Thursday, July 26, 2018

Appreciation …

… Sarah Caudwell. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Of the six key characters who recur in Caudwell’s novels, five are barristers practising in Lincoln’s Inn. Scatty and sexy Julia Larwood is a member of the small set of Revenue Chambers in 63 New Square; her friends Timothy Shepherd, Desmond Ragwort, Michael Cantrip and Selena Jardine, are to be found next door at Number 62. The final member of this unusual band of partners in crime is Professor Hilary Tamar, tutor in Legal History at St George’s College, Oxford, whose ‘interest in the principles of English law wanes with the Middle Ages.’ Hilary is, in part, narrator of the stories, and the extraordinarily elaborate, mannered style with which the tales are told is an important part of their charm for many readers. One hardly expects a modern crime novel to begin: ‘Cost candour what it may, I will not deceive my readers.’ But that is the opening sentence of The Shortest Way To Hades, and it captures accurately the Tamar voice.

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