Charlotte MacLeod had quite a career as an author. She wrote two mystery series under her own name and two series as Alisa Craig. There are also stand alone mysteries and a biography of mystery grande dame Mary Roberts Rinehart.
I must say, however, that I was disappointed in The Family Vault, my introduction to Ms. MacLeod. This book is the first in a series with Sarah Kelling Kelling and art investigator Max Bittersohn. The action takes place in Boston in the upper-crust society of Beacon Hill.
Young Sarah Kelling is married to her much older cousin Alexander Kelling - hence the Kelling Kelling - and they live in faded elegance with Alexander's mother who, due to a swimming accident, is now blind and deaf. Despite the fact of the age difference (in itself cringe-worthy), Sarah does love Alexander. Her controlling mother-in-law, not so much.
The story opens in a cemetery with the discovery of the body of a murdered woman in the Kelling family vault. The investigation into that death leads Sarah to discover many more murders past and present.
The reader is introduced to a profusion of eccentric family members (that I couldn't keep straight) and family friends who were not all that friendly. Finally, about half way through the story, the momentum picked up and eventually things don't end too badly for Sarah.
Reviews online for the mystery (published in 1980) run from great to terrific, but I honestly can't see what all the hoopla is about. Perhaps as the series goes on - there are eleven more books - the people and plots smooth out. I found the inbred family atmosphere stifling and oppressive and was happy to see that Sarah does grow more gutsy as the tale progresses.
Of course, some of you may have had a different experience with Ms. MacLeod's books and I would be happy to hear from you. Perhaps this wasn't the best introduction to her, but for me this tale should have been titled The Family Fault.
I've read two of her books, one as MacLeod and one as Alisa Craig. I don't remember anything about either of them. When I see them on the cheap e-books e-mails I get, I don't feel compelled to buy them. I must have some memory that I didn't enjoy them, so you're not alone.ReplyDelete
Hi, Joan. Yes, I get cheap ebook emails, too. If something strikes my fancy I will look to see if my library has it. In this case, the library has all twelve of this series in ebook form. I was excited to find a new series, hence the disappointment in the first one. I do sometimes bite the bullet and purchase one for a dollar or two (after checking reviews on Amazon!). In this case, one could tell a book by its cover - very unappealing.Delete
Now and then we come across a dud. Sometimes I'll read the second in the series and sometimes I won't--I already have FAR too many books on the TBR list, so I won't feel compelled to add this one ;).ReplyDelete
Well, Kathy, I like to report on the gems as well as the clunkers. As you know, I am always on the lookout for entertaining and captivating mysteries. Unfortunately, this wasn't one. :(Delete
Remember this series with great fondness, Mom and I read them all. Perhaps you have to be a Bostonian and know that there's a codfish on the wall in the State House to appreciate all things. Remember that Mrs Jack's palace (the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum to you) played quite a role.ReplyDelete
Thanks for your comments, GSGE. You may have a point about being from Boston. That always adds to the experience - to be familiar with a city in a story.Delete
One of my problems with the book was that I couldn't figure out its time frame. It 'read' - maybe the Thirties or Forties? - but then the Boston Strangler was mentioned and that happened in the Sixties.
It was the first in the series which can either send the reader off for more or just off! Perhaps I should give the second one a try.