The Sarah Kelling and Max Bittersohn mysteries are very funny and clever. The setting is Boston and its environs. Sarah owns a boarding house which was all that kept this young widow from starving until she met Max. Sarah is "old Bostonian" and Max is a sharp international stolen art sleuth and recoverer. Sarah's relatives are mostly quite dotty (maybe too many generations of Boston in-breeding?) and are always pulling Max into their problems. Charlotte MacLeod writes the funniest mysteries and this one is no exception.
Max investigates murder and attempted murder connected with Uncle Jem's social club, the Convivial Codfish. Most of the books in this series seem to concentrate on Sarah, but this is Max's turn to shine. The Usual MacLeod wit and Kelling clan weirdness are very much in evidence here.
From back of book:
Art investigator Max Bittersohn took pretty Bostonian Sara Kelling as his wife and got her wacky relatives a for-better-or-worse bonus. He also found himself wedded to Sarah's penchant for sleuthing. Her latest leap into loony larceny began with geriatric gadfly Uncle Jem becoming Exalted Chowderhead of the Comrades of the Convivial Codfish--a very exlusive men's club for very rich practical jokers.
But there was nothing funny about the theft of the valuable Great Chain of the Convivial Cod from around Uncle Jem's neck or the near-fatal "accident" that put him in the hospital. So Sarah's prodding put Max on the case and aboard a posh private train where a Convivial Cod member was throwing a fabulous fete--a party with a Gay Nineties motif, magnums of champagne, mounds of caviar, and a mysterious plot for mass mayhem and murder.
This was a great afternoon's recreational read. It is a mystery with good character development and creative writing that produced some witty circumstances and settings.
Here is number five in the Sarah Kelling seies. This one could be called "Murder on the Occidental Express" as Comrades of the Conivial Codfish Order hop aboard a private train for a lively party... and sudden death...who engineered this madness of champagne, cavier and cold-blooded murder??? Mystery Guild picked this book as a dual main selection for it's members. Do you dare come along for the ride or not???