Review: Death Before Swine {Ben Hart Mystery # 1} by V.K. Scott

Title: Death Before Swine {Ben Hart Mystery #1}

Author: V.K. Scott

Published: July 2011

Synopsis: Greed. Betrayal. Murder. Just another week in Diamond Alley, Arizona… Ben Hart is a high school chemistry teacher who thought his biggest problems were test scores and lunch room politics. That was before he lost his job, discovered his colleague murdered, and found himself with a new assignment—catch the killer. Now, as he navigates Diamond Alley’s backstreets, his questions are no longer multiple choice: Who can he trust? Will he ever get back to a simple life of worksheets and lab reports? And will he uncover the truth before the killer slips away?

Status: Read from April 12 to 13, 2012 – I own a copy {Courtesy the author}

My Thoughts:

The first in new mystery series, Death Before Swine introduces Ben Hart, a chemistry teacher, who is caught up in the misdeeds of his colleagues at his hometown high school. First Ben’s classroom is ruined in a chemical explosion, then a treasured school icon is destroyed and the school principal is quick to blame Ben’s teaching methods, firing him. Ben suspects these pranks are hiding something more sinister though and when the football coach is murdered, he decides to investigate.

The plot of Death Before Swine is solid, well mapped with plenty of suspects and a few more bodies added to keep things interesting. While solving Coach Griffin’s murder is the main focus of the story, Ben is sidetracked by drug dealing, gambling debts, false test data and a romantic entanglement or two. The sub plots give the novel depth and though I identified the killer quite early on, the murderer’s motivations, when revealed, were a surprise.
As an amateur sleuth, Ben is willing to admit his failings which is quite endearing. He is a bit of geek, useless in physical confrontations but has a strong moral center and an almost naive determination to solve the mystery. He makes for a likeable protagonist as he ardently pursues leads while side stepping the local detective and the seedier side of Diamond Alley.
There is a pleasant thread of humour running through Death Before Swine that lightens the tone of the story. I thought the writing to be strong and the text well edited.

Death Before Swine is an entertaining cozy mystery that has the potential to develop into a strong series. I rarely find cozies with a male protagonist so I enjoyed the endearing perspective of Ben Hart and look forward to joining him on his next case.

Available To Purchase

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About The Author

V.K. Scott writes mystery novels. Before his characters started chasing suspects and dodging bullets, V.K.’s pen drew exclusively across the papers of high school English students. While his red ink still flies through stray commas and criminal misspellings by day, by night he hammers out his own twisted tales of crime and detection. V.K. lives with his wife and son in Phoenix, Arizona. In the hours when he’s not writing or teaching, Mr. Scott has a client of one: his toddler son. Recent cases include the Caper of the Disappearing Keys, the Case of the Dirty Diaper, and the Mystery of What is that in Your Mouth? On his more demented days, V.K. also enjoys writing horror short stories and novellas.

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