Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Sibyl in Her Grave

The Sibyl in Her Grave, by Sarah Caudwell, is the last of the 4 Hilary Tamar novels and was published in the year of the author's death. Professor Tamar is the narrator and "detective" of sorts, and most of the action is revealed by way of lengthy letters. This book was amusing, with a light sense of humor and plot twists. There are some convenient coincidences, but then, it's a mystery novel, isn't it.

from the back of the book:

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, who has offended Aunt Regina and her friends by moving into the rectory, plowing under a cherished garden, and establishing an aviary of ravens. When Isabella is found dead, all clues point to death by fiscal misadventure.

So Julia calls in an old friend and Oxford fellow, Professor Hilary Tamar, to follow a money trail that connects Aunt Regina to what appears to be capital fraud — and capital crime. The two women couldn't have a better champion than the erudite Hilary, as once again Sarah Caudwell sweeps us into the scene of the crime, leaving us to ponder the greatest mystery of all: Hilary, him — or her — self.

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