Great-Uncle Jeremy (Jem) Kelling has finally reached the enviable position of The Exalted Chowderhead of the Comrades of the Convivial Codfish, a social group of only the highest crust of Beacon Hill society in The Convivial Codfish, the fifth book in Charlotte MacLeod’s Sarah Kelling/ Max Bittersohn series. At the annual Christmas celebration, which consists of everyone’s eating chowder and drinking copious quantities of liquor while yelling “BAH! Humbug!” to everything, Jem suddenly discovers that the great chain of the codfish, worn by him as the Exalted Chowderhead, is missing! Since it can be removed only by being lifted over his head, Jem cannot figure out how this may have happened.
The loss of the solid silver chain with a giant codfish on it soon gets eclipsed, however, when Uncle Jem falls down the stairs and breaks his hip. Max, Sarah’s new detective husband, discovers that Jem’s fall is the result of someone’s contrivance, and the only possible explanation Max can find for this crime is to keep Jem away from the party held for the Codfishcrowd the next day. Taking Jem’s place at the party on a private train, Max finds the body of the murdered train conductor just before everyone else at the party gets horribly sick from poisoned caviar.
So how did the caviar get poisoned? Who was the mysterious wine steward who served the caviar and then disappeared? Why was this man wearing the chain of the Exalted Chowderhead with a cork screw in place of the codfish? And how would Jeremy Kelling have been enough of a threat to the murderer for him to have to be put out of commission?
The Convivial Codfish was the first Charlotte MacLeod book that I ever read, with the creative title catching my attention, and I loved the book enough to invest in purchasing the rest of the series, first on cassette and later from Audible. This book is full of humor and fun. Although Uncle Jem has appeared in previous books in the series, he gets fleshed out much more thoroughly in this book, as a lazy plump man who loves his gin and practical jokes and has a faultless memory for any face.
Sarah Peiffer narrates this book well, better in my opinion than Andi Arndt, who narrates the other books in the series. Disappointingly, the audio version is available only on cassette and not CD or MP3.
I thoroughly enjoyed this delightful book and give it five stars!
The Convivial Codfish is available now in multiple formats. click here to order from Amazon or check your local bookstore or library.