The Silver Ghost

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

In order to keep the theft of their antique Rolls Royce quiet, the Billingsgates have invited Sarah and Max Bittersohn to their annual Renaissance Festival in order to examine discreetly the guests for suspects. Sarah is related to half the guests and her presence will neither prove awkward nor embarrassing. While the revels are in progress, however, a longtime family retainer is murdered and a second Rolls Royce is stolen from the family’s collection. The disappearance of an aged aunt and the fact that almost everyone capable of committing the crime is either related to or a close friend of the Billingsgates complicates the investigation. Sarah, however, draws on the vast network of her relatives and on her understanding of their eccentric habits in order to accumulate clues. Max, a professional detective, uses his expertise to fill in the background and provide a wider context for their investigation.

Although the conclusion of this novel is somewhat unsatisfactory, the getting there is almost delightful. Charlotte MacLeod writes with wit and verve and a cunning understanding of how extended families operate. In THE SILVER GHOST, the family contains an entertaining and charming set of eccentrics whose very oddness provides a context for the novel. Max and Sarah and their new baby Davey prove to be charming as well as competent sleuths, and they help to provide the novel with its wonderful domestic coziness.

This is Charlotte MacLeod’s fourteenth Sarah Kelling mystery, and the books just keep getting better. By now, MacLeod’s loyal readers are as interested in the vicissitudes of Sarah’s life as much as the various adventures which have called upon her abilities. Despite the breathless ending and occasional overwriting, the book moves along at a good clip and delivers an amusing read.