A Hamish Macbeth Mystery (#28)

By M. C. Beaton

Grand Central Publishing, March 26, 2013 ($23.99)

ISBN-13: 978-1-4555-0476-3

Reviewed by Cherie Jung

Sergeant Hamish Macbeth's routine in the Scottish Highlands is once again disrupted by murder. By now, one might expect there to be a shortage of potential victims in the villages he patrols, but not so; at least not yet. There are still plenty of possibilities for criminal behavior in Lochdubh and Cnothan; enough to keep Macbeth busier than he'd like to be, that's for sure. There are always a few villagers who are disliked by the others or folks new to the villages for the pool of potential victims. In this instance, a crime is reported to Macbeth by a young woman whose body is later discovered in a dumpster.

This long-running series has been uneven lately, but to be fair, it would be extremely difficult for almost any author to turn out nearly 30 books in a series and each one be as good as, or better, than the one before.

I think this book, DEATH OF YESTERDAY, will draw longtime readers in one extreme direction or the other. They will either love it or hate it. Not too many will fall in between. One of the hallmarks of a successful, long-running series is that the author gives faithful readers what they crave, 200-some pages reuniting the reader with cherished characters. It's like going for a weekend visit with friends. There's a comfortable sameness shared with each other; author, characters, and readers. However, this familiarity can also turn off readers. If the plots are too predictable, or the characters too unchanging and static, some readers may feel cheated. Or a particular, oft repeated plot point may drive a reader to exasperation. For me, the will he or won't he settle down with any woman or will he forever moan about the one who got away (Priscilla) drama is worse than a badly written romance novel. Enough, already!

I miss the Hamish Macbeth, local constable in a small Scottish village, of decades ago.

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