MacLeod, Charlotte (Matilda) 1922-2005

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MacLEOD, Charlotte (Matilda) 1922-2005

(Alisa Craig, Matilda Hughes)


Born November 12, 1922, in Bath, New Brunswick, Canada; died January 14, 2005, in Lewiston, Maine; immigrated to the United States, 1923, naturalized citizen, December 10, 1951; daughter of Edward Phillips (a contractor) and Mabel Maude (a homemaker; maiden name, Hayward) MacLeod. Education: Attended School of Practical Art (now Art Institute of Boston). Politics: Liberal Democrat.


Home—R.R. 1, Box 475E, Pitts Center Rd., Richmond, ME 04357. Agent—Dominick Abel Literary Agency, 146 West 82nd St., Suite 1B, New York, NY 10024.


Writer. Stop and Shop Supermarkets, Boston, MA, staff artist and copy writer, 1945-52; N. H. Miller and Co., Inc. (advertising firm), Boston, began as copy chief, became vice president, 1952-82. Library trustee, Sundbury, MA, 1976-82.


American Crime Writers League (cofounder; president, 1989-91; editor, beginning 1991), Crime Writers of Canada.


Bouchercon convention, guest of honor, 1988, lifetime achievement award, 1992; Malice Domestic convention, guest of honor, 1991; five American Mystery Awards; two Edgar Allan Poe Award nominations, Mystery Writers of America; Nero Wolfe Award.



Rest You Merry, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1978.

The Luck Runs Out, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1979.

Wrack and Rune, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1982.

Something the Cat Dragged In, Avon (New York, NY), 1984.

The Curse of the Giant Hogweed, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1985.

The Corpse in Oozak's Pond, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 1987.

Vane Pursuit, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 1989.

An Owl Too Many, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 1991.

Something in the Water, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 1994.

Exit the Milkman, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 1996.


The Family Vault, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1979.

The Withdrawing Room, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1980.

The Palace Guard, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1981.

The Bilbao Looking Glass, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1983.

The Convivial Codfish, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1984.

The Plain Old Man, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1985.

The Recycled Citizen, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 1988.

The Silver Ghost, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 1988.

The Gladstone Bag, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 1990.

The Resurrection Man, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 1992.

The Odd Job, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 1995.

The Balloon Man (Mystery Guild selection), Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 1998.


A Pint of Murder, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1980.

Murder Goes Mumming, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1981.

A Dismal Thing to Do, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1986.

Trouble in the Brasses, Avon (New York, NY), 1989.

The Wrong Rite, Morrow (New York, NY), 1992.


The Grub-and-Stakers Move a Mountain, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1981.

The Grub-and-Stakers Quilt a Bee, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1985.

The Grub-and-Stakers Pinch a Poke, Avon (New York, NY), 1988.

The Grub-and-Stakers Spin a Yarn, Avon (New York, NY), 1990.

The Grub-and-Stakers House a Haunt, Morrow (New York, NY), 1993.


Mystery of the White Knight (mystery novel), Avalon (New York, NY), 1964.

Next Door to Danger (mystery novel), Avalon (New York, NY), 1965.

(Under pseudonym Matilda Hughes) The Food of Love, Avalon (New York, NY), 1965.

(Under pseudonym Matilda Hughes) Headlines for Caroline, Avalon (New York, NY), 1967.

The Fat Lady's Ghost, Weybright (New York, NY), 1968.

Mouse's Vineyard, Weybright (New York, NY), 1968.

Ask Me No Questions, Macrae Smith (Philadelphia, PA), 1971.

Brass Pounder, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1971.

King Devil, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1978.

We Dare Not Go A-Hunting, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1980.

Cirak's Daughter, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1982.

Maid of Honor, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1984.


Astrology for Skeptics, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1972.

(Under pseudonym Alisa Craig) The Terrible Tide, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1983.

Grab Bag (short stories), Avon (New York, NY), 1987.

(Editor) Mistletoe Mysteries (anthology), Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 1989.

(Editor) Christmas Stalkings (anthology), Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 1991.

Had She But Known: A Biography of Mary Roberts Rinehart, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 1994.

It Was an Awful Shame and Other Stories, Five Star (Waterville, ME), 2002.

Contributor of short stories to anthologies. Contributor of short stories and articles, some self-illustrated, to magazines, including Good Housekeeping, Yankee, Edgar Wallace Mystery, Criminologist, Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery, and Cricket.

A collection of MacLeod's manuscripts is housed at the Mugar Memorial Library at Boston University, Boston, MA.


Charlotte MacLeod wrote a variety of mystery novels over the past thirty years, ranging from young adult mysteries to novels featuring the series characters Sarah Kelling and Peter Shandy. Jane S. Bakerman and Helen M. Francini, writing in the St. James Guide to Crime and Mystery Writers, observed that MacLeod's "best-known fiction emphasizes the orderly world vital to cozy mysteries. Moreover, her stories reveal that sweet dispositions, good food, and loyalty are the basic necessities for a happy marriage. Coupling this philosophy with clever plots and plenty of humor has netted her a host of fans and a sound reputation. No matter what setting, characters, or plot twists appear in her books, they all provide the reader with good, solid, escapism and fun."

MacLeod's books featuring Sarah Kelling have been particularly popular with readers. Kelling, a member of an old and prominent Boston family, is a widow whose family connections lead her into privately investigating murderous mysteries. During the course of the series she is courted by Max Bittersohn, a specialist in art theft, marries him, and has a child. The Kelling adventures are filled with disguises, well-meaning "do-goodism," and Sarah's many eccentric relatives.

The "Peter Shandy" series features a professor at Balaclava Agricultural College who is world-renowned for developing the Balaclava Buster, a new kind of rutabaga. Shandy's adventures take place in the academic circles of his profession. "As in the Kelling series," wrote Bakerman and Francini, "the Balaclava saga is as crowded with love stories as it is with fun." In Exit the Milkman, for example, James Feldster, the head of the dairy management department at Balaclava, disappears. His wife is later found murdered. Shandy finds himself trying to sort out the reasons behind the murder, which left Feldster the recepient of the family fortune. "MacLeod again demonstrates her skill and with incomparable whimsy makes her bucolic puzzles great fun," noted a critic for Publishers Weekly.

Bakerman and Francini concluded that all of MacLeod's characters are "memorable; all are interesting, and their expected foibles, actions, and reactions provide ample amusement and escape. Their peculiarities distance readers so that the emotional cost of eavesdropping on these murderous adventures is very low whereas the profit—entertainment—is very high."



St. James Guide to Crime and Mystery Writers, 4th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.


Booklist, September 15, 1998, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of The Balloon Man, p. 203.

Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 1998, review of The Balloon Man, p. 1565; May 15, 2002, review of It Was an Awful Shame and Other Stories, p. 708.

Publishers Weekly, January 31, 1994, p. 78; March 21, 1994, p. 59; March 6, 1995, p. 61; July 1, 1996, p. 45; November 2, 1998, review of The Balloon Man, p. 73.

School Library Journal, April, 1999, review of The Balloon Man, p. 161.

ONLINE, (October 7, 1998), Harriet Klausner, review of The Balloon Man.*

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MacLeod, Charlotte (Matilda) 1922-2005

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