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The Sibyl in Her Grave (Hilary Tamar #4)

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4.15  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,323 Ratings  ·  98 Reviews
Julia Larwood's Aunt Regina needs help. She pooled her money with her friends and invested in equities-Successfully. Now the taxman is demanding his cut and they are faced with a problem - the money is already spent. Enter Julia to their rescue... But how did such amateur investors make a thousand per cent profit in record time? Maybe psychic counselor Isabella del Comino, ...more
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Published November 1st 2004 by Isis (first published 2000)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,968)
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Sparrow
Jun 18, 2011 Sparrow rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: law types
Recommended to Sparrow by: Elizabeth
Possibly this was my favorite of the Tamar series. It is lovely how this series gets better and better. I had to go back and give them all five stars just because they don't drop off and get terrible by the end. This one has hokum and euphemistic professions and an evilly helpful girl, and finally we meet Julia’s dear Aunt Regina (pronounced . . . well, you know). And, of course, murrrrderrrrr. I listened to half of it on audio, but then I was so impatient to read the rest that I sat down and re ...more
Dorian
Jul 05, 2007 Dorian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A strange little book that I'd idly picked up years ago and only turned to now. Undoubtedly, this book is not for everyone--as the Alexander Keith's Brewery in Halifax used to say: "Those who like it, like it a lot." Caudwell has a marvelous prose style: it's arch, and mannered, maybe even a little fussy, but never quite precious. Its politics are intriguingly hard to pin down--its a *queer* book in many senses of the term. A parody of the traditional English "cozy," it manages to be quit suspen ...more
Hilary
Jan 16, 2009 Hilary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It took me some time (living as I do in seclusion) to realise this book existed, it having been some ten years since the author's previous work, and, having found it, I then put off reading it, knowing that there will be no more from this writer. Even though she wrote only four novels, her death was a profound loss, not only in itself but also in that it deprives us forever of learning more of Julia, Selina, Ragwort, Cantrip, Timothy and the eternally mysterious and genderless Professor Hilary T ...more
GraceAnne
Nov 21, 2007 GraceAnne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The delectable, lapidary, sly Caudwell. Only four mysteries, but what delights.
Jamie Collins
This is the fourth and last book in this wonderfully amusing mystery series featuring an unlikely set of detectives: a group of rather frazzled young English barristers, who are more usually occupied with setting up trust funds or defending clients from accusations of tax evasion. Caudwell was herself a barrister, and these contemporary stories were written around the 1980’s - that’s the twentieth century, not the nineteenth; however the writing is highly stylized like a novel from that earlier ...more
Janine Southard
A fun little mystery story, but it didn't live up to its hype.

See, a friend of mine (sadly not on Goodreads), has been talking up Sarah Caudwell recently. Well, this is the novel I found first, so it's the one I read. And I suppose it's nice enough, but...

It all felt so contrived. Oh, the OTT "upper-class English speech" (which: I went to the wrong parties at Oxford apparently). Oh, the way everyone knows everyone (e.g., the lawyer you bump into in London happens to have a flat right next to you
...more
Heather
A novel with a truly universal theme: the perfidy of builders. It asks the question that has plagued humanity since the advent of running water: now that the plumber has ripped out all your pipes and left them in your front hall, will you ever see him again?

It also rips out your heart and jumps on top of it a few times, just when you think you're safe.

This is a surprisingly devastating and difficult book. It's sly and funny, like the others, but when I was done I had to go read some absolute tra
...more
Roberta
A modern day send up of the classic English mystery. Very well written in a mannered way that almost tipped over into silliness, but didn't. It reminded me of the .Mapp and Lucia books by E.F. Benson, with strong hints of the pub series by Martha Grimes They all have that same English country village full of eccentrics drinking copious G & Ts.
Nancy
Oct 04, 2014 Nancy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Like the other books in this too short series, implausible coincidences abound, but in the world Sarah Caudwell has created, they seem perfectly normal. Multiple mysterious illnesses and deaths occur. Are they natural or not? If someone is killing people associated with the small village of Parsons Haver, who is it and why? The young barristers of Chancery Bar, along with professor Hilary Tamar share drinks, stories, and speculation over the course of nearly a year in a most entertaining manner. ...more
Moira
Feb 07, 2009 Moira rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Beckie Weinheimer; kathy erskine
I had never read Sarah Caudwell before, but now I have to read her other books (sadly there are only a few and she is no longer with us). This reads like an old-fashioned cozy, but takes place in modern times. It's charmingly written (if you like the "dear reader" style, which I do!) and it's a very good mystery wiht a lot of twists and turns.
Roberta
Aug 08, 2015 Roberta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, fiction
I was ... amused.

This is a book I picked up recently at a library sale because I noticed the Edward Gorey dust jacket. This was not my first Sarah Caudwell, since I read Thus Was Adonis Murdered some years ago but hadn't read the rest of her books. Not that I'd avoided them, just that I am more likely to read a British cozy mystery than a send-up of one.

Actually, the nudge/wink regarding building contractors on page 26 and continued on page 56, might be equally true anywhere in the world. Selen
...more
Megan
Jun 09, 2012 Megan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The final Hilary Tamar mystery and one of the strongest offerings in the series, despite its more conventional trappings (a strange death in a country village!). I had been hoping for a Ragwort-centric story, since the other three major players had a story that focused quite a bit on them (the first book Julia, the second book Selena, and the third Cantrip) and, like Julia, I have a bit of a hopeless crush on the calm and collected Ragwort. I was still delighted by this installment, however, whi ...more
Dana Crouch (Callaway)
Dec 09, 2013 Dana Crouch (Callaway) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, 2013
I picked this up on a whim in the bookstore, and I was more than pleasantly surprised.

The prose and dialogue are exactly how I wish everyone talked all the time. Verbose and precise, much like something from Jane Austen or some other 19th-century British author (so of course it's quite shocking that I liked it so much).

The large cast of characters are unique and interesting, the plot/mystery are intriguing* without being over the top, and the humor is absolutely spot on. It's the epitome of the
...more
Kristen
Nov 17, 2013 Kristen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
The final installment in this series is just as delightful as the rest. If I reread these books at some point, I'll probably give them all five stars. In this novel, Caudwell skips the European travel and instead tackles the classic English village. I particularly liked the twist that (view spoiler)

A nice bit of meta-
...more
tom bomp
Jan 11, 2015 tom bomp rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, english, fiction
A brilliant ending to a brilliant series. I've been giving the books 4 stars out of some weird feeling that 5stars requires a "literaryness" but I felt that 5stars was deserved for a series that's been my most enjoyable reading in a long while. I'm just sad there's no more. The book is funny, has great dialogue and character writing, is tense, interesting references which aren't confusing if you don't know them, a well written gay relationship, has a bunch of twists but none which seem forced or ...more
Maggie
Jun 29, 2016 Maggie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Delightful. Caudwell has a wonderfully acerbic voice.
tortoise dreams
Aug 16, 2016 tortoise dreams rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The tax collector is knocking loudly at the door. Has Julia Larwood's beloved Aunt Regina benefited from insider trading? Only noted Scholar Professor Hilary Tamar can save the day!

The fourth and, sadly, final book in Sarah Caudwell's archly humorous take on the cozy English mystery, The Sibyl in Her Grave, ranks right up there with the first three -- winners all. This one is a little easier to read, the language a bit simpler, and the story is more tortuous than before. As usual, half the story
...more
Jenn Estepp
The last book in this series - a mere quartet, to my everlasting sadness. And it was my favorite to boot, which makes it all the more tragic. But it's so entertaining and witty and smart and I suspect these books are very re-readable.
Jane
Aug 09, 2011 Jane rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I have to admit, I judged this book by the cover. I love Edward Gorey and couldn't resist the cover art. The reviews describe the book as 'hilarious,' but it never reached laugh out loud funny for me, though it did induce quite a few wry smiles and head shakes. I think clever and amusing would be more apt adjectives. A good mystery, told mostly through letters from a main character's aunt, who lives in a quiet village where there's been a suspicious death. The central figure in Caudwell's books ...more
Hilary
Jul 17, 2011 Hilary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, crime, hilary, tamar
It took me some time (living as I do in seclusion) to realise this book existed, it having been some ten years since the author's previous work, and, having found it, I then put off reading it, knowing that there will be no more from this writer. Even though she wrote only four novels, her death was a profound loss, not only in itself but also in that it deprives us forever of learning more of Julia, Selina, Ragwort, Cantrip, Timothy and the eternally mysterious and genderless Professor Hilary T ...more
Kristen Kurzawski
This book was just as good as all of the others in the series, but it made me terribly sad because it is the last one. The death of this author is truly a loss. The wit and humor of each of these books will live on.
April
Mar 08, 2013 April rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a lovely writer! Unfortunately, I only discover her after she has died. Sigh. Still, this was my first introduction to Sarah Caudwell's mysteries and they are wonderful! Written with a good-humored tongue-in-cheek tone, Caudwell explores a team of young barristers as they try to figure out what insider trading has to do with a sharp-tongued but kind hearted Aunt Julia, a dead psychic counselor and her hapless poor relation companion who has been saddled with "The Book." Though generally lig ...more
Mike
Oct 03, 2014 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Superb. Caudwell's witty mystery novels are truly unlike any others. This was her fourth and last book, and probably one of her best. Great characters and a wondrously constructed plot kept me guessing, as they say, right up to the end.
Daniel Danciu
May 17, 2014 Daniel Danciu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sarah's last novel, not as good as the others. Accent is more on the mystery side than on the humour. The event's don't link as well as in the other books
Leslie
Mar 29, 2011 Leslie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
It's been a while since I read this one -- I've reread all the others, but put off a second read of this one. If memory serves, it's the best-written of the four, but also the darkest.

"Adonis" and "Sirens" are favorites of mine because they are narrated by the more amusing characters. I don't remember who is in charge of most of the storytelling for "Sibyl" ... I just remember finding the ending deeply unsettling. And the fact that it was the LAST one of Caudwell's literary contributions before
...more
Annette
Mar 05, 2015 Annette rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Completely enjoyable. Entertaining. Witty. These books are for those who don't want excessive violence and splattering blood in their mysteries, but yearn for mind-engaging word play and a fair dose of friendly sarcasm. Just very sorry there are only four in this series; Sarah Caudwell's death was and still is a great loss to the literary world.
Kristi Thompson
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Larinmtz
Apr 27, 2016 Larinmtz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this dry yet witty British mystery.
Jennifer
Sep 09, 2014 Jennifer rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Beach read. Not as good as the other two I have read by her, but still enjoyable.
Sylvester
Dec 07, 2013 Sylvester rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-spy, 2013
3.5* I'm not intentionally reading the series backwards - but this was the only copy available at the library, and dang it, the Edward Gorey cover got to me! Couldn't leave it on the shelf. I'd seen this author on Bettie's updates, and would've thought it was an older book (by the cover, I guess) - I don't usually venture into "present day", if I can help it. However! Glad I did. I was immediately hooked and held captive right up to the end. Excellent writing and an interesting plot.

(Thanks agai
...more
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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.

Series:
* Hilary Tamar Mystery
More about Sarah Caudwell...

Other Books in the Series

Hilary Tamar (4 books)
  • Thus Was Adonis Murdered (Hilary Tamar, #1)
  • The Shortest Way to Hades (Hilary Tamar, #2)
  • The Sirens Sang of Murder (Hilary Tamar, #3)

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“In order to deceive others, it is necessary also to deceive oneself. The actor playing Hamlet must indeed believe that he is the Prince of Denmark, though when he leaves the stage he will usually remember who he really is. On the other hand, when someone's entire life is based on pretense, they will seldom if ever return to reality. That is the secret of successful politicians, evangelists and confidence tricksters—they believe that they are telling the truth, even when they know that they have faked the evidence. Sincerity, my dear Julia, is a quality not to be trusted.” 7 likes
“I should explain — in view of my last letter, you may find it slightly surprising — that Daphne and I are now bosom friends. That is to say, she seems to think we are; and I do not feel that I know her well enough to dispute it.” 6 likes
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