Now that Priscilla Halburton-Smythe has agreed to marry him, Police Sergeant Hamish Macbeth can't imagine a more perfect life. There's not much crime in his remote Scottish village of Lochdubh, nothing much at all to do but fish, drink coffee, and slouch around. And now to spend time with lovely Priscilla. But his days aren't as tranquil as his dreams. For one thing, Priscilla's renovation schemes are driving him out of his cottage. Not to mention her ambitious plans for his career as a policeman away from Lochdubh.
This might be a good time to find out why Peter Hynd's arrival in nearby Drim was causing so much trouble. An attractive, unmarried man with an independent income would always attract attention in such a small place. But this time Hynd's arrival seems to have caused bitter rivalry among the women of Drim. Hamish finds their petty fights amusing and a clever excuse to avoid Priscilla and her schemes for a new electric stove (to replace his beloved woodburning appliance), a posh new bathroom, and virtuous nutrition. Amusing, that is, until death threats, physical abuse, and murder make statistical history in one of Scotland's most picture postcard-perfect towns.
M. C. Beaton worked as a Fleet Street journalist. She is the author of the Agatha Raisin novels, the Hamish Macbeth series, and an Edwardian murder-mystery series. She divides her time between Paris and the Cotswolds, where she lives in a village very much like Agatha Raisin's beloved Carsely.
©2008 MC Beaton (P)2013 Audible Ltd
"The detective novels of M. C. Beaton, a master of outrageous black comedy, have reached cult status." (Anne Robinson, The Times)
These stories are replete with people lacking in insight, and regularly drained of the milk of human kindness, but have the advantages of avoiding excessive horror, only murdering unpleasant people (never children, or random innocents).
Maybe it's the climate of Sutherland, or a hereditary/cultural Celtic aversion to early sexual relationships, late marriage having once been essential for economic reasons, but almost any incomer with a more relaxed attitude towards physical contact can disrupt wee village societies.
Life in Sutherland seems to be governed by extremes: weather, winter of almost perpetual darkness, summer never dark: women either wear silly shoes, "sheer black stockings", extra-short skirts and plunging necklines, or tweed everything (even knickers) possibly more appropriate for the climate most of the year.
Men are either teetotal or drink to excess (more often), married women are supposed to stay at home cleaning stuff, happy marriages are impossible, mutual toleration is best anyone can hope for, children are unloved, and Hamish or anyone else who could show any smeddum ought to move to Edinburgh, or Perth, or Stirling, or Aberdeen.
The author doesn't seem to have much respect for humanity, but perhaps it's easier to sell books which pander to the vanity of all of us, which allow us to feel superior.
Hamish MacBeth stories are all good reads/listens - not too demanding but keeping my interest right to the end. The charming man of the title is thoroughly unpleasant and the Highlands are well rid of him. As always there is a sub plot of the relationship between Priscilla and Hamish and in this story she becomes a definite ally in the investigation and, like Hamish, I longed for her to be so much more than that!
Hamish is a great policeman who manages to be both gamekeeper and poacher but he is trusted by most of the characters in his beloved Lochdubh. His relationship with Priscilla and with his irascible (London journalist) cousin is developed further.
David Monteith's voice is essential to the stories for me and indeed I bought the alternative reading in error but quickly returned it in disappointment. His gentle Scots accent adds to the atmosphere.
The discovery of "the body" and its subsequent identification is a wonderful twist which has a real touch of M C Beaton humour
Altogether this is a gentle story, not great literature, but a a couple of evenings pleasant listening.
Nice gentle voice, believable.
Where's the murder!
Fun. Couldnt wait to get back to it. Glad it was a wee bitty longer than the first ones.
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