Elwood’s fourth short-story mystery collection revolving around the Beary family, written in the tradition of classic golden-age cozies.
This diverse collection of short stories features the Beary family of British Columbia: City Councilor Bertram and his acerbic wife, Edwina; their daughter Sylvia and her husband, Norton, both attorneys; their son, Richard, a detective inspector; their daughter Philippa, an opera singer and sometimes-actress who has an on-again, off-again relationship with Detective Bob Miller; and daughter Juliette and her husband, Stephen, singers and puppeteers; plus the family’s assorted children and dogs. Tales range from a murder that occurs in the snowy streets of Gastown while a production of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap is underway, to a child in peril at the 2010 Winter Olympics, to one set in the Old South, harkening back to the War of 1812. There’s even one involving a ghost of sorts set at the seaside. Although Elwood has been compared to Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers, and those influences are clearly felt here, Christie’s prodigious body of work remains in print because her tales have unmatched complexity, depth and ingenuity; no successor threatens her crown. That being said, Elwood’s tales are well-written and engaging, and they feature an impressive array of puzzles. It’s unique that an entire family, rather than one amateur detective, dominates the stories; fortunately, they’re likable and worth following. Occasionally, a culprit may be telegraphed too loudly, but the clever plotlines and atmospheric backgrounds make for absorbing, delightful reading. Particularly delicious is the title story involving Philippa—who, like Elwood, is a soprano involved in theatrical productions—and Juliette, who shares Elwood’s background as a puppeteer.
High-quality, literate mysteries bound to please.