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4.3 out of 5 stars78
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 8 August 2012
The focus of this series of novels has always been on village life with its eccentric characters.The engaging personality of Hamish Macbeth as he solves cases,avoids promotion and fights off the ladies (well,sometimes)has kept me reading these novels even when the quality of the writing wavers.Unfortunately,these elements that ensured the longevity of the series are missing in this book-the villagers only have walk-on parts and Hamish has lost his spark,becoming very unpleasant in the process.The plot is peculiar:it starts off in a recognisable way with trouble at Lochdubh,but then escalates unbelievably into a rapidly sketched story involving psychopaths and Russian gangsters and a great deal of violence.I think I read these now because I was hooked on the earlier novels,but there has been a sharp downward curve in quality.Not recommended at all.
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on 20 March 2012
As a big fan of the Hamish Macbeth series, I am always happy to see a new mystery appear and never want the series to end. This latest story suggests it may well be time for Beaton to leave Hamish and Loch Dubh in peace though. The book reads as if she has dictated it hurriedly and with no enthusiasm. The same characters appear as always which is nice but a change or two would be good and a bit more believable.

Credibility is the biggest issue here along with the rushed plot that conveniently skips forward all the time to ensure there's less writing to be done. the clever but unlikely plots of earlier books is replaced with lazy and totally unbelievable brutality. The plot isn't credible and the ending is dissatisfying and unresolved. It's a sad thing to say but Beaton's writing now seems tired and if US reviewers really do think she's up to date with life in Scotland then a trip to the UK is in order.
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on 1 May 2012
Ive read all of M C Beatons books and I was eagerly looking forward to a new one, however right from the start it didnt flow as well as the others. Like another reviewer it seemed rushed and it just wasnt the same standard as the rest. I have noticed her books dont seem to be as good as they used to be, whether it be about Hamish or Agatha.
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on 2 May 2012
Marion Chesney's first novel was published around 33 years ago, and a further hundred or so novels have appeared since then. Just over half of these were written under the nom-de-plume 'M C Beaton', all but one featuring either the Cotswold investigations of the unlikely-named Agatha Raisin or the adventures of PC (now Sergeant) Hamish Macbeth in the small fictional town of Lochdubh, located somewhere in the north-western wilderness of the former County of Sutherland.

If you are new to the Hamish Macbeth books, you may be influenced by memories of the TV series broadcast in the mid 1990s, which did much to launch the career of actor Robert Carlyle. Although the 20 episodes were both successful and enjoyable, it's as well to put them out of your mind, as apart from the name of a handful of lead characters and the principal location (Lochdubh) there was little to connect the plotlines and character development of the TV series with any of the ten or eleven HM books published at the time it was filmed. The Lochdubh of the books is a small town, clearly somewhat bigger than the village of Plockton where the series was filmed, and Hamish himself is tall, thin and red-haired - a sort of emaciated Rob Roy McGregor - and cannot be readily reconciled with the dashing, dark-haired hero of the small screen.

'Death of a Kingfisher' is the 28th book in the series; the first appeared in 1985, so the average ia almost exactly one novel a year. This time, the recession is biting in rural Sutherland just as much as in the rest of Europe. Tourism is a very important part of the local economy, and the small nearby town of Braikie is determined to make the most of its limited assets. North West Sutherland is exposed to the fiercest Atlantic gales, but possesses a few sheltered glens where the Gulf Stream weaves its magic, creating almost sub-tropical enclaves in the midst of the surrounding desolation. Buchan's Wood, half-a-dozen miles from Braikie, is one such gem and, better still, it is in the care of the local Council. Quickly re-invented as 'The Fairy Glen', the sylvan delights of this oasis of exotic shrubs and burgeoning fuchsia is soon a popular and hightly profitable tour destination, not the least of its attractions being a family of Kingfishers nesting by a pool in the centre of the wood. But one morning the male Kingfisher is found dead, hanging by a thin cord from a willow tree. It isn't long before death casts its shadow over the human population....

The Hamish Macbeth series belongs firmly within the 'cosy puzzle' sub-genre of detective fiction. It has no connection with the gritty world of police procedurals populated by John Rebus or Charlie Resnick, still less with the bleak Aberdeen landscape of DS Logan McRae. Many - perhaps most - of the novels fill their dedicated niche extremely well. Unfortunately, this isn't one of them. A constant problem when writing reviews for Amazon is the need to avoid disclosing more than the minimum of plot detail needed to give an overall flavour of the novel; the reviews are primarily intended to help those who are considering buying the book. That's a problem I face now; I don't want to spoil the enjoyment of those who will buy the book regardless of my comments -and Hamish has a huge following, almost all of whom are likely to do precisely that. I freely accept that in the world of the cosy puzzle, strict attention to realism should not be expected, and where the narrative embraces humour, as it does in this series, even credibility may become less important, but 'Death of a Kingfisher' is not so much a cosy puzzle as a caricature of a cosy puzzle. The plotting is at times so loose as to become virtually incoherent; improbability abounds and the narrative repeatedly strays into the realms of fantasy. In short, the novel is poorly written and shows no evidence of competent editing.

Despite all this, I like Hamish Macbeth very much. I can even swallow the fact that although the background of the novels keeps pace with contemporary society, Hamish remains in his early thirties despite having had a 27-year career in the police force. If you are new to the Hamish Macbeth series, DON'T start with this one - it may discourage you from reading any further. Start with one of the early novels; some of them are good enough to get you hooked for life! If, like me, you're already hooked, don't expect much from this outing. Sadly, it seems that the author is willing to sacrifice quality in order to maintain quantity. Perhaps Hamish's halcyon days have drawn to a close.
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on 11 June 2012
... that it was me, who is getting bored with Mrs. Beatons books. But then my husband read this one, too, and he wasnt too much taken in by it either. Somehow she seems to get bored with her own creations. Is she putting a "knitting pattern" in front of her when she is starting to write a new book? One cant help thinking of the old Little Britain sketch where Dame Markham is dictating to her secretary " Yes, I will marry you, I will, I will, I will. Howe many pages? 12. Do you know the bible...." My Husband and I have been reading her books for many years, but have found the last couple of new ones rather mediocre and a far cry from interesting. Will we keep on reading them... we dont quite know yet. I am sure she will make enough money without us as fans.
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on 10 June 2012
I have been reading the MacBeth and Raisin books for about 8 years. I have managed to gather them all and have read all of them.
They have always meant a pleasant afternoon's easy reading of the latest adventures.
However this latest Hamish Macbeth hasn't exactly lost the plot - it simply has too many unlikely plots and far too many unlikely characters - to the point I had to re-read pages to make sure I was following the thread. It was as if there wasn't really a plot to start with - and the story meanders to a ridiculous conclusion.
It's a huge disappointment.

This happened in the last Agatha Raisin too - and like the last Agatha book - there was a long meandering and unlikely epilogue about characters that are nothing to do with the main character, Hamish.
I found myself losing patience with Hamish with and his snappy attitude to his constable - and with the previous love interests.
He seems to blame them for his failure - and it's always been HIS failure in the relationships.
For the first time Hamish seemed weak, snappy and churlish. Please give us back out old Hamish - or have his station closed and he move in with the Currie twins.

Hamish is better when he's like Lochdubh - simple and straightforward.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 16 January 2014
I have read all the Hamish MacBeth books up to this one and this is the worst I have read. A kingfisher and his family are murdered followed by a grumpy old lady who lived nearby. I don't want to spoil the book for others so I'm not going in to detail but I didn't understand the foreign parts of the plot and I felt the normal humour was missing. I do not recommend this book as a starting point for the series - try almost any other one before this to get a real feeling for the series.
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on 21 August 2012
I have been a fan of Hamish for many years. I was lucky, I started reading this series late so I was able to keep moving on to the next one as soon as I finished the last. I was never dissapointed. Yes, I have favourites, but the rest were just as enjoyable to read.
Sadly this latest outing for Hamish is a disaster and I am choosing my words very carefully here. In fact, it is probably very wrong of me to write a review without finishing the book, but as I have no intention of picking it up again you will have to accept this as my only review. I was bored, I cannot say that because it went too slowly, in fact it goes along quickly, far too quickly but without actually telling you anything important. Full conversations are few and far between. The dialogue is clipped and abrupt. Meaningless situations have been entered as if to just fill the pages, which would be acceptable if the actual plot or storyline ran throughout at the same time but it does not.
I am very sad because I have never ever put down one of my Hamish books and then could not be bothered to lift it again. Never. I dont think I will ever buy another one because it will spoil my enjopyment of all previous books which I will read again.
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on 23 November 2015
I like Hamish very much and I enjoyed this story up to the point when it suddenly got very, very silly and a Russian villian appeared. Beaton must have got bored or written herself into a corner. The sentences become stacatto and the narrative rushed. The two ghastly brats could not possibly have got into those situations, even with the most inept police and social services. Spoilt ending I'm afraid.
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on 19 January 2016
I bought this book off Better World books they advertised it as Very Good condition, it had a plastic cover over it which was in average state but the book itself was atrocious when I opened it pages fell out yellow in colour and it was so smoke absorbed It affected my asthma, It went straight in the bin so I cannot tell you what it was like to read.
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