Book Review: This Private Plot by Alan Beechey

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This Private Plot  by Alan Beechey

Poisoned Pen PressThis Private Plot


305 pages Genre: Mystery

Alan Beechey’s latest, This Private Plot,is a wonderful romp. His character,  Oliver Swithin, is a children’s book author that is currently working on a trivia book. We travel with him to his childhood home in a small village appropriately named Synne, which I am pretty sure is pronounced “sin”. Swithin is with his girlfriend, a police officer that reports to Swithin’s uncle, who is also on holiday in Synne.

While out on a naked midnight romp in the “Shakespeare Race” an authentic turf maze, our couple finds Dennis Breedlove, a former children’s television personality, hanged. The police think it is suicide, because a blackmail note is found. It turns out that Breedlove is actually the blackmailer.

Swithin is on the trail of the killer. Several trails actually. Convinced that one of the blackmailers is the killer, Swithin tries to match up suspects with the nursery rhymes Breedlove used to identify them. With the help of his girlfriend and unheeded warnings from his uncle to stop, he discovers that Synne has more than its share of secrets. They include a strange writing group run by the Vicar, a couple which may be the same person, a recluse monk and possibly his own family.

All of sleuthing is going on while Swithin’s brother is trying to prove there were two William Shakespeares and his uncle is starring in a local theater production of Hamlet. There are great tidbits of information on Shakespeare as well as other bits of trivia shared by Swithin while this story unfolds.

Beechey is a master of double-entendre. From names such as Lesbia Weguelin (to which I read “let’s be a wigglin’) to the name of the actual town. Swithin talks often about living in Synne. More than once, I stopped to read a particularly funny line to whoever was near me at the moment.

This mystery is so wonderfully British in the spirit of Agatha Christie with the humor of P.G. Wodehouse, I simultaneously laughed and was intrigued. At times, this book was a bit bawdy, but never graphic, I did not find it offensive. Deliciously tangle plot that is perfectly tied up by the end of the book, with a beautiful, unexpected twist at the end.

This is the third book in Beechley’s Oliver Swithin Mystery Series. It was the first one I’ve read and worked very well as a stand-alone mystery. Swithin is an endearingly wacky character. I want to see more of him and the other characters that Beechley skillfully brings to life  .


Copyright © 2014 Laura Hartman

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.

Book Review: Dying to Know by TJ O’Connor

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Dying to KnowDying to Know, a Gumshoe Ghost Mystery

TJ O’Connor

Published by Midnight Ink, Imprint of Llewellyn Worldwide, LTD

ISBN  978-0-7387-3950-2

368 pages

Reviewed by Laura Hartman

Genre: Mystery

We have all heard that “Dead men tell no tales” (author unknown) but in TJ O’Connor’s breakout novel Dying to Know a dead man does tell a tale. A very entertaining tale to be exact.

The novel starts out with the bang. That bang is the gun that kills Detective Oliver Tucker (known as Tuck) when he gets up during the night to investigate a noise he hears downstairs. When he wakes up to see his dead body and crying wife, he knows that life – now death – will never be the same. His faithful black Lab Hercule can see him and hear him, but is confused when Tuck cannot play ball or pet him.

Once he gets more accustom to his new state, he is determined to find his killer. However, he needs help from his partner, known as Bear, who is acting very suspicious. Bear is hiding evidence, meeting with unsavory characters and seems to be excessively close to Tuck’s wife, Angel.  On the road to finding his killer, will Tuck see, hear and find out things that he might not want to know about those that are closest to him?

Tuck’s problems are compounded when he is swept away to watch scenes that include murders and abductions. He is not sure if he is going back in time or watching an event that could be prevented. While he tries to figure out how to help, Doc, his spirit guide visits him, but doesn’t give him answers, only suggestions.

The quest to find his killer becomes part of a tangled plot that is ensnaring Angel and Bear.

He reaches out desperately to Angel. But at what cost? He may be putting this professor in more danger than she bargains for by asking her to be his investigator. Soon a retired mobster, hired killer and maybe one of Angel’s closest friends are all looking suspicious to Tuck. He is no longer just looking for his murderer; he is trying to protect those he loves from joining him in death.

Don’t let all of this murder and mayhem stop you from enjoying the humor and fun in this mystery. It is a fun, fast read. I like the short chapters that call for me to read “just one more” until I realize it is past midnight. O’Connor pays homage to one of my all-time favorite authors, Dame Agatha Christie but naming the delightful Lab Hercule and including an archaeological dig as part of the main storyline.

Kudos to O’Connor on his debut novel. I cannot wait to hear more tales from the dead man in this series.

Copyright © 2014 Laura Hartman

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.

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