Monday, January 17, 2005

Charlotte MacLeod

There was a small notice in the back pages of this morning's Press Telegram telling us that Charlotte MacLeod had died. The PT ran the Associated Press obituary that appears here. There haven't been any new books for a few years. And now it's certain that there won't be any more stories of Sarah Kelling, Professor Peter Shandy, or even of The Grub and Stakers.

The obit's short description is correct as far as it goes. It doesn't mention how funny she was. The "cozy" description certainly fits her mysteries. But it doesn't even hint at some of the great comic characters she created: over-blown and even cartoonish at times, but, withal, surprisingly real: the giant Swedish president of Balaclava Agricultural College, Thorkjeld Svenson and his wife, Seiglinde, Cronkite Swope, the demon reporter of The Balaclava County Fane and Pennon, and the mildly hen-pecked Chief of Police, Fred Ottermole, who makes his rounds on his oldest son's bicycle as he can never quite convince the town council to ante up for a new police car. Dickens knew how to do it and so did Charlotte MacLeod. And she was capable of creating real suspense in the same novel, vide the first of the Sarah Kelling novels. The plots might range from the realistic to the surrealistic (if the later is a problem, you might want to skip "The Curse of the Giant Hogweed"). But always great fun.

In paradisum deducant te Angeli, Charlotte.