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Reviewed by Saifunnissa Hassam for Readers' Favorite
James R. Callan's A Plot for Murder, A Father Frank Mystery: Murder at the Writers Conference is a mystery with an intriguing storyline. Father Frank DeLuca is the pastor of Prince of Peace Church in Pine Tree, Texas, and has successfully investigated crime cases. Rod Granet, a novelist, is the main speaker at the Piney Woods Writers Conference, at the Lakota Retreat Center. He is the winner of the prestigious Austin Benedict Award for Best Plot of the Year for his novel A Garden Variety Murder. His novel is on the USA Today bestselling list. Maggie DeLuca, a mystery writer from Dallas, is Father Frank's sister. When Maggie reads Granet's bestseller, she is convinced he has stolen an unpublished story she wrote a few years before, which she had sent to him for a review. She confronts him at the conference, but he rejects her accusation. Maggie threatens that he will pay for it. Granet is found murdered in his cabin at the retreat, and Maggie is arrested as the only suspect. When Texas Ranger Lieutenant Dick Richards is assigned to the case, he and Father Frank end up working together.
I particularly enjoyed reading A Plot for Murder because of the way Father Frank takes on an extremely challenging situation. How could he prove that his sister Maggie did not murder Rod Granet? I liked the way the story developed, making Father Frank's role in the case increasingly significant. I thought Maggie DeLuca's character was well developed as someone feisty, courageous, and unafraid to speak frankly. Those characteristics made for building tension as she landed in deep trouble as the only suspect in the murder. I enjoyed the situations, settings, and dialogue which demonstrated the calming effect Father Frank had on people through his patience, encouragement, and support. I particularly liked the setting in which the Texas Ranger Dick Richards met with Father Frank on an outside bench at the church. I appreciated how the story revealed Ranger Richards' character, and his commitment to seek out all the information and follow up on clues, before bringing an accused person to trial. The novel's ending and how the case was resolved were most satisfying. This was a very thought-provoking novel, which raised questions about justice and compassion.