From Publishers Weekly
Reaching for too many laughs, MacLeod falls flat with the 12th entry in her Sarah Kelling and Max Bittersohn series (after Something in the Water). The title refers to Sarah's duties as unexpected executrix of the will of bossy Dolores Tawne, administrator of Boston's Wilkins Museum, who has been stabbed to death with an antique hairpin (a method, Sarah observes, written about by famed archeologist Amelia Peabody Emerson, Elizabeth Peters's series heroine). Among Dolores's effects is a safe deposit box she left unopened for 30 years. The box contains six antique stickpins and a photograph of the Wicked Widows, a group of seven masked street performers who, it turns out, are wanted for the murders of four Boston policemen some years ago. Relying on disguises and guesswork, Sarah triumphs in a final melodramatic scene. The meandering narrative, aimless chatter and absence of Sarah's husband, Max, who's in Argentina, sabotage this effort.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
The latest in MacLeod's series of Sarah and Max Kelling mysteries more than meets the standards of her earlier works, filled as ever with touches of comedy, eccentric characters, and mild suspense, all in a neatly depicted Bostonian setting. Left on her own, while her art-detective spouse Max Kelling is in Argentina on a job, Sarah holds down the office, nearly gets herself killed, secures child care for her son (whose nurse is ill), probates an estate, and solves the murder of the woman who named Sarah her executor. Sarah is impressively competent, but she is aided by her houseman/butler Charles and a local police detective, both of whom are wise to the adventures that beset the Kelling family. MacLeod's tendency to restate the case, via Sarah updating relatives and police professionals, results in some unnecessary repetitions, but readers who like to solve the mystery before novel's end may find these summations desirable. Denise Perry Donavin