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The Shortest Way to Hades (1984)

por Sarah Caudwell

Outros autores: Ver a secção outros autores.

Séries: Hilary Tamar (2)

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6921524,368 (4.1)49
It seemed the perfect way to avoid three million in taxes on a five-million-pound estate: change the trust arrangement. Everyone in the family agreed to support the heiress, ravishing raven-haired Camilla Galloway, in her court petition -- except dreary Cousin Deirdre, who suddenly demanded a small fortune for her signature. Then Deirdre had a terrible accident. That was when the young London barristers handling the trust -- Cantrip, Selena, Timothy, Ragwort, and Julia -- summoned their Oxford friend Professor Hilary Tamar to Lincoln's Inn. Julia thinks it's murder. Hilary demurs. Why didn't the heiress die? But when the accidents escalate and they learn of the naked lunch at Uncle Rupert's, Hilary the Scholar embarks on the most perilous quest of all: the truth....… (mais)
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All of the members of 62 New Square are representing individuals of one family with respect to changing the family’s trust arrangement, this needing to be done to avoid paying some 3 million pounds in taxes on a 5 million pound estate upon the death of the matriarch. But all the parties must agree, and young Deirdre, just turned 18, decides she wants more money than the agreement allowed; shortly after the family agrees to her request, she accidentally falls to her death. If further deaths are to be prevented, Professor Hilary Tamar must leap ahead of a possible killer’s mind…. This is the second of four novels featuring the amateur sleuth Hilary Tamar, written mostly in the 1980s (the final book was published in 2000) and reissued some 10 years later, when I discovered them. One delightful aspect of the series is that we never know if Hilary is a man or a woman, which leads to an awareness of how little that matters. Primarily, though, these books are very funny, definitely in the comedy of manners tradition, with 1980s-specific musings on sex, sexuality and conventional wisdom thrown in. Recommended, but read the first novel (“Thus Was Adonis Murdered”) first in order to get the most out of this second one! ( )
  thefirstalicat | May 3, 2021 |
Second of Caudwell's four mysteries involving Professor Tamar and the young barristers of Lincoln's Inn, and maybe not quite as fresh and amusing as the first, but still very enjoyable. A young woman falls from a balcony on Boat Race day in circumstances that make it seem as though there may be a connection with a trust of which she was one of the possible beneficiaries, and the professor becomes involved in another investigation conducted mostly by correspondence. There's some interesting sailing around Corfu, an attempt to locate Nausicaa's laundry-list, and a Corfiot cricket match that owes more than a little to A. G. Macdonell. Also perhaps a little bit more detail on the law of variation of trusts than most of us feel we need to know, a couple of good steamy orgies, and some fascinating information about the study of errors in the transmission of manuscript texts. ( )
  thorold | Jun 14, 2020 |
Not as engaging as the previous, although with a bunch of well turned phrases and funny situations. ( )
  themulhern | Nov 9, 2014 |
Six-word review: Law professor investigates heiress's suspicious death.

Extended review:

A quintet of young London barristers and a cheerfully freeloading professor of law constitute a formidable investigative team when a suspicion of foul play enters an otherwise arid legal proceeding. That the victim's loss is unlamented is irrelevant; someone still stands to gain when the prescribed order of inheritance is disrupted. The denizens of Lincoln's Inn and their academic colleague don't intend to let the matter lie unquestioned--especially not when one of their number appears to be threatened.

The delightfulness of Caudwell's second Hilary Tamar mystery, successor to Thus Was Adonis Murdered, falls a little short of the mark set by the first. This is due in part to a very drawn-out explanation of the legal matters at issue in the plot and in part to a parallel prolonged play-by-play description of a cricket match, the crucial difference being that the game does not seem to figure in the storyline except as a pretext for drawing certain characters together. There is no apparent reason for the progress of the game to be so exhaustively recounted. When we add a similarly detailed account of an obscure controversy surrounding aspects of transcription and translation of ancient Homeric texts--which, however, are used cleverly in the unfolding of the plot--we have a lot of weight dragging down the movement of the story.

So although I continue to enjoy the interplay of the characters and their irrepressible British quirkiness, the mystery story was to me very slow and a bit elusive to follow.

In due course I'm sure I will read the remaining two installments; but I can't give this one more than three of the expected three and a half stars. ( )
1 vote Meredy | Sep 5, 2014 |
Another crime solved by Professor Hilary Tamar in usual somewhat dithery style.
  ritaer | Jun 8, 2014 |
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» Adicionar outros autores (2 possíveis)

Nome do autorPapelTipo de autorObra?Estado
Sarah Caudwellautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculated
Cox, PaulArtista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Gorey, EdwardArtista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Haddon, EvaNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado

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This page is an exception to the rule that my friends J.T. and J.B. never appear on the same side of anything. Those that follow are dedicated to them jointly, in gratitude for their kindness and encouragement and innumerable drinks in the Corkscrew.
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PROFESSOR TAMAR - MR. SHEPHERD RANG AND SAID PLEASE COME TO LONDON AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
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Some of my readers, perhaps many, having expected to find in these pages diversion rather than instruction, will now hasten back to their booksellers to demand indignantly, it may be with threats of legal action, reimbursement of the sum so ill-advisedly expended. So be it: such readers will give me credit, I hope, for having enabled them by my prompt confession to return the volume unread and in almost pristine condition; and I for my part (for publisher and bookseller I cannot speak) would rather forgo the modest sum which would accrue to me from such a sale - very modest, meager might be a better word, one might almost say paltry - would infinitely rather forgo that sum rather than think it obtained by deception.
"If a bird's all set to come into five million quid," said Cantrip, "you don't need to meet her to know she's fantastically attractive."
There are days on which Julia does not open letters. She is overcome, as I understand it, by a sort of superstitious dread, in which she is persuaded that letters bode her no good: they will be from the Gas Board, and demand money; or from the Inland Revenue, and demand accounts; or from some much valued friend, and demand an answer. If a letter arrives on such a day as this, she does not open it but puts it carefully away, to be dealt with when she feels stronger. After that, I had always supposed, it is never seen again.
The words "Open up there, this is the police" tend to have a dampening effect on almost any social gathering.
"It's an extraordinary thing," said Julia, "how every solicitor who loses a piece of paper anywhere in the area of Greater London always claims that it's my fault. It seems to be an official policy of the Law Society."
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It seemed the perfect way to avoid three million in taxes on a five-million-pound estate: change the trust arrangement. Everyone in the family agreed to support the heiress, ravishing raven-haired Camilla Galloway, in her court petition -- except dreary Cousin Deirdre, who suddenly demanded a small fortune for her signature. Then Deirdre had a terrible accident. That was when the young London barristers handling the trust -- Cantrip, Selena, Timothy, Ragwort, and Julia -- summoned their Oxford friend Professor Hilary Tamar to Lincoln's Inn. Julia thinks it's murder. Hilary demurs. Why didn't the heiress die? But when the accidents escalate and they learn of the naked lunch at Uncle Rupert's, Hilary the Scholar embarks on the most perilous quest of all: the truth....

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