boston baked beans in balaclavas
Charlotte MacLeod's books seem to be set in a world of their own: a world slightly more colorful than our own, but nevertheless quite definitely askew.
The Family Vault begins a series set mostly in Boston society. Sarah Kelling is a young widow trying to make do on very little money, and trying to cope with finding an unexpected skeleton in the family tomb. Max Bittersohn is an internationally-known tracer and recoverer of stolen works of art. Later books include The Case of the Convivial Codfish, The Recycled Citizen, and quite a few others whose names escape me because they are all packed at the moment. All are delightfully populated with oddball characters. Max's relatives are uniformly good, decent, friendly people; Sarah's are weird, odd, cantankerous, notorious, generous to a fault, stingy as can be...I don't think there's a normal person in the bunch, with the possible exception of Sarah.
MacLeod's other series involves Peter Shandy, a professor at Balaclava Agricultural College. Shandy is the developer of the Balaclava Buster, the world's largest strain of rutabagas, among other botanical curiousities. Titles include One Owl Too Many, Wrack and Rune, and Something in the Water.
I originally read all of these in no particular order, and found them enjoyable enough. They've all been uniformly enjoyable, with the possible exception of the most recent book in each series.
MacLeod has also written a number of mysteries under the name The Grub-and-Stakers Quilt a Bee, which we thoroughly disliked. The identity of the murderer was obvious less than half-way through the book, for one thing. As a result, we've not been too eager to try the others.; we've only read one of them,