Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Death of a Gossip

Death of a Gossip. A Hamish Macbeth Murder Mystery. M.C. Beaton. 1985/2008. Robinson. 210 pages.

'I hate the start of the week,' said John Cartwright fretfully. 'Beginning with a new group. It's rather like going on stage. Then I always feel I have to apologize for being English. People who travel up here to the wilds of Scotland expect to be instructed by some great hairy Rob Roy, making jokes about saxpence and saying it's a braw bricht moonlicht nicht and lang may your lum reek and ghastly things like that.'

John and his wife, Heather, own a fishing school in Lochdubh. When the novel opens, they are preparing to welcome this week's clients: Marvin and Amy Roth, Lady Jane Winters, Jeremy Blythe, Alice Wilson, Charlie Baxter, Major Peter Frame, and Daphne Gore. From the start, things don't go well. Lady Jane Winters is as rude as can be. She deliberately sets out to annoy and aggravate everyone she encounters. It isn't too long before the others start talking about her. More than one person wishes Lady Jane was dead. More than one threatens to kill her. Still, it is somewhat of a shock when Lady Jane ends up being the catch of the day. One of them fishing her body from the lake--she was strangled and wrapped in chains.

There is a local constable, Hamish Macbeth. And he's delightfully eccentric. But he's not "big enough" to solve a murder...or is he? Officially, he is off the case. A team of detectives, led by Blair, has arrived and are ready to handle this one. They've begun interviewing everyone, and begun examining the evidence. Though he didn't want to solve the murder before Chief Inspector Blair told him not to get in the way of the case, he does now. Can Macbeth piece together the clues before Blair does?

We learn a little about each of the characters with special attention to Alice Wilson and Jeremy Blythe. Two strangers who are drawn together even before this murder investigation begins. But what is love for Alice, is just a meaningless fling for Jeremy. Fortunately, Hamish is there for Alice whether she wants his advice or not.

I NEVER thought I would read a book (voluntarily) about fishing. Then again, before this year, I never thought I would read a mystery. I liked this one. I didn't quite love it. I liked Hamish well enough. And I think this series might have potential. The characters just weren't quite as developed as I would have liked. (Though I know not every character can be equally developed.) I did enjoy the Scottish setting.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


BookChook said...

Here in Australia, we get Hamish Macbeth as a TV show. I will look out for the books.

I think successful crime or mystery writers, well, any writers probably, are those that build a world we can immerse ourselves in. One British writer I thought did this very well was Gerald Hammond. His heroes were involved in shooting. I would never have thought I would grow to love the books, but I did/do.

fourth musketeer said...

These are especially fun on audiobook if you're an audiobook fan. YOu get all the really good Scottish accents--I think I've listened to just about all the books in the series. Hamish gets to be a sort of friend after so many books!