Author: M.C. Beaton
In all his bumbling and angst of change and romance, Hamish Macbeth is one of my favorite detectives (Police Sergeant in Highland terms), although he lives in an inordinately remote village in Scotland called Lochdubh with his frantically neurotic cat Sonsie and dog Lugs. Hamish is so vulnerable and vain, idiotic and brilliant, unassuming and perspicacious that I cannot help but await each mystery novel with baited breath! M.C. Beaton has long been a favorite for her quirky real characters that ooze bagpipes and vanity. Agatha Raisin, her other detective character in another series is also one of my favorite characters. The Scottish Highlands are full of flavor, heather, winds and rain, and remote isolation and all are made more potent when Hamish is on the hunt for a murderer and a girlfriend. The beauty of M.C. Beaton occurs in her collage of misfits and Scottish bairds, and the quirky but alluring Hamish himself. Each mystery colludes with an assortment of strange townspeople, the community itself part of the plot. If you read one you have to read the entire series!
Hamish has a new detective at his side named Dick Fraser, although Hamish resents Dick’s intrusion into his quiet home above the police station. Dick would rather cook than crime, as he readily admits. Add in one Detective Chief Inspector Blair, Hamish’s immediate boss who hates Hamish and Inspector Daviot, the head of the police who allows Blair to push him around into keeping Blair on the force, Priscilla Halburton-Smythe and Elspeth, both former fiancés of the oh so hard to pin down Hamish and murder has never been so entertaining. When the phone rings on a quiet, peaceful day in the Highlands, Hamish reluctantly answers it. A woman named Liz Bentley in the outer village of Cromish is calling to say she has been raped. Hamish and Dick jump into the Land Rover only to find that Liz is a pathological liar who is crying wolf, which is confirmed by the Cromish doctor, Dr. Williams. In fact, the townspeople of Cromish are entirely fed up with Liz and her lies to get attention. Hamish tells Liz off, and he and Dick head back on the long drive home.
Simultaneously, the following week the old schoolhouse is bought by a new English couple, Frank and Bessie Leigh. Since not much happens in Lochdubh, Hamish and Dick knock on their door to welcome them to the village. When Bessie Leigh opens the door she is very rude and Hamish and Dick make a fast retreat. They discover Frank, her husband is a nasty alcoholic and as far as Hamish is concerned, they are bad news.
When Liz Bentley phones Hamish one night and screams she is being murdered, Hamish hangs up. Another lie, he figures. But when he and Dick go to check on Liz the next day, they find Liz murdered and Frank Leigh stuffed into a car trunk. Two murders in sleepy Lockdubh? As Blair and Daviot call in the troops, Hamish and Dick go off on their own to figure out the murder.
As various and sundry villains, crooked ministers, a strange Frenchman courting Priscilla and drug dealers enter the plot, we are hard pressed to figure out the alluring twists and counterplots. Each character steals your heart or makes you hate them, and with a talent known only to Beaton, we run not walk following Hamish perform his magic.
Mesmerizing, funny, stand on your head convoluted, The Death of a Liar marks one more splendid addition to M.C. Beaton’s beloved series with Hamish saving the day – and staying single. Absolutely one of the best writers out there, if you have not become acquainted with M.C. Beaton, start now! You will soon become an addict, like me. I can’t put any of her books down until I finish!!!!
Ratings are based on a 5-star scale
Review by Broad “A”
We received a copy of this title for our book review. All opinions are our own
Death of a Liar (A Hamish Macbeth Mystery) is available on Amazon.com as well as booksellers nationwide.