Photo by Robert Taylor
Random House Publishing Group has reissued two professor Hilary Tamar novels, Thus Was Adonis Murdered and The Shortest Way to Hades, by Sarah Cauldwell (1939–2000), the pen name of English barrister Sarah Cockburn.
Set in London and narrated by the good professor, each legal whodunit centers on Michael Cantrip, Desmond Ragwort, Selena Jardine, and Timothy Shepherd, a group of junior barristers at the Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn in London, and their puzzling, clever, and entertaining cases.
“Hilary’s voice was in my head before any of the plots,” Caudwell told writer Martin Edwards in an interview for Mystery Scene Magazine. “I knew from the outset Hilary must be an Oxford don—but of equivocal sex and even equivocal age, resembling that precise, donnish kind of individual who starts being elderly at the age of 22.”
Caudwell made a point in her novels, of making her narrator's gender a non-point. "A protagonist ahead of their time," says the publisher, "Caudwell believed that [gender] was besides the point of the investigation."
Read Edwards' feature "A Most Ingenious Legal Mind: Sarah Caudwell" for more on this groundbreaking, pipe-smoking, subversive author.