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FAMILY ALBUM by Susan Oleksiw

FAMILY ALBUM

By Susan Oleksiw

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-684-19731-6
Publisher: Scribner

 A tough week for the Arbella Historical Society of Mellingham, Mass.: First, staid donor/volunteer George Frome sets the board on its ear by disrupting its regular meeting with the news that several of the Society's canvases have been checked out, presumably taken by an insider--somebody in the room with him, he's too polite to add--and then George himself checks out courtesy of a lethal dose of the vegetable poison aconitine, which somebody, again an intimate, has sneaked onto his salad fixings. The crime is followed by innumerable conversations among surviving board members-- faceless president Walter Marsh, treasurer Bill Huntley, hardworking secretary Marian Davis, longtime donor Catherine Rocklynd, her nephew Edwin Bennett, art dealer Kelly Kuhn, collector Annalee Windolow--some attended, some not, by Mellingham police chief Joe Silva (Double Take, 1994); the uncovering of the obligatory secrets (including two different family skeletons that look as much alike as, well, two skeletons); and the final well- bred accusation. Not for the overstimulated: Oleksiw has nothing like Agatha Christie's sense of pace or finesse with clues, and most of her pale patricians could stand all day in the boiling New England sunshine without casting a shadow. Yet Oleksiw, who's clearly growing as a novelist, makes you feel how much she loves these well-meaning, tiresomely virtuous folks and their cosseted life, and doggone it if you don't find yourself warming to them too.