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by Maureen Sarsfield
Rue Morgue Press, July 2003
190 pages
ISBN: 0915230569

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

MURDER AT BEECHLANDS is Maureen Sarsfield’s second and final mystery. Anabel Adams is giving a dinner party in order to both entertain her guests as well as attempt to find a backer. She runs a hotel that is slowly falling on to hard times. She does not have the ability to make wise money decisions and still wants to impress the important (read rich) people with her extravagance. Unfortunately, all of her current guests have secret feuds and affairs with each other. Her party turns out to be like no other party. One of the guests, Lawton “Lawty” Lawrence is found dead after either jumping or being pushed out of his bedroom window. Inspector Lane Parry, a Scotland Yard officer, is trying to return home and is forced by the weather to stay at Anabel’s hotel. He feels that he has entered an asylum rather than a hotel, but he finds himself intrigued by the murder. Parry must find the murderer before more victims are murdered.

Classic mysteries have a feel to them that is difficult to capture. Unlike modern historical mysteries, classic mysteries allow the reader to walk into the past and gain a true perspective of the period. The world captured in MURDER AT BEECHLANDS has the atmosphere and situations that would occur in the 1940s. All of the alcohol consumption and dated social niceties are obviously example of a pervious time. Classic mysteries also focus more on the puzzle of a mystery. Although there are distractions throughout the book, the quest for the murderer remains in the forefront.

MURDER AT BEECHLANDS has amusing and almost unbelievable characters. It is easy to see why Parry thought all of the other characters were inmates at Bedlam. To take a single example, Cintra Norton is an aging actress who is hysterical and always runs around with her mouth open. No one seems to know why, but it never seems to close.

One can only wonder why Maureen Sarsfield ended her writing career after the completion of this book. After getting the opportunity to see Parry as a police officer, one can only wonder what else he will get himself involved with.

Reviewed by Sarah Dudley, August 2003

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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