Give three cheers and one cheer more! The series is back on form. Reasons abound why this ninth entry works so well. Throughout, its construction is firm. No creakingly contrived importing of imminent victim and suspects. Instead we are well and truly in Lochdubh and amongst its inhabitants, the area itself described with considerable affection. Plot developments also allow greater depth and scope. Hamish Macbeth is at last a sergeant - the policehouse shared with young PC Willie Lamont, he with a fetish for cleaning and malapropisms (an aunt lives "in a condom in San Francisco"). Their edgy relationship makes hilarious reading.
Sean Gourlay, greeneyed and glib, is the traveller - Hamish instantly wary but the villagers charmed. Sean's companion, foulmouthed Cheryl Higgins, is less appealing. Gradually Lochdubh begins to change - things go missing, residents become edgy and forever squabble. Hamish is convinced evil lurks in their midst, his feelings mixed when Sean is found dead with face and head smashed to pulp.
The culprit, of course, has to be found - but can Hamish achieve this whilst trying to protect the neighbours living in fear because of recent indiscretions? His friend Priscilla has an important part to play....
The novel has heart, warmth and humour. It benefits enormously by concentrating more on Hamish himself - including his saving a boy from a swollen river and risking his life amidst snow in a mountain rescue. Yes, there is much that greatly appeals - not least a conclusion that should delight addicts.