This Private Plot
An Oliver Swithin Mystery by Alan Beechey
Review: When Dennis Breedlove is found hanging from a tree, the police assume it is suicide. Their conclusion is all but confirmed when a blackmail letter is found in his home, hinting that someone had threatened to disclose a "little family secret", something that they assume was so terrible he'd rather die than reveal. But children's books author — and amateur sleuth — Oliver Swithin doesn't buy it, in This Private Plot, the third mystery in this series by Alan Beechey.
Oliver is puzzled by several aspects to the case, not the least of which is that he doesn't think the elderly Breedlove would have had the dexterity and strength to climb the tree to hang himself in the first place. There are far easier ways to do away with oneself. If he didn't kill himself, then it must be murder. But then why murder the man you're blackmailing? There wouldn't seem to be any profit in doing so. And then there's that scrap of paper torn from an old printed volume of Shakespeare, found near the blackmail letter, which intrigues him. Could it be related to the case?
This Private Plot is a delightfully entertaining, English village-style mystery. There is an abundance of wry humor and clever wordplay sprinkled throughout, so much so that at times it's easy to forget that there is a potential crime to investigate. There aren't any suspects, per se, as the police don't believe a crime has actually been committed, but Oliver has his eye on many of the local residents, one of whom he believes must have been the blackmailer, if not the killer. And an eccentric lot they are. Fans of Shakespeare will appreciate the many references to not only the Bard's plays, but also the ongoing debate as to whether or not he actually wrote them. No conclusion is implied or drawn here, but the discussion within the storyline is spirited while also being an important clue to help Oliver determine what really happened and why. The action picks up dramatically towards the end, when Oliver reveals what he knows … and is then surprised to discover there's more to the story than he could have ever imagined. A very enjoyable mystery all around, one that's highly recommended.
Acknowledgment: Maryglenn McCombs Book Publicity provided a copy of This Private Plot for this review.
Review Copyright © 2014 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in This Private Plot: England
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This Private Plot by Alan Beechey — An Oliver Swithin Mystery
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: May 2014
List Price: $24.95
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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