From the book jacket: Most newcomers don't stay long in remote Lochdubh. They arrive filled with romantic notions of life in northern
Scotland until boredom, dampness, and nosy villagers send them running
back to civilization. Hamish Macbeth is surprised when artist Effie
Garrard sticks it out through the winter, especially since her cottage
is so far up in the hills that it might take weeks before anyone would
know if something happened to her.
By spring Macbeth fears something has. He takes his Land Rover out to check on her, and for once his uncanny sixth sense is wrong! Effie is fine - if being a dreamer and a little odd don't count. That problem off his mind, Macbeth's attention turns closer to home. His old flame Priscilla Halburton-Smythe has returned to Lochdubh for a long visit, not that Macbeth still cares. And a landscape painter, up from Glasgow, is charming all the ladies in the area, including the elderly twins Nessie and Jessie Currie. Macbeth's famous intuition tells him trouble is in the air. And this time Macbeth is spot-on.
Effie Garrard is found dead, an apparent suicide. Although his superiors close the case, Macbeth feels in his bones it is murder. Worse, things begin going haywire in his own life. Another of his old girlfriends turns up in Lochdubh, his heart is being tugged toward an unwise passion, and he may be dreaming too much himself. Distracted by his personal affairs, Macbeth may not see an evil that's getting too close to him or a ruthless killer whose violence will give everyone nightmares.
Comment: The prolific M.C. Beaton's 22nd novel in the Hamish Macbeth series is one part cozy, one part police procedural and one part psychological thriller - and really rather good! As I mentioned in reference to Dana Stabenow's new book (under hardcovers), the nature of series are that, however long they might have been running, there are almost always far more people who have yet to discover a particular author than have already read him or her. Thus, it seemed about time to add one of M.C. Beaton's works to BookBrowse!
Police Constable Macbeth ably keeps the peace in the small Scottish community of Lochdubh (black loch in Gaelic) despite the alarmingly high body count that's been notched up over the years. He does things his own way without an undue reliance on the law, with the ultimate aim of avoiding being promoted out of what he sees as his ideal job. In this episode an artistic newcomer is found dead of an apparent suicide; Macbeth's nose smells foul play but the chain of command says otherwise. Then an American tourist is found definitely murdered, with no possibility of suicide, and Macbeth senses a connection, but what can it be? Meanwhile he is distracted by the arrival of two old-flames in the tiny village. The plot thickens to a satisfying conclusion with regard to the murders but leaves threads of Macbeth's personal life to be picked up in the next installment, Death of a Maid, which will be published simultaneously in the USA and UK this February (2007).
Incidentally, one reviewer says that this is the 21st book in the series, another says it's the 23rd. When in doubt I full back on the remarkably reliable fantasticfiction which lists a full bibliography with this as the 22nd book.
This review was originally published in February 2006, and has been updated for the January 2007 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.
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