Thursday, August 28, 2014

Dark side? What dark side?

My late mother always told me not to show off. So having posted a set of glowing reviews of This Private Plot yesterday, I'm now required by upbringing, personality, culture, and nationality to appease the universe by trashing myself.

The only trouble is (he said cautiously, fearing the lightning strike from beyond), the reviews have been pretty exclusively, uh, positive.

What do to then to be gloomy and British and self-deprecating? What all publicists do -- take the words out of context!

“Alan Beechey may not win the Pulitzer Prize for This Private Plot."1
Reviewing the Evidence 


"It's easy to forget that there is a potential crime to investigate."3
Mysterious Reviews

"Tangled with twists and odd revelations."4
Joseph’s Reviews

"You'll be wondering about the recesses of the author's mind."5
Reader’s Favorite

"It was the first one I’ve read and worked very well as a stand-alone mystery."7
Laura Hartman for Oswego Patch and other blogs

"He has littered his writing trail with breadcrumbs."8
"Bizarre . . . does it work?"9
Feathered Quill

"The wit gets supercilious at times."10
"As far as literacy is concerned, reading the book is like playing hide-and-go-seek with Shakespearean quotes . . . The constant quoting gets a bit old after a while."11
I Love a Mystery

"Outlandish. Convoluted."12
Long and Short Reviews

"I get a lot of books to review and some are more enjoyable than others. This one I rationed."13
New Mystery Reader

"Awkward,  mentally meandering."14
Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine

"Twisty. Absurd. Silly. A bit dim."15

1Meredith was referring to the long gap between the second and third novels. "Much has been made of Donna Tartt's decades between novels, but The Goldfinch, while slow in arriving, ended up winning the Pulitzer Prize. So what, then, of a novel that has been fifteen years in the making? Alan Beechey may not win the Pulitzer Prize for This Private Plot, but Oliver Swithin fans won't be disappointed."

2“. . . . This snarky cozy is full of humor and British quirkiness. Agatha Christie meets Monty Python.”

3"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."

4"Artfully tangled with twists and odd revelations."

5"You'll be wondering about the recesses of the author's mind as you tease yourself to solve the ongoing mystery." I love this comment.

6"Deliciously tangled plot that is perfectly tied up by the end of the book, with a beautiful, unexpected twist at the end."

7So you needn't bother to read the earlier ones, I guess.

8"He has littered his writing trail with breadcrumbs and is confident his readers will gobble them up."

9"Bizarre, perhaps; but does it work? Absolutely!"

10A quite genuine negative criticism.

11It's this book's puzzle within a puzzle. As Simon Brett once memorably said: "Well done, you spotted it."

12"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."

13"This one I rationed to make it last longer."

14"If the situation weren’t already awkward enough, the unclothed group discover the body of a well-known BBC storyteller hanging from a tree. Thus begins the third Oliver Swithin mystery featuring the sneezing, mentally meandering, Wodehouseian hero."

15"The plot is nice and twisty, and mostly character-driven. The absurd moments are very absurd. . .  There were silly situations that yet proceeded naturally from the course of events, and there were twists that I didn't call at all -- and I've read enough mysteries that I can generally predict the main twists. . . . Our hero, Oliver, is a nice but occasionally a bit dim chap . . ."

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Nope, modesty does NOT forbid.

Some well-chosen snippets from recent reviews of This Private Plot:

“Witty, entertaining, and highly recommended.”
Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine 

“Entertaining . . . . colorful . . . riotous . . . suspenseful.”
Publisher’s Weekly 

“Delightfully entertaining. A very enjoyable mystery all around, one that's highly recommended.”
 Mysterious Reviews 

“Greatly superior to the average formulaic cozy. Recommended”
 I Love a Mystery 

 “A great mystery. Interesting plot twists . . . keep the pages turning and the reader guessing.”
Reviewing the Evidence 

“What a fun read! a great mystery filled with secrets and British shenanigans!”
Mysteries, Etc. 

“Imagine that Caroline Graham, author of the intricately-plotted ‘Midsomer Murders’ series got together with P G Wodehouse to write a murder mystery. . . . A really amusing and charming book.”
New Mystery Reader 

 “A subtle humor floats through the story, bringing a touch of whimsy to a serious plot. Delightful.”

“The book is full of believable and interesting people. Beechey has created an entertaining puzzle.”
Roberta Alexander – syndicated in the San Jose Mercury and other California newspapers. 

“. . . . This snarky cozy is full of humor and British quirkiness. Agatha Christie meets Monty Python.”

“Artfully tangled with twists and odd revelations. Highly recommended.”
Joseph’s Reviews

“Thoroughly enjoyable British humor abounds in this delightful novel.”
Reader’s Favorite

“A wonderful romp. . . Wonderfully British in the spirit of Agatha Christie with the humor of P.G. Wodehouse.”
Laura Hartman for Oswego Patch and other blogs

“Solid entertainment . . . Beechey anchors the reader’s heart with the whimsy of Swithin and the reader is intrigued to turn the page and learn more.”
Feathered Quill

“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.”
Long and Short Reviews

“I loved it. Oliver’s girlfriend rocks!”

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Twist, Martext, Cromwell, Hardy, Reed, North, Goldsmith, Wendell Homes . . .

My lead character, Oliver Swithin, is not a fictional version of me, although I'm vaguely aware that he voices a lot of my opinions and prejudices. I will, however, grudgingly allow that he may be living somewhere along one of my own roads not taken.

That forename stuck in my head after a vacation reading of Dickens's Oliver Twist in the incongrous surroundings of sun-soaked Majorca. We don't even have any Olivers in the family.

Or so I thought.

But a recent burst of family tree research has turned one up at last. Yep, I have a 13th great-grandfather called Oliver Chadwick, direct ancestor of pompous Victorian poet and all-round mountebank "Professor" Richard Sheldon Chadwick, whose dubious doings have graced these pages before. I don't have any dates for Oliver, but his son Nicholas, my 12th great, was born in 1550 in Staffordshire, England.

Mathematically, I've inherited an average of 0.000031% of Oliver's genes. That means we have about one in 32,000 genes in common. And since the Genome Project has estimated that humans have only about 24,000 genes, this particular generation gap crosses the line where -- in terms of DNA, anyway -- Oliver's ancestry becomes completely irrelevant to me, and I'm no more related to him by blood than I would to any other sixteenth-century English citizen from the Midlands, such as, oh, William Shakespeare.

Unless, of course, Oliver's name eventually pops up more than once in my lineage, which is increasingly likely the further back you go, with twice as many branches for each generation and a fewer people around to sit on them. At Oliver's level there are already about 16,000 slots to be filled. (Effie Strongitharm has more to say about this stuff in This Private Plot. Just thought I'd mention that. If you're interested.)