a geeky literary persuasion.

Oh, and there are some hilarious orgies. So it has that, as well. With one gal getting drunk/bored and reading Jane Austen aloud to the lecherous participants.

I've read one of this series (Thus Was Adonis Murdered) and was beyond delighted. I'm going to go back to the beginning.)

Hmm. I had the impression this was the first book, but it apparently isn't. In any case, this was a delightful, funny, witty, clever read. I'm not entirely sure why Caudwell makes such a point of disguising her protagonist's gender. Professor Hilary Tamar is carefully never referred to in any gender-specific way. It does have interesting effects, but it is also a bit distracti
Kay Palkhivala
Third time of reading. Still a gem and a joy!
Witty, funny and very very Oxford!
This isn’t as laugh-out-loud funny as the first book, but it’s still very amusing. Our narrator, Oxford professor Hilary Tamar (whose gender is never revealed, which I didn’t even notice until I read other people’s commentary on the series) and the gang of young barristers of Lincoln’s Inn are solving another murder mystery, this one involving a multi-million dollar trust fund and an heiress with lots of relatives.

The book is again partially epistolary, and the letters are my favorite part. I lo
Moira Fogarty
Not quite as hilarious as the first (Julia's correspondence from Venice outshone Selina's epistles from the Greek Isles, alas) and I found some of the legal subtleties of English estate law to be willfully obtuse, but still a fun little mystery and enjoyable to be reunited with the marvelous Hilary Tamar and her crew from the Nursery at Lincoln's Inn once more. Nautical adventures were fun, and I also enjoyed the spot of justified housebreaking. Will plunge into book #3 shortly.
Clever, clever Sarah Caudwell. A romp mystery read. Some of the high English convoluted prose gets old to me fairly quickly. And I can only suspend my belief so much within these scientific and lawyer prone exercises. But the dry humor and the hilarious circumstances are worth the tedium of the style. I know I am in the minority on this. But events like that orgy in Rupert's flat and finding her pleasure in reading Jane Austen amongst the throng- that is priceless.
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Sarah Cockburn (1939-2000) wrote under the pen-name Sarah Caudwell. She was a mystery writer. The four books of her "Hilary Tamar" series are her only novels other than The Perfect Murder which she co-wrote with several other novelists, but she also wrote several short crime stories. She was the half-sister of Alexander Cockburn.

* Hilary Tamar Mystery
More about Sarah Caudwell...

Other Books in the Series

Hilary Tamar (4 books)
  • Thus Was Adonis Murdered (Hilary Tamar, #1)
  • The Sirens Sang of Murder (Hilary Tamar, #3)
  • The Sibyl in Her Grave (Hilary Tamar, #4)
Thus Was Adonis Murdered (Hilary Tamar, #1) The Sibyl in Her Grave (Hilary Tamar, #4) The Sirens Sang of Murder (Hilary Tamar, #3) Anne Perry Presents Malice Domestic (Malice Domestic, #6) Women Before the Bench

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“You will be interested to hear, Hilary, that it [the drug] had a most remarkable effect — even on Selena after a very modest quantity. She cast off all conventional restraints and devoted herself without shame to the pleasure of the moment."

I asked for particulars of this uncharacteristic conduct.

"She took from her handbag a paperback edition of Pride and Prejudice and sat on the sofa reading it, declining all offers of conversation.”
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