THE BALLOON MAN by Charlotte MacLeod


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Another excursion into fantasyland with Sarah Kelling, of the old-line Boston Kellings, and her Jewish husband Max Bittersohn, head of a detective agency specializing in art recovery (The Odd Job, 1995, etc.). This time, the two have volunteered their spacious house in Iverson’s Landing for the wedding of Max’s nephew Mike to Tracy, daughter of pickle king Warty Pilcher. A tent has been erected, and the wedding gifts are on display in the library. It’s there that Max spots the ruby-and-gold necklace (minus gift card)that was meant to be Sarah’s but that went missing in the wake of the deaths of Sarah’s first husband Alexander and his tyrannical mother Caroline. A second visit to the library surprises Louis Maltravers, master locksmith, who makes a deft getaway. There’s no getaway the next day, though, for the murdered corpse found under the tent soon after a hot-air balloon lands on top of it—the balloon’s occupants two very peculiar neighbors, the twins Alistir and Calpurnia Zichery. There’s more, a lot more, including another killing and Max’s disappearance and improbable rescue, before all the answers are forthcoming. Until then the reader must endure lengthy descriptions of the oh-so-cute doings of Max and Sarah’s three-year-old son Davy; much dialogue (rarely clever) with Sarah’s gin- swilling Uncle Jem Kelling and his valet Egber; and endless details of meals eaten in the Kelling-Bittersohn household. Faithful fans may be enchanted; others may find a rambling wreck.

Pub Date: Dec. 7th, 1998
ISBN: 0-89296-657-2
Page count: 240pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1998


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