Man, I loved these books. I slowly stretched them out over a whole year so I could really enjoy them. The Hilary Tamar books are a series of legal mysteries, which I know might sound horrifyingly boring, but in fact they are a true delight. If you like mysteries, or witty, clever writing, you should try these. Sadly, there are only four of them, but they’re all fantastic.
The Sibyl in Her Grave is the last one of the series, and like the others, it’s narrated by Professor Hilary Tamar, who works at Oxford but spends a fair amount of time in London sitting around drinking with a group of young barristers who keep getting involved in complicated situations which often involve murder. In addition to Prof. Tamar’s narration, about half the story (like previous ones) is told through a series of letters. In this case, most of the letters are addressed to one of the barrister from her aunt, who lives in a small town and has an unpleasant neighbor who may or may not have been murdered. Most of the book centers around the barristers trying to solve the mystery.
One thing I love about these books is how tight they are. It may seem that a lot of unrelated things are happening but every plot point is important. You know how in some mysteries there are so many unnecessary details thrown in about what the protagonist ate for breakfast or what they’re wearing that day (Sue Grafton and Charlaine Harris spring to mind)? The Hilary Tamar books contain none of that. There’s a whole subplot in this one about a carpenter that seems completely unrelated, but Caudwell ties it all together. It’s a very satisfying feeling to read one of her books, and I’m a bit sad to finish this series.