Sarah Kelling has been invited to a free concert that her boarder, the handsome art detective Max Bittersohn, has “gotten free tickets to attend” at Madame Wilkins’s Palazzo in Charlotte MacLeod’s The Palace Guard, the third book in the Sarah Kelling/ Max Bittersohn series. As the concert concludes, a guard falls to his death from the third story, putting Sarah and Max right in the middle of a new mystery, especially when Max hears that the guard recently has been complaining that his “girlfriend,” his favorite Titian painting of “The Rape of Lucrece,” is no longer the same girl he fell in love with. Upon further investigation, Max realizes that just about every painting in the museum is a fake!
This book shows the more light-hearted side of MacLeod’s writing, with plenty of silly hijinks by various characters in the book. Max takes Sarah on a secret reconnaissance mission, dressed fully in Indian garb, including a sari that Sarah struggles to keep attached, in order to observe the museum’s president give Sarah’s boarder Mrs. Sorpende a tour of the museum. The couple go undercover amid a bunch of doped up, spaced out hippies who think they are artists. The so-called Countess Lydia Ospenska shows Sarah how she uses her authentic byzantine icons as the models for the fake icons she makes in order to eat. And we meet Sarah’s Cousin Brooks, a bird-watching fanatic who courts Mrs. Sorpende using the methods of his favorite types of birds.
The Palace Guard lets us visit with many of our old friends, including the boarders at Sarah’s boarding house and her loony family who are so snobbish that they can afford not to care what anyone else rinks about them, and shows the development of the growing relationship between Sarah and Max, despite Sarah’s occasional qualms about entering into a relationship so soon after the death of her first husband.
Andi Arndt performs the narration of this fun book and is a pleasure to listen to. Fortunately you can get this audio version from Audible or on an MP3 CD.
With its great characters, in addition to its fun plot, this book deserves the full five stars I give it!
The Palace Guard is available now. To order from Amazon, click the link in the title. You may also be able to find it at your local bookstore or library.