RogerBW's Blog

The Silver Ghost, Charlotte MacLeod 03 November 2018

1988 cozy American detective fiction; eighth of MacLeod's novels of Boston Brahmin Sarah Kelling and art investigator Max Bittersohn. Sarah and Max have been invited to a Renaissance Revel at the Billingsgates', to work out what's happened to their missing 1927 New Phantom Rolls Royce.

Yes, it's more New England high society with Comical Characters, though they mostly fade away rather once the murdering starts. As too often, the mystery blends enough into the background that the puzzle element becomes irrelevant; I'm carrying on with the series mostly because I enjoy the primary characters, and Max and Sarah do get to work together again, but this is the weakest entry yet. Motivations are fragmentary, and an obvious suspect becomes very obvious. A side plot dealing with local radio stations doesn't convince either.

"But we'd known him so long, and to have him killed by her own bees—Max, has it struck you there's a diabolical mind at work here?"

"I can't say it has, Bill. I'd call it more a practical mind, and damned little human feeling. The impression I get is that whoever's responsible for these killings doesn't care about anything but getting the job done with a minimum of risk and whatever weapon comes handiest."

You'll need to have read previous books to have any idea of who's who, and there are rather a lot of them to keep track of. And it hardly seems worth it.

It's competently written, but I can't recommend it unless you're a completist; it came out in the same year as The Recycled Citizen and feels hasty at times. Followed by The Gladstone Bag.

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