Blurb from Goodreads:
There are many ruined castles in Scotland. One such lies outside the village of Drim. Hamish begins to hear reports that this castle is haunted and lights have been seen there at night, but he assumes it’s some children or maybe the local lads going there to smoke pot, or, worse, inject themselves with drugs. Hamish says to his policeman, Charlie ‘Clumsy’ Carson, that they will both spend a night there.
The keening wind explains the ghostly noises, but when Charlie falls through the floor, Hamish finds the body of a dead man propped up in a corner of the cellar. After Charlie is airlifted to the hospital, Chief Detective Inspector Blair arrives to investigate the body, but there is none to be found. Dismissed as a drunk making up stories, Hamish has to find and identify the body and its killer before the “ghost” can strike again.
When the publisher invited me to review M.C. Beaton’s latest Hamish Macbeth mystery I thought “Why not?” In the 1980s I read the first five of the series and remembered them as light, entertaining, ‘cozy’ police procedural mysteries. Now, these many years later, the author has penned the 32nd novel featuring Hamish Macbeth and little has changed. I ask myself is that good or bad?
Macbeth is still on the ‘right side of forty’. He is still long, lanky, red-headed, and as unambitious as he ever was. His love of his remote Sutherland village, Lockdubh is still as true as ever. Detective Chief Inspector Blair is still the bane of Hamish’s life. He eschews female company after having his heart broken by the beautiful Priscilla whom I remember from those early novels and who is STILL in evidence in this one. He adores his menagerie of animals which includes his dogs, Lugs and Sally, his wildcat, Sonsie, and various hens, sheep, etc. He likes nothing better than taking his dogs and spending the day fishing in the loch.
The problem? Hamish Macbeth is clever. That cleverness combined with his Highland instinct/intuition ensures that he invariably solves all the crime that Lochdubh and the surrounding environs has to offer. He never takes credit for his crime solving though – in fear that he will be promoted out of his beloved village.
“It’s that great loon, Macbeth. He solves cases and lets someone else take the credit because he doesnae want to be promoted and lose his wee station in Lochdubh.”
And this is book #32! Some things never change. At times the characters were more like caricatures. Reading M.C. Beaton’s Hamish Macbeth is a bit like putting on an old pair of slippers that have the shape of your feet worn into them. Comfortable, but not exciting.
The writing was, as ever, entertaining. With many humorous scenes (crossing the line over into farce on several occasions), M.C. Beaton has found her niche and countless readers love her in it. On the other hand, I found that this ‘sameness’ was just “ho-hum”. I read the book through in its entirety, but I probably won’t read another in this series.
I realize I’m probably in the minority here, but although I can understand why M.C. Beaton is a best-selling novelist, I fear this series has ‘run its course’.
Here are a few Scottish slang words that I found (and enjoyed) in this novel:
drookit (adj.) – extremely wet, drenched, soaked with rain
stramash (n.) – an uproar, disturbance, racket
scunner (n.) – a strong dislike, irritating dislike
M.C. Beaton (a.k.a.Marion Chesney) was born in Glasgow, Scotland.
She began her writing career by authoring Regency romances. After she had written close to 100, and had gotten fed up with the 1811 to 1820 period, she began to write detective stories under the pseudonym of M. C. Beaton.
She is the prolific author of the best-selling Agatha Raisin mysteries (set in the Cotswolds) and the Hamish Macbeth mysteries (set in Scotland)