Friday, June 27, 2014

This Private Plot: Review

The odd thing about a banana," Oliver Swithin mused as he chased the naked policewoman across the moonlit field, "is not that it's an excellent source of potassium, but that everybody seems to know it is.

According to local legend in the British village of Synne (standing joke "living in Synne"), it is the custom for young lovers to run naked to a local landmark known as Shakespeare's Race at midnight on May Day and follow the path of the oddly named turf maze to the (most romantic) old gibbet that sits in the center. That would be the reason that Oliver Swithin would be chasing a naked Scotland Yard detective while he himself is decked out in only his best birthday suit. Who knew that his Uncle Tim (and, incidentally, his beloved policewoman's boss) would be doing the same with Aunt Phoebe?  And that they would all meet up in the maze to have the romantic moment ruined....not by mutual embarrassment (though there's plenty of that to go around), but by a corpse dangling from the ancient hanging tree.

The local police are quite willing to believe that retired radio personality, "Uncle Dennis" Breedlove has committed suicide. Even after Oliver points out that "Uncle Dennis" wasn't near tall enough to reach the necessary branches. And even after the discovery that dear old "Uncle Dennis" was dirty blackmailer with at least five victims on his list. All sorts of odd things begin to happen--from the Vicar's strange behavior to the black-clad strangers who attack Oliver at night. There is the mysterious man who dresses like a monk but is rumored to be a Vampire. There are the Bennet sisters who have an internet career that no one--not even they--suspects. And there is the dead man who comes back to life. There are nursery rhyme clues and hints of a mystery that involves the great Bard himself. Quite a maze for Oliver and Scotland Yard to negotiate before they find the villain in the center.

Alan Beechey provides plenty of colorful characters in This Private Plot and gives us a solid, eccentric British mystery filled with typical British wit and plenty of red herrings. The book is the long-awaited (15 years!) third book in the Oliver Swithin series and I don't think fans will be disappointed. Great fun, interesting characters, and a plausible motive add up for a quick, entertaining read.  It is not necessary to read the previous two books to enjoy This Private Plot, but if you want to catch up on the Oliver Swithin mysteries and have difficulty finding the older books, you'll be glad to know that Poisoned Pen Press has recently issued new editions of Embarrassment of Corpses and Murdering Ministers, the first two books in the series.  ★★★

1 comment:

fredamans said...

Vampire, murder and naked runs, oh my!! LOL Sounds fun indeed! Great review!