The Plain Old Man - Charlotte MacLeod - ebook
Opis

A thief targets an amateur theatrical group, and murder follows in his wake. Producing a Gilbert & Sullivan opera requires a special kind of madness, and the Kelling family is large enough and peculiar enough to undertake an entire company by themselves. For years now, Sarah Kelling's Aunt Emma has supervised these annual productions-from The Pirates of Penzance to The Mikado - and this year she has invited her cast of relatives to rehearse The Sorcerer in her stately mansion. The show is nearly ready when a team of burglars drugs the cast and crew to make off with a priceless portrait. Theft or no theft, Aunt Emma insists the show must go on. Even when one of the cast dies suddenly, she finds a replacement and continues rehearsal. But when Sarah begins to suspect the actor was murdered, it becomes clear that dear Aunt Emma may be in danger of taking her final bow. Review Quotes. "If this is your first meeting with Sarah Kelling, oh how I envy you!" - Margaret Maron, author of The Buzzard Table. "Charlotte MacLeod does what she does better than anybody else does it; and what she does is in the top rank of modern mystery fiction." - Elizabeth Peters, creator of the Amelia Peabody series. "Charm, wit, and Holmesian logic." - Audiofile. Biographical note. Charlotte MacLeod (1922-2005) was an internationally bestselling author of cozy mysteries. Born in Canada, she moved to Boston as a child, and lived in New England most of her life. After graduating from college, she made a career in advertising, writing copy for the Stop & Shop Supermarket Company before moving on to Boston firm N. H. Miller & Co., where she rose to the rank of vice president. In her spare time, MacLeod wrote short stories, and in 1964 published her first novel, a children's book called "Mystery of the White Knight." In "Rest You Merry" (1978), MacLeod introduced Professor Peter Shandy, a horticulturist and amateur sleuth whose adventures she would chronicle for two decades. "The Family Vault" (1979) marked the first appearance of her other best-known characters: the husband and wife sleuthing team Sarah Kelling and Max Bittersohn, whom she followed until her last novel, "The Balloon Man," in 1998.

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Contents

Cover

About the Book

About the Author

Title Page

Copyright Page

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Looking for more suspense?

Cover

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About the Book

A thief targets an amateur theatrical group, and murder follows in his wake.

Producing a Gilbert & Sullivan opera requires a special kind of madness, and the Kelling family is large enough and peculiar enough to undertake an entire company by themselves. For years now, Sarah Kelling’s Aunt Emma has supervised these annual productions—from The Pirates of Penzance to The Mikado - and this year she has invited her cast of relatives to rehearse The Sorcerer in her stately mansion. The show is nearly ready when a team of burglars drugs the cast and crew to make off with a priceless portrait.

Theft or no theft, Aunt Emma insists the show must go on. Even when one of the cast dies suddenly, she finds a replacement and continues rehearsal. But when Sarah begins to suspect the actor was murdered, it becomes clear that dear Aunt Emma may be in danger of taking her final bow.

Review Quotes.

“If this is your first meeting with Sarah Kelling, oh how I envy you!” - Margaret Maron, author of The Buzzard Table.

“Charlotte MacLeod does what she does better than anybody else does it; and what she does is in the top rank of modern mystery fiction.” - Elizabeth Peters, creator of the Amelia Peabody series.

“Charm, wit, and Holmesian logic.” - Audiofile.

About the Author

Charlotte MacLeod (1922–2005) was an internationally bestselling author of cozy mysteries. Born in Canada, she moved to Boston as a child, and lived in New England most of her life. After graduating from college, she made a career in advertising, writing copy for the Stop & Shop Supermarket Company before moving on to Boston firm N. H. Miller & Co., where she rose to the rank of vice president. In her spare time, MacLeod wrote short stories, and in 1964 published her first novel, a children’s book called “Mystery of the White Knight.”

In “Rest You Merry” (1978), MacLeod introduced Professor Peter Shandy, a horticulturist and amateur sleuth whose adventures she would chronicle for two decades. “The Family Vault” (1979) marked the first appearance of her other best-known characters: the husband and wife sleuthing team Sarah Kelling and Max Bittersohn, whom she followed until her last novel, “The Balloon Man,” in 1998.

The Plain Old Man

A Sarah Kelling and Max Bittersohn Mystery

Charlotte MacLeod

 

BASTEI ENTERTAINMENT

 

Bastei Entertainment is an imprint of Bastei Lübbe AG

 

Copyright © 2015 by Bastei Lübbe AG, Schanzenstraße 6-20, 51063 Cologne, Germany

 

For the original edition:

Copyright © 2012 by The Mysterious Press, LLC, 58 Warren Street, New York, NY. U.S.A.

 

Copyright © 1988 by Charlotte MacLeod

 

Project management: Lori Herber

Cover adaptation: Christin Wilhelm, www.grafic4u.de

Cover design by Mauricio Díaz

 

E-book production: Jouve Germany GmbH & Co. KG

 

ISBN 978-3-95859-371-8

 

www.bastei-entertainment.com

 

All rights reserved, including without limitation the right to reproduce this e-book or any portion thereof in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of the publisher.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

For Alice, Priscilla, and Sackville

THE SORCERER

An Original Comic Opera

Words by W. S. Gilbert, Music by Sir Arthur Sullivan

Presented by the Pirates of Pleasaunce

Mrs. Beddoes Kelling, Director

Dramatis Personae

Sir Marmaduke Pointdextre

(an Elderly Baronet)

John Tippleton

Alexis, His Son

(of the Grenadier Guards)

Parker Pence

Dr. Daly

(Vicar of Ploverleigh)

Sebastian Frostedd

Notary

Charles Daventer

John Wellington Wells

(of J. W. Wells & Co., Family Sorcerers)

Ridpath Wale

Lady Sangazure

(A Lady of Ancient Lineage)

Emma Kelling

Aline, Her Daughter

(Betrothed to Alexis)

Jenicot Tippleton

Mrs. Partlett

(A Pew Opener)

Martha Tippleton

Constance, Her Daughter

Gillian Bruges

Music by The Beddoes Kelling Memorial Orchestra

Scenery by Sarah Kelling Bittersohn and Guy Mannering

Letter from Miss Mabel Kelling to Mrs. Appolonia Kelling:

Dear Appie,

I presume you expect to be thanked for the gift which I have not yet been able to identify. Never let it be said that I am remiss in my social duties. Speaking of which, you had better not plan on staying with me overnight when you come to attend Emma’s latest venture into amateur theatricals. You know she will be miffed if you don’t allow her to play lady of the manor offstage as well as on, though I’m not sure where she’s going to park you if Sarah’s still there. It looks to me as if she’ll be around a good deal longer than Emma expects. Sarah claims that new husband of hers is off on another of his so-called business trips. Surely even you can read between the lines!!!

Anyway, they are up to their eyeballs over there with the play, or comic opera as I believe those Gilbert & Sullivan things are properly called. The plot, as far as I’ve been able to make out, deals with a boy and girl who are foolish enough to become engaged to each other, and their parents (a widow and widower respectively) who wish to be engaged but for some never-explained reason are not.

There is also a silly young thing who is chasing after the vicar, he being at least twice her age. She has a mother who is listed on the program as a pew opener. This presumably refers to the period when the gentry had themselves shut into high-walled pews at church so the common folk couldn’t see what they were up to during the service. Since you are so totally inept at keeping a story straight, I thought I might as well explain in advance what this one is all about, rather than get hissed at for information all through the performance as generally happens.

After the usual tiresome overture, a chorus of village men and maidens (!!!) sing the usual sort of unintelligible nonsense about how happy everybody is today because Aline (the girl) is getting betrothed to Alexis (the boy). Then the pew opener and her daughter come on looking as grumpy as we shall all, no doubt, be feeling by then. The daughter (Constance) tells her mother (Mrs. Partlett) that she is in love with the vicar, who doesn’t care for her. Needless to say, the vicar then appears, declaiming that the girls aren’t chasing him any more now that he’s old and fat instead of young and handsome. The mother tries her hand at matchmaking and fails, naturally, this being only the beginning of the show.

They go away, no doubt to everyone’s relief. The boy (Alexis) and his father (Sir Marmaduke) come on and are congratulated by the vicar (Dr. Daly) for quite some time. You know how ministers run on. These three go away and on comes Aline with the rest of the girls. She sings a song about marriage having its disadvantages as well as its alleged advantages, as if one had to be told. Then the mother (Lady Sangazure) and prospective father-in-law (Sir Marmaduke) enter and they all sing a lot of gibberish about one thing and another.

At last the lawyer appears with the bridal contract. Instead of reading out the terms in a sane and sensible manner, the young people go ahead and append their signatures to the unread document, while the chorus stands around loudly applauding this totally rash and senseless act.

Eventually they all leave the stage except Alexis and Aline. Alexis expounds some ridiculous theory that everybody ought to marry everybody else without distinction of rank. Aline, like a besotted little ninny, agrees with him. He then tells her he has resolved on obtaining a potion which will make all those villagers who have shown a reluctance toward lawful wedlock (though no doubt sufficient forwardness in other directions!) fall in love with one another.

Aline protests, but of course he doesn’t listen—men never do—and they go off to one J. Wellington Wells, a sorcerer (hence, I assume, the name of the production) to get the potion. He subjects them to a lot of mumbojumbo, no doubt as an excuse to jack up the price, then sells them the potion, which he puts into a large teapot Alexis has brought with him. Alexis, mind you, being the son of a baronet (Sir Marmaduke)—can you picture a baronet’s son carrying a large teapot, unwrapped, through the streets of London? Perhaps this is meant to add a touch of humor.

In any event, they take the pot to a tea party which Sir Marmaduke (the baronet) is giving to celebrate the betrothal. Too cheap or too broke to buy champagne, I suppose—they always are, aren’t they? Alexis, who appears to have no moral principles whatsoever (he being the hero, you will recall) tricks the vicar into making tea in the aforementioned teapot and gets everybody to drink some except himself, Aline, and the sorcerer, who has somehow wangled an invitation to the affair. At this point, mercifully, we have an intermission. I expect the Girl Scouts will be peddling pink lemonade and cookies as usual.

Having developed acidosis in support of whatever good cause Emma happens to be supporting at the moment—after that fire-engine business I quit trying to keep track—we go back to our seats, if we can find them, and watch everybody wake up and fall in love. First the members of the chorus conduct a sort of mass wooing, then Constance (the pew opener’s daughter, as you’ve most likely forgotten by now) enters arm in arm with the lawyer, moaning that she has suddenly lost her feeling for the vicar (which wasn’t getting her anywhere anyway) and fallen madly in love with this plain old man as she describes him and as he will certainly be, since I understand Emma’s old flame Charlie Daventer is to play the role, assuming he can shake off his booze-induced gout in time.

Moving on less rapidly than one might wish, Constance (see above) bewails her plight at quite unreasonable length with Alexis, Aline, and the chorus all getting into the act. Eventually Alexis and Aline are left alone. Alexis starts nagging at Aline to drink the potion also and thus become his willing slave for life (you will notice that he never offers to drink it and become her willing slave!!!). During the ensuing quarrel, Sir Marmaduke comes along engaged to the pew opener (Mrs. Partlett). Lady Sangazure, who will of course be played to the hilt and then some by Emma herself, falls in love with Mr. Wells (the sorcerer), who rejects her, he being the only one so far who’s shown a lick of sense despite his odd profession.

Then Aline drinks the potion, not in front of Alexis, which would have been at least plausible, but just in time to meet Dr. Daly (the vicar) who is wandering along playing a flageolet (a penny whistle, in plainer terms) and complaining that everybody is now engaged to somebody and nobody is left to marry him. At that point he comes face-to-face with Aline and they fall in love.

Well, of course Alexis is furious at being jilted even though he’s brought it upon himself, and goes whining off to Mr. Wells to undo the spell. It turns out that the only way this can be done is for either Alexis or Wells to die. If you can make sense of that, you will show greater acumen than I’ve ever found cause to credit you with. Anyway, Wells gets thumbs-down from the assemblage and disappears through the trapdoor, assuming it’s in working order this time. At last all the couples switch around and get suitably mated, another comic touch, one assumes, and sing something about strawberry jam and rollicking buns. All this is supposed to add up to a highly diverting evening. I shall take my knitting with me.

Yrs. aff.,

Mabel

Chapter 1

“HE’S UGLY AND ABSURDLY dressed, and sixty-seven nearly. He’s everything that I detest, yet if the truth must be confessed, I love him very dearly.”

Sarah Kelling, who was now in fact Sarah Bittersohn but had found one didn’t get out of being a Kelling through a mere nuptial technicality, sang because she was happy. Sloshing bucketfuls of paint on yards and yards of canvas was glorious work. This was going to be a shrubbery in front of which the vicar would pour his pretty stiff jorum of tea. Sarah decided she’d try her hand at a Prunus glandulosa as soon as she’d finished the Lagerstroemia indica. She was using one of Aunt Emma’s seed catalogs for a reference, and it was having the usual heady effect. The glorious difference here, though, was that a scene painter could make her shrubs bloom as grandly as the ones in the photographs, while a gardener seldom could.

“You very plain old man, I love you dearly.” Had her husband, Max, been around, he could have deduced that the Pirates of Pleasaunce were doing The Sorcerer this year. As it happened, Max had just set off for Belgium on the trail of a purloined Picasso when Emma Kelling sent out her distress signal. Emma was Lady Sangazure this time around. Last year she’d been Katisha in The year before that, she’d been the Fairy Queen in And she’d been great. She always was.

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!