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4.3 out of 5 stars41
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 4 March 2009
First published in 1988, the third of Marion Chesney's (writing as M.C.Beaton) Hamish Macbeth Mysteries (following 'Death of a Gossip' and 'Death of a Cad' - 'Death of a Perfect Wife' follows in the sequence). And an excellent little whodunnit this is. Chesney is a very skilled writer - she writes under a number of pseudonyms and has written romance as well as mystery - and she varies her style and 'voice' very professionally (you can contrast her Agatha Raisin series, something of an ironic and acerbic take on Miss Marple, with her Hamish Macbeth - the characterisation, the style, the dynamic of the books is radically different ... and Hamish bears no comparison with Poirrot).

Here we have Hamish wheeched away from Lochdubh and sent to the even more remote Cnothan to cover the prolonged holiday taken by its established policeman. Hamish is not going to be welcomed with open arms, but he has the wit and charm to warm the locals to him. He does not have the means, however, to warm to the demands of a particularly obnoxious white settler, an objectionable English incomer who has managed to alienate the whole village and most of the surrounding countryside. Should this man meet a suspicious end, there will be no end of suspects. And, of course, like Poirrot, wherever Hamish goes, murder most foul is certain to be his travelling companion.

It's a very nicely written mystery, lovely characterisation, witty, well paced, a real page turner. Marion Chesney writes very entertaining stories - real curl up in bed or in front of a decent fire jobs - and this is one of her best. Hamish is an endearing character - he's not a genius, but his little grey cells do get there eventually, and he has excellent social skills, if alarming social graces. There are some neat little swipes at the English (well, Home Counties), and some tongue-in-cheek asides about Highland lifestyle, so it will keep you amused as well as engaged. Very good read.
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Hamish Macbeth's third murder mystery, and easily the best so far. Here he is very much centre stage, without the previous two novels' dated contrivances to create a setting for victims and suspects.

We join him disgruntled, he and mongrel Towser forced for three months to leave his beloved Lochdubh to replace a sergeant in cheerless Cnothan, a town dominated by Struthers, its hellfire Minister.

The most unpopular person around is Mainwaring, still regarded as an outsider although he has lived there eight years. An officious busybody and know-all, he relishes alienating everybody in sight. How the outsider becomes an insider (in every sense of the word) makes a deliciously macabre read - circumstances best not known, though, by London's elite.

Enjoying much coffee and gossip (not to mention the charms of neighbour Jenny), Hamish solves all. Though by nature easy-going, he is a force to be reckoned with. Witness his instant revenge on the ghillie and crony who play a cruel joke. Even Blair, his blustering bully of a boss, has occasion to be wary.

With allegations of witchcraft, a skeleton found inside a ring of standing stones, this book throughout is a quirky delight - Hamish himself its greatest pleasure. There is something enormously appealing about a policeman who, when happy, secretly performs cartwheels.
0Comment4 of 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
In this third book in this cozy mystery series, Constable Hamish Macbeth, along with his dog, Towser, is parted from his beloved village of Lochdubh, when he is temporarily transferred to the village of Cnothan for several months to cover for a fellow officer who is on an extended vacation.

Unhappy at this turn of events, Hamish tries to make the best of it, though the villagers are far from friendly. Things start looking up for Hamish, when he catches the eye of Jenny, a pretty young local artist. She helps Hamish take his mind off Priscilla Halburton-Smythe, who has taken off for London. Then, a murder takes place, and Hamish is firmly in his element, despite obstacles thrust in his way by none other than Deputy Chief Inspector Blair.

Laced with sly humor and engaging characters, this series gets better with each book. As with all cozy mysteries, it is not so much the mystery that is of import but the characters that revolve around the mystery. While the mysteries are intriguing, they are the framework around which the characters evolve. In the endearing character of Hamish Macbeth, the author, a born storyteller, has created a sure fire winner, who is bound to win many fans of the cozy mystery genre.
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With a series that requires a murder for each story, a small town like Lochdubh can find itself quickly depopulated by that plot requirement. Fortunately for the fictional residents, M.C. Beaton sends Hamish Macbeth off for a fill-in assignment in the Highland town of Cnothan so that town can be depopulated instead.

Hamish isn't happy to learn that he's off to Cnothan. The residents there are more taciturn and unfriendly than most Highlanders. What's more, he'll be away from Priscilla Hallburton-Smythe the whole time.

The assignment is soon off to a rocky start when it turns out to be difficult to find the police station in Cnothan. What's more, Hamish is replacing a family that doesn't really want him in their home.

But Hamish rouses himself when he discovers that one of his new neighbors is a friendly, unattached Canadian woman. But his job doesn't look promising since he doesn't even know where he's supposed to be patrolling. The locals decide that Hamish may have a yen for other men, which sets up some good humor. But some of the humor is at Hamish's expense as he's called out to investigate a mysterious body.

Later, the town drunk has a close encounter with a corpse that causes great problems for all of the police.

You'll enjoy seeing Hamish operate in new surroundings, with many new challenges to overcome.

The motive for the murder is unusually obscure. If you can spot it . . . and the murderer, you're a lot sharper than I am. I thought that the premise for the murder was so obscure as to be a negative and graded the book down accordingly. I don't think our author played fair with us in this story.

But you'll find lots of chuckles . . . and food for thought the next time you dine on lobster.

Enjoy!
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on 29 February 2012
Policeman Hamish Macbeth is pulled away from his beloved Lochdubh in the Scottish Highlands to the dark village of Cnothan, where undercurrents run faster and deadlier than any native river. It isn't long before he's come up against the local Sassenach outsider, William Mainwaring, and not long after that he's dealing with his death. In his short time here, Hamish has already learnt Mainwaring was the type to collect enemies like a jam jar does wasps, but had he ever stirred up enough to incite murder? It seems that once again, Hamish must go against the tortoise shell-like investigation techniques of his superior and nemesis Blair to solve this crime, as well as discover a missing drunkard, head of the suspect list...

To me, Hamish Macbeth is a little like the early male version of Agatha Raisin, of which books I've read a fair few; they each have certain characteristics that can get a little irritating after a while, the way they're portrayed. And having never seen the programme version, which seemed to endear itself to millions, I couldn't warm to this series, though I tried to read a couple of them.
However, this particular story was much more readable, in my opinion, with a fast pace, sufficient puzzles to keep you turning pages and just the right mix of romance, mystery and real life to make it a good read. On the strength of this, I may try another...
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on 23 April 2011
Hamish Macbeth is sent to nearby Cnothan to stand in for Sergeant McGregor who is going away on an extended holiday. Hamish is miserable because the people in Cnothan are miserable but the attractive Jenny Lovelace, an artist, seems quite interested in him which cheers him up. Then a skeleton is found on the moor nearby and Hamish has a mystery to solve.

Rather a lot of the locals seem to have a motive for disposing of the owner of the skeleton when he is eventually identified as he is an outsider and an Englishman to boot. As ever Hamish's boss, the obnoxious Blair, is determined to keep Hamish out of the limelight. This is an intriguing story with many suspects - not least the lobsters at the nearby fish farm - and some witchy elements which may or may not be a red herring.

I enjoyed this story and completely failed to identify the murderer and the motive. The characters as ever are varied and interesting and the touches of humour raise the book out of the ordinary run of cosy crime fiction. If you like Agatha Raisin by the same author then give Hamish Macbeth a go.
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on 14 May 2014
In this 3rd Hamish Macbeth murder mystery, Hamish is told to temporarily relocate to the nearby village of Cnothan to cover the police station there whilst the resident police sergeant takes a 3 month holiday in Florida. Wanting a quiet time himself, Hamish and his dog Towser settle down in the sergeant's house. Before long the doorbell is ringing with claims of witchcraft and covens operating in the village. Hoping that the culprits will be quickly caught, Hamish sets about trying to befriend the locals only to realise that outsiders are not very welcome in Cnothan. Hamish is therefore not surprised when a particularly obnoxious outsider is found dead. Nearly everyone in the village has a reason to want this person dead so Hamish's enquiries are far from simple. Once again Detective Chief Inspector Blair and Detectives Anderson and McNab of Strathbane police make an appearance to help Hamish solve the crime. However, as always, Hamish is keen to solve the crime on his own.
An enjoyable book with well created and likeable characters, "Death of an Outsider" is the perfect book to curl up with after a hard day and really enjoy.
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on 19 November 2012
This is the third Hamish in the series and a good one at that. In this story there is a ficticious village in the Highlands called Cnothan that is far from the ideal village. It is full of rude and anti-social ignorant villagers who shun newcomers (especially English) and are most unapproachable people. It is not a very picturesque village that would make you want to visit which Hamish has been seconded to (and absolutely hates) whilst covering for the local bobby who's on holiday.

Here is Mr Mainwaring, an Englishman who takes it upon himself to interfere in other people's lives by offering his opinion, telling people what to do and basically being obnoxious. Well you can imagine why he becomes a murder victim. Lots of possible suspects and not necessarily easy to spot the murderer until it is unveiled to you by Hamish who again managed to steal his Boss Blair's thunder.

Very good book where you find that not all Scottish Highland villages are ideal.
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on 16 July 2014
I've been reading these in order, so this is the third of the series.
This was my favourite so far; whether this is because I know the characters a little more or just because the plot is an especially good one with some nice twists along the way, I'm not sure - I think it's the latter.
In this book Hamish is forced to cover for a policeman in another area, Cnothan, a place where you're the new arrival for many years, and without many friendly faces. It works well, and could easily be read in its own right without having read the prior two books in the series. Another gentle and easy read, but a page turner to boot - a perfect relaxation novel.
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With a series that requires a murder for each story, a small town like Lochdubh can find itself quickly depopulated by that plot requirement. Fortunately for the fictional residents, M.C. Beaton sends Hamish Macbeth off for a fill-in assignment in the Highland town of Cnothan so that town can be depopulated instead.

Hamish isn't happy to learn that he's off to Cnothan. The residents there are more taciturn and unfriendly than most Highlanders. What's more, he'll be away from Priscilla Hallburton-Smythe the whole time.

The assignment is soon off to a rocky start when it turns out to be difficult to find the police station in Cnothan. What's more, Hamish is replacing a family that doesn't really want him in their home.

But Hamish rouses himself when he discovers that one of his new neighbors is a friendly, unattached Canadian woman. But his job doesn't look promising since he doesn't even know where he's supposed to be patrolling. The locals decide that Hamish may have a yen for other men, which sets up some good humor. But some of the humor is at Hamish's expense as he's called out to investigate a mysterious body.

Later, the town drunk has a close encounter with a corpse that causes great problems for all of the police.

You'll enjoy seeing Hamish operate in new surroundings, with many new challenges to overcome.

The motive for the murder is unusually obscure. If you can spot it . . . and the murderer, you're a lot sharper than I am. I thought that the premise for the murder was so obscure as to be a negative and graded the book down accordingly. I don't think our author played fair with us in this story.

But you'll find lots of chuckles . . . and food for thought the next time you dine on lobster.

Enjoy!
0Comment3 of 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

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