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Death of a Travelling Man is the ninth novel in the Hamish Macbeth series of comic mysteries by M.C. Beaton. Before describing the book, I strongly urge you to not start your reading of the series with this book. The subjects in this book reflect important transitions in the series, and you won't find the book nearly as entertaining as a standalone novel rather than a continuation. Stop reading here if you haven't read the earlier books!

At the end of Death of a Glutton, Police Constable Hamish Macbeth was still trying to get the central heating for his Lochdubh police station home that Chief Inspector Blair had promised in exchange for getting credit for solving an earlier murder. Anxious to get the central heating, Hamish took credit for a gutsy bluff that solved the death of the glutton. His reward? He was promoted to Sergeant and Police Constable Willie Lamont was assigned to "assist" him and live in the police station's spare bedroom.

Rarely since Shakespeare has anyone painted a portrayal of a person in power with greater comic wit than M.C. Beaton does with Willie Lamont. Three main gags dominate: Willie's desire to keep things neat and tidy; Willie's malapropisms; and Willie's idea of a romantic life.

Much of the pleasure of Willie's appearances is spoiled, however, by the portrayal of Hamish as being very upset by Willie. No one could be upset by Willie.

As the book opens, Hamish spots a recycled hippy van parked where it's not allowed. Planning to hurry the van and its occupants right out of town, Hamish is surprised to find that the driver, Sean Gourlay, is young, handsome, and well off. Gourlay is accompanied by a very foul-mouthed Cheryl Higgins who loves to shout "pig!" Hamish associates such "travellers" with layabouts who are collecting on the dole and sell drugs for an income. Hamish has a premonition that this traveller is bad news.

In the first half of the book, Hamish finds himself running the police business by himself while looking out for Willie, too. Desperate to get rid of Willie, Priscilla and Hamish work out a scheme that quickly backfires. In the background, Blair decides that it's time to take Hamish down a peg or two and comes close to succeeding.

In the meantime, Gourlay has charmed the minister and is camping behind the manse and siphoning off electricity to power his lights and telly. Gourlay soon has all of the older ladies in town in the palm of his hand. But the town doesn't seem as happy. Hamish reaches the end of his rope when Gourlay starts to show an interest in Priscilla and becomes a pest.

When Gourlay turns up bludgeoned to death by a sledge hammer, it looks bad for the villagers. Those with a motive have iron-clad alibis . . . except the villagers. How will Hamish handle investigating his friends and neighbors?

The mystery's resolution will probably strike you as a little far-fetched. M.C. Beaton wrote herself into a corner that required a pretty weird result. I graded the book down accordingly, but I found the book's ending to be a nice surprise.
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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.
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on 23 April 2011
Two travelling people in a converted bus decide to settle in Lochdubh. Hamish Macbeth takes a dislike to Sean on site and believes he is trouble. He seems to be having a bad effect on the village and people are looking at each other in suspicion when drugs go missing from the doctor's surgery and money goes missing from a charity collection. Then Sean is found murdered and his girlfriend, Cheryl, disappears.

Hamish is struggling with his promotion to sergeant and finds his sidekick, Willie Lamont, a less than satisfactory constable. No one in the village will tell him what's going on so he has his work cut out to try and unravel the mystery which surrounds the village, as well as unmasking the murderer and discovering why some of the respectable ladies seem to be in fear of their lives.

This is an interesting story though perhaps not as good as some of the books in this series. I did enjoy it and found the way Hamish managed to solve the problems very well done. An enjoyable read but perhaps not up to the standard set by some of the series.
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on 11 April 1999
once more i was entralled by the adventures of Police Constable hamish mcBeth. I love this series and Death of a Travelling man was exceptional. When a suspious looking man and woman camp in Lochduhh hamish smells trouble. When the man is killed it's up to hamish to find out who did it and why. It seemed that the man really turned on the charm with the ladies of the village. Happy reading!
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on 22 July 2014
We're back in Lochdubh for this instalment, and that's a good thing. The characters and backdrop are welcoming, particularly to those who've read the series in order. The plot is slightly more complex than usual, with three main strands - the first, the on-off Hamish/Priscilla relationship - this book takes that some way on from the last one. The second is, of course, the necessary murder. And the third is introduced by Hamish having a new subordinate PC to help him - and this adds some humour along the way.
The villain is a traveller - and here, I found the book at times a little preachy in the tone it took to describe the typical lifestyle of the scrounging travellers - the Daily Mail-esque morailty was a little disarming and, I felt, a little more than needed - it seemed to stretch beyond just what I thought the characters would feel.
It's impossible to not get carried away with the story though - far fetched at times, and not entirely believable, but just enough to let you soak it in and not question it. Another good slab of entertainment.
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on 18 August 2014
In this 9th Hamish Macbeth murder mystery, Hamish Macbeth has been promoted to the rank of Sergeant at the end of the last book, this latest novel from M C Beaton, finds Hamish sharing his little police cottage with his new constable Willie. Willie is not the easiest person to live with as he has an obsession with cleaning (unlike Hamish who likes the lived in look). However, when a traveller couple turn up in the village and set up home on the vicarage lawn, a clean house becomes the least of Hamish's problem! The arrival of the unwelcomed visitors is followed by a spate of thefts, neighbours turn against each other and the Vicar loses his faith. It is not surprising that before long Hamish is on the trail of a murderer but everyone seems to have a motive.
Alongside all of this Hamish himself is plotting - to get rid of Willie and to get his house back.
This was another very enjoyable easy read and as always I will look forward to reading the next book in the series.
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VINE VOICEon 29 December 2012
With M C Beaton's story of Hamish once you have read one you with have the basis for the other stories written by the same author. He is a Local Bobby based in a Highland village on the edge of a loch. There is usually a murder or a crime that he eventually solves but in his own Highland way, never conventional methods used, he has an adversary with a detective in another district and this adds some humour to the story line. He wants to maintain his life style as it is and all thought of promotion is off the list of wants..there is a slight love story with a lady who runs the local Inn...If you enjoy this there are a good number of books in the series to entertain you in your spare time..
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on 10 July 2009
this book is a really good read with easy to follow story line, not like some continually go back and forwards in time, would recommend most highly, and suggest anyone wanting to read this book read all the other Hamish Macbeth stories,I have been reading them in the order in which they were written and found all of them most enjoyable, makes you want to read the next one!There is a faint storyline throughout the books so reading them in order does help keep up with the current events recorded in the story line, Hamish Macbeth proves to be a very good policeman when he puts his mind to the job, and a really lazy bum when he has the time for it.
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on 9 January 2013
Great book. In this story we get to know Hamish's side kick Willie Lamont, who for a copper can only be described as being "away with the fairies". Nice pleasant chap though.

We see a "new age traveller" and his girlfriend setting up in Lochdubh and asserting himself among the ladies of the village only to cause alot of unease in the village. Try imagining one of the Currie sisters running around in the nude!! Eventually he is found dead and it is up to Hamish to find out who did it. Inadvertantly he gets engaged to the un-phaseable Priscilla!!!

Great story. Would recommend.
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on 30 July 2014
I love Agatha Raisin and the television series of Hamish Macbeth but this series of books are a delight and I feel better than the TV series. the characters are so real and the story winds you in from the start - you want to know what happens and you feel Hamish's anger and frustration with Blair. Love it hope you will too
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