The Gladstone Bag, the ninth book in the Sarah Kelling/ Max Bittersohn series by Charlotte MacLeod, focuses on Sarah’s indomitable and enjoyable Aunt Emma. Taking the place of a dying friend who every summer hosts a group of artists at her personal island in Maine, Emma meets a strange group of people, even for artists, and has a series of crazy adventures.
The best description comes from Emma’s own words to Sarah and Max over the telephone: “So far I’ve been drugged and had my fairy’s jewelry snatched on the ferry, got it back, and discovered I’d acquired something I don’t dare talk about, and been robbed again while I was asleep last night, which probably means I was also drugged again, though that detail hadn’t occurred to me until just this minute. The robber was dragged out of the sea this morning, dead either by accident or otherwise. Vincent, the caretaker, has him out in the stable now, waiting for the storm to let up, so his brother Lowell can come and take the body to his brother Franklin to be autopsied. Vincent’s already decided what Franklin’s report will be, though I don’t know whether he’s told Franklin yet. And the psychic is feeling poorly!”
So goes another adventure by this highly enjoyable writer, who creates fine mysteries but particularly specializes in the unique characters who fill her pages. When I first read this book and learned that Sarah and Max out in only minimal appearances over the telephone, I felt some disappointment, but I really came to appreciate Emma, whom we get to know in The Plain Old Man. Emma presents a strong female character in a very different style from the strong female character of Sarah Kelling Bittersohn. The Russian Count Alexei provides a hint of melodrama while trying to write a historical romance, at the same time that the other visitors to the island, who form of team intent on finding the pirate treasure supposedly buried there, vary in degrees of likeability. Bubbles, the cook, works as a registered nurse at a hospice during the year and thus needs his summers spent cooking on the island to cope with the depression from having his patients all die.
The book is narrated by Andi Arndt, who performs nine of the 12 books in this series and makes them a lot of fun to enjoy.
Despite my initial misgivings about The Gladstone Bag due to its change in cast, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The plot contains enough twists to be intriguing, and I really loved the characters, including the ones I loved to hate. I give this book five stars! The Gladstone Bag is out in multiple formats. To order from Amazon, click here. You may also find it in your local library or bookstore.