Smart plotting and a strong sense of place define this collection of mystery stories by playwright Elwood.
In this short-story collection–the third to feature the eccentric, artsy Beary family–setting stands out. The title story, "The Beacon," features an offshore buoy that's comfort and menace to an aging singer, while in "The Mystery of the Boston Teapots" a vacation along Boston's Freedom Trail uncovers a smuggling plot. An old family legend and a beautiful lake take center stage as a ghostly crime seems to recur in "Echo of Evil." Elwood, a resident of Vancouver, knows how to capture the beauty of Canada and even New England. She's invented an enjoyable set of oddball characters in the Bearys. Controlling matron Edwina and her comfort-loving husband Bertram are just the beginning of the roll call. Their children consist of detective Richard, ambitious lawyer Sylvia (and her less-than-driven husband) and opera-singing Phillippa. They are an inquisitive lot, reminiscent of some of Agatha Christie's quirkier novice gumshoes. Phillippa, the only unmarried Beary, has her drama in these pages as well, as her romance with another singer first sours and then seems to reignite, while a promising new suitor makes an appearance in the final pages. The stories are marred only by the author’s slight tendency to overwrite, to add the occasional unnecessary adverb or bit of description. Still, the tales are colorful and well-plotted, leaving readers with a sharp sense of these intriguing characters. While these traditional mysteries won’t shock readers out of their comfort zone, the beautiful settings and genuine personalities will charm.
A collection destined to be popular with those who love amateur sleuths.