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The Family Vault (Kelling & Bittersohn, #1)
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The Family Vault (Kelling & Bittersohn #1)

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  876 ratings  ·  58 reviews
Sarah Kelling calls in art historian Max Bittersohn when the family finds the skeleton of a burlesque queen who vanished over thirty years ago in their Beacon Hill family vault, opened for great-uncle Frederick. The complex murder plot stretches into the past of Boston and marks Sarah as another victim.
Paperback, 368 pages
Published January 2nd 2002 by iBooks (first published 1979)
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1979, #1 Sarah Kelling/Max Bittersohn, Beacon Hill, Boston; genteel cosy, still wonderful despite age. High jinks (and murder) in High Society, but with a very dark edge

Mrs. Sarah Kelling has lived a very privileged life in the highest social circles of Boston, living on Beacon Hill and having a very extended - and locally famous (or infamous, but more on that later...) family. While she hasn't been pampered much, she has been sheltered from much of the daily grind most folks know, and lived in
Otto Penzler
The Family Vault is the first book in the Sarah Kelling and Max Bittersohn mystery series and, like the others, is a splendid screwball “whodunit” that readers of cozies will love. Often called “America’s Agatha Christie,” MacLeod wrote charming and humorous mysteries, and this particular series is one of the best. The Family Vault introduces the eccentric northeastern Kelling clan. Sarah Kelling’s great-uncle wishes to be buried in the family’s vault – but upon inspecting the tomb to prepare fo ...more
Charlotte MacLeod is one of my all time favorite authors and The Family Vault is the first in the Sarah Kelling series. It is set in Boston with an odd selection of relatives and friends who showcase Sarah to fine advantage. While making arrangements to bury a family member Sarah finds a corpse in the family vault that doesn't belong there. We follow the unraveling of an old murder while peering into a lifestyle not often seen now.
I determinedly collect Charlotte MacLeod’s works. “The Family Vault” débuts a grand series. Memorable people and plots are indubitably her gifts. Sarah Kelling’s family is unusual, lacing the inaugural volume with flair. As they look into burying cousin Dolph’s guardian, we learn the Kellings enjoy funerals in droves. Frederick decreed interment in a disused family crypt. Charlotte’s writing grips us -always- with crispness and humour at once. “Nobody had so chosen for the past 146 years but Gre ...more
I bought this ebook a while ago, but just now got to reading it. I wish I had read it earlier. Charlotte McLeod is an excellent writer with a sense of humor and a gift for creating very likable characters. I couldn't even hate the bad guys (the few there were). This is definitely a "cozy" mystery. Oh, and I didn't figure out who did it (entirely), which was nice.

The story opens with Sarah Keeling waiting in a Boston cemetery for the opening of her family's tomb.

"Great-uncle Frederick had vowed
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This is the second time I've read this book and I enjoyed every minute of it. Sarah Kelling, a younger member of one of Boston's elite families, marries her much older cousin after both her parents are killed. She has loved Alexander for many years, ever since she was a little girl. But, most of the family still treats her as the "little girl" they've known all along. Even her husband, Alexander. But, most of Alexander's time is spent caring for his blind and deaf mother.

When the body of a local
Lis Carey
This is the first of the very popular Sarah & Max mysteries, featuring Sarah Kelling and her wonderfully mad old New England family. Having married her cousin and become a fairly young widow, Sarah finds herself dealing with a series of unexpected and increasingly distressing problems. These include the discovery of the corpse of a long-missing exotic dancer, Ruby Redd, in the family vault where her late husband wished to be buried.

It turns out that's the least of her troubles. Art fraud, bl
Susan Ferguson
Love Charlotte MacLeod's books.
This is the first in the Sarah Kelling and Max Bittersohn series.....
At the beginning of the book, Sarah is a lot, weary girl married to her second cousin Alexander whom she adores. Alex is about 20 years older than she is. The whole family seems to turn to Alexander when there is a problem and he is constantly dancing attendance on his mother who has become deaf and blind. She is still very involved with committees, etc. and expect Alex to wait on her pleasure for
The Kelling family of Boston, like all old-money New England families, has a spacious and well-maintained family vault for the burial of their dead. But Great-Uncle Frederick has a stipulation in his will that his remains be placed in the old family vault at Boston Common. Problem one: the old vault hasn't received a body in over a hundred years and there is concern that the lock won't work after all of this time. Problem two: The lock worked fine, but then a fairly recently built brick wall is ...more
Charlotte MacLeod is the queen of the charming cozy. I want to have all her characters as my friends. I want to be a part of this charming world. Here is the set up mystery for Sara Kelling and all the characters you will love start wandering in from the cold cruel world. I think Ms. MacLeod is a writer under appreciated in this world of cold killings and terrible violence. It's not the mystery that will hook you, it's the joy of finding folks you'd like to know.
May 21, 2013 Pat rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: mystery
with a well written and strong first chapter, MacLeod lured me into the novel. However, her characters were all one dimensional and unlikeable. I lost sympathy with the heroine who as narrator was given the role of describing them. She did so with such biting sarcasm, that I lost any sympathy I should have had for her and began lumping her into this disgusting familial mileu she introduced as being incestuous in order to hoard family money.

The introduction of her protagonist Max Bittersohn in t
Niki Beecher
What a horrible book! Can we give minus stars? I enjoy the MacLeod series with Peter Shandy, love her sense of humor, so tried this series. It was a terrific shock. The protagonist is surrounded by horrible people who use and abuse her, the entire situation is totally unbelievable; I gave up before I was half-way through.
This was the first book in the series, one that I finally found. I love this series and it's a shame that there really wasn't an ending book before Charlotte MacLeod passed on. Sarah Kelling married her husband right after her father's death when she was 17 or 18 and this is 6 years after the fact. They find a body in the family vault, which they are opening up to entomb Great-Uncle Frederick as per his last wish, and an onlooker realizes who it is... a woman who disappeared 20 years before. Who ...more
The plot is fine, but the people act in the silliest ways. "Gee, there's a murderer loose and someone keeps breaking in. I think I'll send everyone home and take a little nap!"
this is my favortie of this series. It is so bizarre. I remember reading as Sarah becomes more aware and not so oppressed that begins with the brickwork around the vault. The mother-in-law is so extremely bad and obsessed with her little lover. And the first husband, what a whimp. One of the things I like about this author is the whole extended family in Boston thing that she uses, they are so eccentric. And Sarah surviving this truly sick situation and finally waking up to what is going on. The ...more
Linda Cole

Great old fashioned tale of blackmail, murder and passion. Sarah is an admirable heroine and max is a good shining knight to save the day
Just the right amount of twists and turns to make it thrilling instead of boring. Will be listening to more of this series!
This is an old favorite of mine. A good cozy mystery. Sarah's character grows by leaps and bounds in this book which is the first in the series.
It was a good mystery, though I don't know why some many people say it's hilarious. I don't think I laughed once. Unfortunate, since that's why I bought it.
Fun mysteries I read years ago, and re-read while recovering from illness recently. This is the first in a series.
Not a huge fan of amateurs solving mysteries. This was fun though and fine if light read with the bodies piling up in fine Christie fashion.
Carissa Hanson
Cozy little mystery indeed. Sarah Kelling is a great character--I really like her moxie.
It has been so long since I first read this book that I had forgotten how good it is. Horrible, but good. The reader's heart is wrung by Sarah Kelling's misfortunes, which she faces one after another with fortitude. Young as she is, dependent as she has been for most of her life, when she begins to assert herself, you feel like cheering. The ending leaves you with a hint of hope but with no clear understanding of what will become of her, unusual in this genre. If you can stop here and not go on ...more
The intro says it all:
If you bought this book because your first copy has fallen to pieces with so many rereadings, welcome to the club. If you borrowed it from your local library because you enjoyed it immensely when you first read it years ago and you want to see if the story holds up, believe me: it does. If you acquired it to finish out your collection of Kelling novels, then you already know some of the surprises Charlotte MacLeod devised for you. But if this is your very first meeting with
Liked this well-written book very much...Sarah Kelling is a young wife, part of a large clan of "Boston Brahmins" who are "old money" and live on Beacon Hill. She lives a frugal life with her handsome, much older husband and his mother. Upon discovering that the opening to the family vault had mysteriously been bricked up, Sarah is caught in a spiral of intrigue and danger that changes her life profoundly. Second book in the series, here I come.
I liked this book, set in Boston, even though it screamed COZY! I read about author Charlotte Macleod and apparently she used to wear hats and white gloves. I liked the main character Sarah Kelling very much, so will continue to read the series, even though I quickly figured out whodunnit, and even though Macleod left Sarah's personal life in shambles at the end of the book. She must've planned a series from the start.
I originally read this series in the 80's. It's nice to see that the writing is as good as I remember and the story holds up very well. This first book introduces several members of Sarah's extended family. Sarah discovers a body in the family burial vault and it opens up a huge mystery from the past. I'm looking forward to continuing my re-read of the series.
Sarah Kelling meets detective Max Bittersohn, specialist in jewel theft and society con men, in a very believable story concept.
Ruby Redd's remains are found in the Kelling's family vault that is part of Boston's registered historical listings. This begins a cascade of events that culminate in Sarah losing family and fortune though discovering her own strengths.
L Greyfort
Superb. Just one of the best pieces of fiction writing you might have the luck to stumble upon. As a long-time mystery addict, I find this one superior for the amazing balance of elements: an excellent puzzle to solve, very fine character building, the mixture of truly human feeling, including geniune empathy, and character- and situation-based humor.
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Naturalized US Citizen

Also wrote as Alisa Craig

Charlotte MacLeod, born in New Brunswick, Canada, and a naturalized U.S. citizen, was the multi-award-winning author of over thirty acclaimed novels. Her series featuring detective Professor Peter Shandy, America's homegrown Hercule Poirot, delivers "generous dollops of...warmth, wit, and whimsy" (San Francisco Sunday Examiner and Chronicle). But full
More about Charlotte MacLeod...

Other Books in the Series

Kelling & Bittersohn (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • The Withdrawing Room (Kelling & Bittersohn, #2)
  • The Palace Guard (Kelling & Bittersohn, #3)
  • The Bilbao Looking Glass (Kelling & Bittersohn, #4)
  • The Convivial Codfish (Kelling & Bittersohn, #5)
  • The Plain Old Man (Kelling & Bittersohn, #6)
  • The Recycled Citizen (Kelling & Bittersohn, #7)
  • The Silver Ghost (Kelling & Bittersohn, #8)
  • The Gladstone Bag (Kelling & Bittersohn, #9)
  • The Resurrection Man (Kelling & Bittersohn, #10)
  • The Odd Job (Kelling & Bittersohn, #11)

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