A lively Vancouver family solves more than its share of murders.
These ten lighthearted mystery stories feature Councillor Bertram Beary and his wife, who are reminiscent of Rumpole and his wife Hilda from the popular British television series, Rumpole of the Bailey. Their son, Richard, is a Detective Inspector with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and their daughter, Phillippa, is an attractive and exceedingly clever opera singer. Throughout this series of stories, Phillippa is often at the scene of a murder, and both Bertram’s insight and his daughter’s flashes of intuition help Richard bring the criminals to justice. The actress of the title is Angela Benson, who, along with her brother Steven, has a perfect alibi for the murder of their wealthy Aunt Maud. Phillippa’s trip to the Seattle Opera affords her the opportunity to catch a murderer and drug dealer at the Canadian border, and an evening on the campaign trail for Bertram allows the whole family to apprehend a murderer who crosses their paths as they hand out leaflets. The thread holding most of the stories together is Phillippa’s career: In addition to opera productions, she appears in musicals and even church passion plays. Each self-contained story focuses on criminals who plan and carry out what they think is the perfect murder, with a particular clever trick providing them with a seemingly perfect alibi. But each time, a member of the Beary family is there to thwart them.
The classic murder mystery plots are reminiscent of Agatha Christie and Ellery Queen, and the charming, quirky Beary family make Elwood’s stories enjoyable, if somewhat one-dimensional.