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The Sibyl in Her Grave the Sibyl in Her Grave
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The Sibyl in Her Grave the Sibyl in Her Grave (Hilary Tamar #4)

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  953 ratings  ·  79 reviews
Julia Larwood's Aunt Regina needs help. She and two friends pooled their modest resources and invested in equities. Now the tax man demands his due, but they've already spent the money. How can they dig themselves out of the tax hole? Even more to the point: Can the sin of capital gains trigger corporeal loss?
That's one for the sibyl, psychic counselor Isabella del Comino...more
ebook, 368 pages
Published October 28th 2009 by Dell Publishing Company (first published 2000)
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Sparrow
Jun 18, 2011 Sparrow rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
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
Hilary
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
The delectable, lapidary, sly Caudwell. Only four mysteries, but what delights.
Jamie
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
Moira
Feb 07, 2009 Moira rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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.
Megan
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)
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
Jane
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
Kristen
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
Hilary
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
April
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
Marisa James
The best of the best! The perfect British murder mystery, as far as I'm concerned. The number of brilliant details requires multiple readings for full enjoyment.
Daniel Danciu
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
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
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.
Kristi Thompson
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jennifer
Beach read. Not as good as the other two I have read by her, but still enjoyable.
Sylvester
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
Shirin
Of the four Sarah Caudwell's, this is one of the best.
Spotsalots
While this final example of Sarah Caudwell's fiction is not, to my mind, her best, her mysteries are among the best comic novels one could hope to find, so not-her-best is much better than what most authors have to offer. This time, her usual narrator and protagonists have, for example, a household vulture to (indirectly) contend with. It is a great misfortune that Sarah Caudwell spent most of her life practicing law and so little of it writing fiction.
Hilary
Didn't like it. The style was nice, and the letters from the aunt (which continue throughout the book) were amusing, but reading a book with all those letters breaking up the narrative is difficult and distracting. The lack of information on Hilary was annoying, not "charming and mysterious" as the reviews say. Plus, the endless English lawyer references made the book rather sloggingly dull. Don't trust the "great cozy!" reviews, and steer clear.
Jennifer
I thoroughly enjoyed this mystery. As in all of these Caudwell mysteries, the reader is kept at arm's length from the main characters, but I was still charmed and amused by them. It's fun to pick apart the mystery too. The author almost always gives you the clues you need to figure out whodunit (and sometimes, knowing human nature, it's just easy to guess), but this one kept me on my toes for a while.
Laura Morrigan
A darkly delightful little mystery. A horrid psychic is murdered in her house. She leaves behind a pet vulture and a pathetic unlikeable daughter. I liked the main character, and the clever way the story is written to conceal his/ her sex. I loved the final revelations at the end. I had almost completely forgotten about this book, it was so long since I read it, but now I really want to read it again!
Sheila
Actually, I'm not sure how to rate this book. It didn't exactly keep me spellbound, and it took me a while to get into it; however, the characters and the slow pace grew on me, and the book kept my interest until the end. Worth a try if you like slow-paced, quirky, character-oriented stories. I admit I only picked it up in the first place because of the Gorey artwork on the cover.
Christina
I've enjoyed all four of these mysteries built around the British legal system. This one was especially good. As always, Caudwell's sense of humor is dry and biting, and her characters are vivid and interesting. Add in a mysterious figure in a black limo and a former rectory that is now home to a psychic and several ravens, and you have an unusual and clever mystery.
Karen
Marvelous style and memorable characters. A true loss that we only have 4 mysteries from Caudwell. I was a little let down at the end, it wasn't the ending I wanted. And I'm very disappointed that there won't be any more. This reminds me of the time I finished the 4th Julian Kestrel book (Kate Ross) and then found out the author had died. Definitely gone too soon.
Susan
I was delighted to learn there was one more Sarah Caudwell mystery. The clever conversation, dry humor and familiar cast of characters are as enjoyable as ever in this short book, with events largely unfolded in letters. The mysteries of insider trading, blackmail and murder take a bit of a backseat though to the characters and the narrator's wit.
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Sarah Cockburn wrote under the pen-name Sarah Caudwell (1939-2000) 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...
Thus Was Adonis Murdered (Hilary Tamar, #1) The Shortest Way to Hades (Hilary Tamar, #2) The Sirens Sang of Murder (Hilary Tamar, #3) The Sybil in Her Grave Anne Perry Presents Malice Domestic (Malice Domestic, #6)

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“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.” 5 likes
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