This Private Plot by Alan Beechey

This Private Plot by Alan Beechey
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (305 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

Sherlock Holmes once claimed that “the lowest and vilest alleys of London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside.”  And Oliver Swithin, reluctant guest in an English village, is about to find out that it’s true.

Coaxed out of his clothes and into a midnight streak by his girlfriend, Oliver’s amorous intentions are thwarted by the discovery of a dead body dangling from the village’s ancient gibbet. When it appears that the famous victim was driven to suicide by blackmail, Oliver resolves to find the blackmailer. And to do so, he needs to discover the dead man’s secret.

But in the twenty-first century, when sins that would once have been ripe for shaming are now a cause for hiring a publicist, what foul deeds of the past will people still pay to keep hidden? Is the carefully cut out page from a Shakespeare play, with its reference to a “private plot,” really a clue? Why did somebody fill in the victim’s grave before his funeral?
And what does any of this have to do with the memoir writers of the Vicar’s reading group, the five unmarried Bennett sisters, the mysterious monk known only as “The Vampire of Synne,” the case of the two Shakespeares, and the married couple who are never seen in the same room at the same time? Will there be yet another appearance by Underwood Tooth, the world’s leading expert on being ignored?

Oliver discovers that the death was no suicide. But that’s nothing compared with the next revelation, which turns the entire investigation upside down and puts Oliver’s own life in peril.

Never trust your younger brother. If he and his girlfriend hadn’t been tempted to run naked the maze at midnight, they never would have found the dead body…

This is the third in a series about Oliver Swithin, amateur sleuth. He’s also a children’s book author, but he has to use a pseudonym to keep from embarrassing his father. He does have a very pretty girlfriend who works for Scotland Yard, but that doesn’t redeem him in his father’s eyes. This is the first one of Mr. Beechey’s books I’ve read, but I’ve enjoyed it. It reads fine as a stand-alone.

The dead man was “Uncle Dennis” and while he seemed an inoffensive quiet little man, he does have some secrets. The police determine he committed suicide, as unlikely as it may seem. It also appears to be an impossible thing to do for Oliver, but no one listens to him. When he says that the suicide note left would be enough to drive him to suicide and isn’t that murder, too, he doesn’t get far. The police do entertain those notions. He’s warned to leave it alone. We all know he won’t. What he finds is that such a small village holds a lot of secrets. And even his family has some…

I enjoyed the dinner party Oliver and Effie attended. The moneyed family’s unwed daughters are anxious to capture Oliver and fairly rude to Effie. I just loved all the nasty comments she made in her mind to them. She was gracious and didn’t say them out loud, but she did get drunk. I found that realistic.

The whole story is full of outlandish secrets (that really aren’t secrets to anyone except Oliver) and a very convoluted path to the person who finally got tired of Uncle Dennis and tried to clear the path to money and marriage. I was surprised to find out who the killer was. I was also surprised by a secret finally disclosed to Oliver at the end of the book. It has shaken his life up and I see the next book already forming in the author’s head.

The author writes a good book with some tongue-in-cheek jokes, plenty of action and a good flow to the story. I was impressed enough with this read, I’ll be looking for more of his books. There are even Shakespearean quotes interspersed here and there. You can find out a bit of English history during the read. Give it try; I think you’ll like it.

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