The Balloon Man

Charlotte MacLeod, Author Mysterious Press $22.5 (280p) ISBN 978-0-89296-657-8
In this spritely addition (after Odd Job) to a spirited series, MacLeod, who also writes the Peter Shandy novels (Exit the Milkman), has Sarah Kelling attempt to orchestrate an elegant wedding on Boston's North Shore for the nephew of her husband, art detective Max Bittersohn. Anyone planning a wedding should expect problems, but Sarah gets more than her fair share. Max is perplexed when the Kellings' fabulous rubies, last spotted in Amsterdam, suddenly appear among the wedding gifts. As he searches the room to find clues regarding their unorthodox reappearance, he stumbles across a verbose, mendacious burglar who serves him a brutal whack across the legs and then escapes. Shortly thereafter, a hot-air balloon crash lands in the middle of the wedding tent, and the Zickerys, long-lost neighbors of the Kellings, stumble out. The next day, after being incapacitated by a smoke bomb, Max is stunned to learn that a dead body has been found under the remains of the tent. Amid the screwball chaos, Max and Sarah, hampered by their three-year-old son Davy (""the world's most intelligent child""), try to discover who the dead man was, how his body came to be on their property and whether he has anything to do with the rubies, the thief or the smoke bomb. When Davy goes missing and then Max is abducted, level-headed Sarah must stave off her zany Kelling relatives to get her loved ones back. In this delightful mystery, Max and Sarah make a strong claim to being the Nick and Nora Charles of the 1990s, urbane, witty and thoroughly appealing. Mystery Guild main selection. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 11/30/1998
Release date: 12/01/1998
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