THE GLADSTONE BAG by Charlotte MacLeod


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Private investigators Max and Sarah Bittersohn (The Silver Ghost, etc.) are on the periphery of the author's latest, as Sarah's rich, blue-blooded aunt Emma Kelling takes center stage, willingly pressed into service as hostess for the annual summer migration of a group of needy artists and writers to Maine's tiny Pocapuk Island. This longstanding summer ritual is usually overseen by the island's widowed owner, Adelaide Sabine--now old, sick, and forbidden by her doctors to participate. Emma meets most of the group on the ferry trip, and a motley bunch they are--pompous, demanding, discredited historian Everard Wont; his girlfriend and inept painter Lisbet Quainley; illustrator Joris Groot, a specialist in shoes; suave Count Alexei Radunov; would-be mystery-writer Black John Sendick; and seeress Alding Fath, who's supposed to guide Wont to an endlessly rumored buried treasure on the island (about which he plans to write a chronicle). And the island will have its own cast of characters--among others, super-efficient Vincent, the caretaker and more; his son Neil; daughter Sandy; her friend Bernice; and Bubbles, the lisping cook who's also a geriatric nurse. The discovery of drowned ex-con Jimmy Sorpende within hours of the visitors' arrival starts a round of puzzling events invOlving stolen diamonds; a secret safe; unburied treasure; hidden pasts; ransacked rooms; and numerous head-bashings. Emma's hastily summoned cousin Theonia--as well as many phone calls to the Bittersohns--helps our intrepid heroine to decipher a scenario the reader has probably given up on. Still, MacLeod's new story is entertaining--garrulous and frantic but only minimally arch: a boon for her fans; fun reading for most.

Pub Date: Feb. 12th, 1989
Publisher: Mysterious Press--dist. by Ballantine