Sarah Caudwell’s legal mysteries are just delightful. This is the third one I’ve reviewed this year, and I’ve been moving very slowly through the series because I wanted to savor it. Now I only have one left.
The Sirens Sang of Murder, like the other two Professor Hilary Tamar mysteries before it, revolves around a group of young barristers in England who like to spend most of their free time either sitting around drinking, or going out on dates. In between they practice law and get caught up in ridiculous murder plots. In this one, young barrister Michael Cantrip is sent off to the Channel Islands to help settle some obscure tax-law case. Soon two of the parties to the case are dead, and another, a glamorous French accountant named Gabrielle, has asked him to serve as a sort of bodyguard.
Honestly–the plot matters so little. I understood about 20% of the references to the tax-law case, even after I remembered that I could use the feature on my Kindle to look up the lawyer-ish words I didn’t know. The murders, the legalese–it’s all just a pretense for a story that is completely hilarious and entertaining. The format of these books is always the same–one of the barristers gets sent somewhere remote or overseas for a case, they send back a series of letters or telexes (when did people use telexes? I never have been able to place these books in time) which the rest of barristers (and the Professor) read over many glasses of wine, eventually the overseas barrister ends up in some kind of jam, which requires Professor Tamar to get involved and solve the mystery. The Sirens Sang of Murder is just as good as the first book in this series, and I actually liked it better than the second. I think I’ve said it before, but if you like Jeeves and Wooster (or any of that sort of dry British humor accompanied by ridiculous escapades) and mysteries, you’d like these. They’re a lot of fun.