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DEATH OF A BORE:
A Hamish Macbeth Mystery


By M. C. BEATON

Mysterious Press/Warner Books, February 2005 ($23.95)
ISBN: 0-89296-795-1

Reviewed by Cherie Jung

For those who like their mysteries cozy...you can't get much more cozy than the northern Scottish village of Lochdubh in mid-winter. In the past, the villagers would venture out for various get-togethers despite the harsh weather but now, with television and videos, they are more inclined to stay in. This is Constable Hamish Macbeth's turf. He's in the odd position of being an intelligent cop but one who prefers the solitude of the highlands. He tries to keep a low profile and keep order in his district. Unfortunately, every time he solves a major case, his superiors want to pack him off to the city.

Trouble comes to Lochdubh this time in the form of one John Heppel, self-proclaimed "famous writer." Over a dozen residents have signed up for a writing class to be taught by Heppel. Things don't go smoothly from the first class meeting. Heppel is more interested in himself, and publicity, than in imparting any writing tips to the eager attendees. By the end of the second class, the students want their money back. So far, all Heppel has done is talk about himself, and make rude comments about each student's writing ability or lack thereof.

Macbeth's attempts to warn Heppel about his mocking behavior go unheeded. The villagers take matters into their own hands, in full view of TV cameras. The next thing Macbeth knows, Heppel is dead. There is a suicide note but murder is more likely.

Is someone from the village a murderer? Macbeth hopes not, but he won't know for sure until he solves the crime.

This is the twentieth novel in the Hamish Macbeth series. I've missed reading a few of them, but not many. I like the characters and the setting. For those readers who are unfamiliar with Hamish Macbeth, DEATH OF A BORE is as good a starting point as any, unless you're one of those readers who prefer to read a series in chronological order. The author provides ample detail about people and places that have come before so a reader new to the series won't flounder. In no time at all, the new reader will be able to sort out Elspeth (the most recent girlfriend that he didn't ask to marry him) and Priscilla (the love of his life that he didn't marry), Towser (the old dog) and Lugs (the new dog) and Sonsie (the cat).

BBC and BBCAmerica have aired several episodes based on the Hamish Macbeth novels. If you would like to read a review of the TV series, please click here. As a side note, since I wrote the review of the TV program, I enjoy the novels, but not the TV series.

M. C. Beaton is also the author of the Agatha Raisin series.

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