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The Sirens Sang of Murder (Hilary Tamar #3)

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  1,038 ratings  ·  61 reviews
Young barrister Michael Cantrip has skipped off to the Channel Islands to take on a tax-law case that's worth a fortune -- if Cantrip's tax-planning cronies can locate the missing heir. But Cantrip has waded in way over his head. Strange things are happening on these mysterious, isolated isles. Something is going bump in the night -- and bumping off members of the legal te ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 277 pages
Published September 9th 1990 by Dell (first published October 1st 1989)
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On the subject of the pen Julia became indignant. She had never heard of such a thing -- or at any rate she had never read of such a thing -- or at any rate not in any piece of respectable crime fiction published since the beginning of the Second World War. A physical object, forsooth, with the initials of the suspect engraved on it -- why, it was worse than a fingerprint.
...If the progress of the past half century was to count for nothing, then one might as well go back, said Julia scathingly,
Jun 14, 2011 Sparrow rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: law girls
Recommended to Sparrow by: Elizabeth
Another stupendous installment of the madcap adventures of the gang at 62 and 63 New Square! This time, the mystery has the same background story as John Grisham’s The Firm, but it is deeeelightful, instead of being kind of dark and boring. Again, what I find wonderful about all of Caudwell’s books is that the unraveling of the stories are so light and fun, but the denouement always has a sense of insight into the depth of misunderstanding and tragedy of which humans are capable. These character ...more
The plot in Hilary Tamar books is almost beside the point. The point is the voice that Caudwell captures — the hyperliterate, formal, stylized, awesome voice. I don't know if anyone has ever actually talked like this, but oh, I hope they did, I hope someone still does, and I hope I meet that person and spend as much time as possible with them.

Also: dear jacket copy, some of us do not give a fig about Hilary Tamar's gender, preferred pronoun, or status as a hero or heroine. (No, seriously, the ja

I'm rereading Sarah Caudwell this summer and having such a good time! And I really had to add a star when I finished this one; it's even better than I remembered. Mostly because a good portion of it is "narrated" by Michael Cantrip -- the story's sweetly sexy doofus (think Bertie Wooster being forced to work in a London law firm) -- via fax.

Caudwell is amazing. Who else could make mysteries based on British tax law so compelling? But though the mysteries, themselves, are very good, it's really t

“Yes,” said Julia. “So the impasse—which I take to be the correct expression for a situation in which no one makes a pass at anyone—continued throughout my stay . . . except that on the way back to our hotel I tripped over something, and Patrick took my arm to prevent me falling over. This had a very peculiar effect on me, even worse than the breathlessness and indigestion which I have previously mentioned—I felt as if suppose an ice cream might feel when hot chocolate sauce is poured over it.” ...more
Another superbly entertaining entry in this series. The Sirens Sang of Murder features more great European locations (the Channel Islands, France, Monte Carlo) and more delightful language. Caudwell's narrator, Hilary Tamar, has a voice that's nothing like real life, but infinitely more funny and charming. Here's one example:

"The accompanying photograph, it is fair to say, showed Julia to some advantage, through emphasizing, to an extent Ragwort would have frowned on, the decolletage previously
You wouldn't think that taxes and accounting would be funny or interesting, but Sarah Caudwell manages to make them both.

I have to say, however, that I agree with Mr. Justice Arthur Welladay when he states:

In my view a man who enjoys the privileges of living in a country, and yet is not willing to make his just contribution to that country's exchequer, is no more an upright or honourable man than one who spends a week at a first-class hotel and leaves without paying his bill.
While not my favorite of the series, this book does just what you'd want out of a "Cantrip gets into trouble; surprisingly, not all of it is his fault!" premise. Yes, there are plenty international tax law details, too, and I quite enjoyed the finesse with which Caudwell lays out her mysteries and constructs clues and shadows, but the character stuff was all sorts of perfect. Julia and Cantrip are writing a novel starring not-even-thinly-veiled Mary Sues of themselves! Selena and Ragwort offer p ...more
Nothing is certain except death and taxes, and this book has them both. The junior barristers of Lincoln’s Inn become involved with a group of tax planners who are trying to locate the heirs to a trust fund. There’s a complicated scheme concerned with tax avoidance, and much of the action takes place in the famous tax havens of the Channel Islands, the Cayman Islands and Monaco.

This was an amusing read, but I think it’s the weakest of the three books so far. The plot involves numerous coincidenc
A bit slow to start, unless you are fascinated by the intricacies of British inheritance law, but eventually an enjoyable mystery. The humor is very dry and British (lots of subtle digs at Cambridge by the Oxford-educated narrator). I'm a little surprised these haven't been done on TV by Masterpiece.
I find I like the group of friends who keep stumbling upon mysteries more and more with each book in the series. This book has an entertaining sub-sub plot involving two of our gang (Julia and Cantrip) collaborating on a novel which seems to be a romance/mystery.

In some ways the plotting of the mystery and who-done-it doesn't really matter too much. The telling of the story is just a fun ride. Of course, a series of suspicious "accidents" is good fodder for a mystery. Of course the likely suspe
Enjoyable as always but perhaps one of the weaker of the series
Love the language.
Moira Fogarty
The third installment in Sarah Caudwell's Lincoln's Inn series featuring Professor Hilary Tamar is a cut above its predecessor. Once again, the reader will have a difficult time with the dry and cumbersome establishing chapters at the start of the book which discuss English tax law in vivid detail (tax was Caudwell's area of legal speciality), but once you've passed page 75 all that is behind you - ahead lies sex, murder, intrigue and the Channel Islands.
Cantrip starts the story with his Cambri
In the third of Caudwell's Hilary Tamar mysteries, the young barristers of the Chancery Bar at London's Lincoln Inn call on Professor Tamar to help them unravel a problem they are having with a tax-law case that is worth a fortune. They are trying to find a missing heir, and in the process discover that two of the members of the legal team involved in the case are dead. They are worried that there may be more. Once again, most of the story is told through the reading of letters to and from Londo ...more
Loved all the others, but this one did not meet expectations sadly...maybe because I knew it was the final before her death? The plotting was less interesting and the group talk was minimized. I definitely laughed out loud many, many times - so that should be worth more stars but I can't award them dishonestly. I do wish she had lived longer - what a talent she had! Loved that group of friends.
Feb 06, 2011 Jessie rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anglophiles
What a dreadful slog! And therein, dear readers, lies the fault for this intrepid reader, or if not the fault then that is to say the foremost reason for which this tome became a mirelike ooze through which one waded, like a water-fowl whose feathers were so besmirched with odious sludge as to make of flight an impossiblity, towards a faint horizon in fair hope of rescue, or indeed of justification for the journey. Holy cow! I have so far been able to distance myself from ..... egads! I can not ...more
Bev Taylor
sorry - this was hopeless to me

how on earth an author can justify writing such a book - let alone people reading it - is beyond me

the cove describes it - a legal murder mystery

i will not even try to describe it

Marisa James
Sarah Caudwell is always wonderful - there are just a few too many implausibilities in this one to make it a favorite, but the deadpan humor and the complex relationships make it really good nevertheless.
It took me awhile to get into this book. I had gotten it at the library book sale and I wasn't quite sure what I was in for. But it picked up toward the middle and I quite enjoyed the end. Fairly clued, this seems like it might be an interesting series to read.
Written in the first person, Professor Hilary Tamar is helping a group of lawyers sort out why so many of them seem to be dying. Is it in connection to the mysterious Daffodil fund? Or something else entirely?
Professor Hilary Tomar must save his young barrister friend from danger. Already people involved in a tax law case are dead. A good mystery written with understated British humour.
Daniel Danciu
The best in Sarah's series of 4 books. Cantrip's telexes are hilarious and the story is great.
Jenn Estepp
My last favorite of these, maybe because this one seems to have a lot of legalese, of which I am not fluent. A nice resolution, though.
The detailed discussions of British tax law make this installment of the series a bit more heavy going than previous novels, but I thought it was well worth it. Cantrip is a great source of misquotings and malapropisms, and the snippets of the romance he and Julia are working on are great send-ups of both female-oriented romance and male romances such as the Bond books (and, naturally, there is a side trip to Monte Carlo).

probably not the best of the series with which to begin, but still delight
Karen wadey
When I started this book i thought it was set in the 40's or 50's because of the language used, calling someone a blackguard,touching ones forlock and viz this or viz that, no it must be the 80's as Martina Navratilova is mentioned as far as I'm aware young people did not talk like that in London at that time!
I only continued reading hoping it would improve, no silly annoying characters, Wellieboots, Ragwort and Catnip please don't insult your readers. If there are anymore books in this series
Didn't finish. I picked out this book primarily because I was interested in the premise that the narrator's gender is unidentified (his/her name is Hilary; pronouns are neatly avoided by having him/her be a first-person speaker, and no one else ever seems to indicate a difference). The main plot, though, was pretty much dull as dishwater--whoever thought that a mystery centering on tax attorneys and their work was a good idea? The language is very British and the humor (what's recognizable as su ...more
I do love this series! Another fast-paced, witty, British murder mystery. The pull quotes describe it as a literate comedy of manners, and rightly so. I smiled frequently at the trials and tribulations of the young barristers and at Professor Tamar's gossiping disguised as Scholarship. The plot revolves around tax havens, a trust fund with missing heirs, and the use of those new-fangled telex machines... with a few murders thrown in, of course. Good fun and highly recommended.
Kelly Belvis
I preferred the Sybil in Her Grave to The Sirens Sang of Murder but this was also enjoyable. It, as do all the Caudwell novels, involves British Tax lawyers and an Oxford scholar. My preference for "The Sybil" was it's setting. I found the characters in the village reminded me of a Miss Marple Mystery. This also involves a remote location (the Cayman Islands) and includes a humorous "chase" scene. Both of these books are enjoyable because they are quick, light reads and humorous.
I read Sarah Caudwell for her characters and her glorious way with words. I don't really care who murdered whom or why, but how I wish she had written more than four books. This one has the usual ensemble of cheeky young barristers along with that model of prudence, Prof. Tamar. Set mostly in the tax-havenly Channel Islands, it offers great scenery along with much interesting commentary on the habits of the very, very rich. And Caudwell is, as always, very, very funny.
another great book in the series. not exactly a "puzzle" mystery but the ending is highly satisfying and it all fit together nicely with some great misdirection. the characters and writing are regularly funny, the locations and descriptions constantly vary and are interesting, it builds suspense well - a highly entertaining and enjoyable book. a great series that I'd highly recommend to anyone who likes mystery fiction
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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 Shortest Way to Hades (Hilary Tamar, #2)
  • The Sibyl in Her Grave (Hilary Tamar, #4)
Thus Was Adonis Murdered (Hilary Tamar, #1) The Shortest Way to Hades (Hilary Tamar, #2) The Sibyl in Her Grave (Hilary Tamar, #4) Anne Perry Presents Malice Domestic (Malice Domestic, #6) Women Before the Bench

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“The trouble with real life is that you don't know whether you're the hero or just some nice chap who gets bumped off in chapter five to show what a rotter the villain is without anyone minding too much.” 20 likes
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