By: Alan Beechey
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: May 2014
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: June 24, 2014
In his latest mystery, The Private Plot, Alan Beechey delivers solid entertainment through the full-bodied voice and ample British whit of his main character, Oliver Swithin.
On a midnight romp and steps away from the highest point of the Common, Oliver Swithin and Effie Strongitham’s holiday getaway is about to take a drastic right turn. Not quite a destination resort, Synne did hold court to the landmark of the Shakespeare Race; a smattering of ground roughly 150 feet in diameter where the top surface of the “...chalky soil had been scraped away to leave a dozen concentric rings of dark grass, each a yard wide...” It was due to this very notion that Synne was able to capitalize on some of its necessary claim to Shakespearean connection.
Feeling frisky and far from sleep, Bestselling Finsbury the Ferret children’s story writer (and amateur sleuth) Oliver Swithin and love interest Scotland Yard’s Effie Strongitham venture out. What better locale than the Shakespeare Race to solidify Oliver’s intentions by week’s end—a proposal to his beloved Effie... or perhaps not. The moon is full and the setting, romantic and exhilarating at best. Long parted from their clothing, Oliver and Effie are about to get to it when they learn they are not alone. It seems Oliver’s parents were having trouble succumbing to slumber as well. The very thought of his naked parents romping the countryside in their under all is more than a mood killer for Oliver. To make matters worse, they stumble upon the corpse of retired radio broadcaster Dennis Breedlove swinging to and fro from the branch of the old gibbet. Was this suicide or perhaps not? Fortunate for Oliver, the love of his life was brilliant in her Scotland Yard abilities. Sadly, after initial investigation, Oliver finds himself wanting to investigate the possibility of murder while his beloved leans toward the obvious of suicide. The only concrete evidence ascertained that evening was lovemaking was off the table for the time being.
Alan Beechey sets the tone immediately and delivers the vital hook in any mystery within the first handful of pages: a body. Beechey sets the tempo with fluid cadence as he complements pace by peppering many a’ scene with delicious British humor and metaphor. He nails tongue in cheek flair from the onset as he writes nonsensical and conscious moodling thoughts coming from the mind of his Oliver Swithin. He writes of the oddities of a banana’s composition and in the next sentence he is redirecting his thoughts to his quest for his naked policewoman that he chases across a moonlit field. Bizarre, perhaps; but does it work? Absolutely! Beechey anchors the reader’s heart with the whimsy of Swithin and the reader is intrigued to turn the page and learn more. There are nearly 300 more pages of development of this luscious character to consume and Beechey does not disappoint. Beechey has imposed an engaging humorous slant in The Private Plot and is relentless in penning fantastic twists to the plot. He has littered his writing trail with breadcrumbs and is confident his readers will gobble them up to get to the conclusion—a conclusion that is wonderfully surprising and worth eating every ‘bread crumb’ to get there. Well done Mr. Beechey!
Quill says: The Private Plot is ‘Brit Whit’ at its finest and has a story line that makes page turning effortless!