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The Family Vault (Sarah Kelling and Max Bittersohn Mysteries) [Mass Market Paperback]

4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grim, dynamic, and shrewd. June 24 2014
By Carolyn TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I determinedly collect <b>Charlotte MacLeod’s</b> works. “<b>The Family Vault</b>” débuts a grand series. Memorable people and plots are indubitably her gifts. <i>Sarah Kelling’s</i> family is unusual, lacing the inaugural volume with flair. As they look into burying cousin <i>Dolph’s</i> guardian, we learn the <i>Kellings</i> enjoy funerals in droves. <i>Frederick</i> decreed interment in a disused family crypt. <b>Charlotte’s</b> writing grips us -always- with crispness and humour at once. <i>“Nobody had so chosen for the past 146 years but Great-Uncle Frederick could safely be counted on to make a pest of himself to the last”.</i>

Horrifyingly, a missing dancer was within. <i>Sarah</i>, a sketch artist, married a distant cousin <i>Alexander</i>, when he was 40 and she 18. He grew strange the moment she described what she and <i>Dolph</i> found. One can’t describe very many back stories without spoiling large events that reach a climax along the way. This novel doesn’t hesitate to shock readers and shift comfort zones into which we thought we might settle. Two other important characters are <i>Max Bittersohn</i>, a private investigator specializing in art and <i>Caroline</i>; the Mother-in-law whom <i>Sarah</i> continued calling ‘Aunt’. Her history is formidable: a once competitive swimmer losing her hearing and <i>Alexander’s</i> Father in a squall. Her vision failed later. Rather than be a deaf and blind invalid, <i>Sarah, Alexander,</i> and a close friend learned to communicate with her and hauled her on errands. They would breath more freely if not at her back and call but everyone pandered to the consequences of her sacrifice.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read! Jan. 14 2003
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
As a avid mystery reader I found this book to be very exciting. I couldn't put the book down! It was never really dull or boring and had a very ingenius plot. Out of all the Charolette MacLeod books I have read, I found this one to be the best. It starts off when the Kellings go to bury an uncle only to discover that someone had already been buried in the family vault. It was fun to read and was very thrilling at times.
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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  49 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Family Vault Jan. 9 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The Family Vault is the first in MacLeod's Sarah Kelling/Max Bittersohn mystery series, in which we are introduced to Sarah and her convoluted family. The book begins as the heroine prepares the family vault mentioned in the title prior to her uncle's funeral only to find it already occupied by the skeleton of a showgirl, Ruby Redd. All is made (mostly) clear by the end of the book, leaving plenty of hooks for subsequent mysteries. "The Family Vault" is a bit stiff compared to her later books, but a fun fast read nevertheless.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Family Vault Nov. 3 2012
By S Riaz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
Charlotte MacLeod (1922-2005) was a prolific and successful mystery writer, so it is great to see some of her work released on kindle. She was the author of two major series under her own name - Professor Peter Shandy (known as the 'American Hercule Poirot', first book in series Rest You Merry (Professor Peter Shandy)) and that featuring Sarah Kelling and Max Bittersohn. She also wrote several stand alone novels as well as two cozy series set in Canada, her birthplace, under the pseudonym Alisa Craig.

Set in Boston, The Family Vault, introduces the character of Sarah Kelling and Max Bittersohn. Sarah comes from an old Boston family and lives in a huge old house with her much older husband Alexander, also a cousin, and his deaf and blind mother Caroline. Caroline is difficult and dominating and the old family retainer, Edith, frankly rude and disagreeable. Sarah feels she lives more as a child than a wife, with no control of her own money and a life which revolves around Caroline and her friend Leila, who is married to Alexander's friend Harry. When we meet Sarah she is doing one of the many family jobs - supervising the opening of an old family vault, long closed up, which a Great-Uncle wanted to be buried in. However, on opening the vault, a body is found in there - recognised by a bystander as a local exotic dancer, Ruby Redd, who vanished years ago.

Shocked by what she has found, Sarah begins to investigate what happened to Ruby so long ago. She is a resourceful and likeable heroine and when she is introduced to Max Bittersohn, a writer who wants to enlist her to do some artwork for him, she finds she begins to rely on his help. When long held family secrets are uncovered, Sarah finds herself in a great deal of danger and there is nobody else she can trust. In a way, this is very much an introductory novel, where we meet the characters and the stage is set for further books. There are quite a few in the series:

The Family Vault (1979)
The Withdrawing Room (1980)
The Palace Guard (1981)
The Bilbao Looking Glass (1983)
The Convivial Codfish (1984)
The Plain Old Man (1985)
The Recycled Citizen (1987)
The Silver Ghost (1987)
The Gladstone Bag (1989)
The Resurrection Man (1992)
The Odd Job (1995)
The Balloon Man (1998)

Sadly, I see that the second book, The Withdrawing Room, is not yet published on kindle. Hopefully, the publishers will release them all, as this is a great series and it is always nice to read the books in order. If you have never read this series before, then I hope you enjoy it. It will appeal to anyone who enjoys cozy mysteries and possibly authors such as Carolyn G. Hart or Katherine Hall Page.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A step above the rest May 15 2008
By Nash Black - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The late Charlotte MacLeod taught the rest of the mystery community how to write humor with straight characters. The Kelling clan will keep you glued to your seat as we find Sarah Kelling, for the first time, trying her best to weave her way through intricate puzzles, while preserving her place within the family circle.
MacLeod was a master of plot with few dull moments and her pace never lags. Sarah loses her husband and finds her mate, but those are other books in this fun-filled series.
Grab them up when you can and keep them close by for a good fix for what ails you. A word master at her very best.
Nash Black, author of Writing as a Small Business and Sins of the Fathers.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Eccentricities and suspense Oct. 3 2004
By Amy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is a well-weaved, humorous mystery about the bad things that occur to the quirky Kelling clan, their friends and associates. I was crestfallen about the turn of events half-way through the book, but can't say why for fear of revealing too much of the story. Nonetheless, it was very fun to read, with many suspenseful moments. I especially enjoyed all the eccentricities of the characters in the book, in addition to the Boston setting.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Painfully slow until an exciting ending June 11 2013
By Jay L - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I chose this book because of the positive ratings on Amazon and yet was not all that happy with it. Let me start by saying that I spend lots of time in Boston and so the idea of a book based there was appealing. However, the book was painfully slow to get going and I had to force myself to keep reading at numerous times. It was really frustrating and testament to sheer perseverance that I continued. I also felt that the entire family dynamic that was setup was extremely bizarre and was hard to believe.

Things finally got interesting near the end where there were some interesting plot twists and revelations that really had my interest. Unfortunately, in my view, it took too long to get to the exciting and engaging content.
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