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A Hamish Macbeth Mystery
By M. C. Beaton

Mysterious Press, February 2006
Hardcover ($23.95)
ISBN: 0892967897

Reviewed by Cherie Jung

It's hard to believe the author has written 21 Hamish Macbeth novels. Some are better than others, of course, and readers may not agree on which ones are the best but still, 21 novels in a series! Not bad.

For those of you unfamiliar with this series (are there any readers out there who haven't read at least one Hamish Macbeth novel?) Hamish is a constable in the Highland village of Lochdubh. He is adept at solving whatever crimes may come his way in this village, but he prefers that crime and criminals stay as far away from Lochdubh as possible. He seldom gets his wish. Although he will be the first to admit that he does need to solve a crime every now and then so his superiors don't close down his "office" and ship him off to somewhere more crime-ridden, at the same time, he has to be careful not to shine too brightly with his successful investigations lest his superiors transfer him to London, or some other equally awful city. Macbeth likes his life in the village and does all he can to maintain the status quo.

Constable Macbeth reasons that after a winter filled with blizzards, the romance of living in a highland village will have worn off for newcomer Effie Garrard, an artist who had recently taken up residence in an isolated cottage. When Effie is found dead on a hillside, the official ruling (from Macbeth's superiors) is suicide. Macbeth doubts their pronouncement. He suspects foul play. Then a clear-cut case of murder follows and Macbeth has his work cut out for him, as they say.

Although I sometimes become tired of the romantic entanglements and the will he or won't he aspect of Macbeth's love-life, for the most part, I do enjoy the stories and the characters. The author brings the Highlands and village life to the reader in such a clear way, that each book makes me want to pack up my belongings and move to Lochdubh.

M.C. Beaton is one of the few authors writing a long-term series that I still look forward to reading when each new book is published. I don't hesitate to purchase a hardcover copy because I always enjoy a "visit" with Macbeth (and I don't have the patience to wait until the paperback edition is released).

As an aside, or a warning...There is, or was, a BBC (British television) version of Hamish Macbeth shown in the states a couple of years ago. That series has recently been released on DVD. I haven't met anyone who likes the TV version who like the books. I'm not saying there isn't someone out there who enjoys both, but I haven't met them yet.

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