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on 15 February 2007
Once more Hamish Macbeth's peaceful life as rural policeman in the Scottish Highlands is disturbed by murder. This time it is a disagreeable old cleaning lady, Mrs Gillespie, who is the victim. It's easy for Hamish to discover the motive, but not so easy to decide which of the many suspects is the murderer.

As usual, Hamish is having trouble with his love life, yearning over Priscilla, dithering over marrying Elspeth, and encountering a few other women who complicate matters. Also as usual, he has to grapple with the dangerous possibility that someone will find out how brilliant he is and promote him away from his beloved rural beat.

An exciting mystery with plenty of twists and turns, amusing characters and plenty of humour makes this an enjoyble read as usual. I personally am a little tired of Hamish's dithering over whether or not to get married, and not being able to make up his mind to whom, and I wish he'd make up his mind one way or the other, but that's only a minor quibble. These books are always fun to read.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 15 January 2014
Hamish investigates the death of a blackmailing cleaner and finds a multitude of suspects. As usual, Hamish solves the crime, struggles with both his love life and authority and has plenty of adventure along the way. These are very pleasant books to read. They won't win any prizes but the plots are sufficiently convoluted to keep you interested and guessing, the writing style is cozy and amusing and all loose ends are tied up so they are a good way to spend a few hours.
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Police Constable Hamish Macbeth is happiest during the good weather when there's no crime going on. He'll see if he can mooch a free coffee or sandwich at the Tommel Castle Hotel and leave his cat, Sonsie, and his dog, Lugs, to be fed by the doctor's wife. Unattached, he seems happiest . . . even if his old girl friend Elspeth Grant accused him of being married to a cat and dog.

That tranquility is dispelled from Death of a Gossip when Elspeth sends him a spiteful letter to let Hamish know she's coming for a wee holiday at the Tommel Castle Hotel, but is not interested in pursuing him. Matters are made worse when Mrs. Gillespie arrives to clean the police station: Hamish had "won" her services at a church raffle. She seems to make more of a mess than anything else. Hamish is further annoyed to notice that Elspeth's letter has disappeared. Mrs. Gillespie has a reputation as a gossip, and Hamish doesn't want the news spread around Lochdubh. Hamish heads off to scold her . . . but is prevented from doing so when he finds she's been murdered.

Hamish has a new challenge when Detective Chief Inspector Blair decides that he'll get Hamish some publicity so that Hamish will have to accept promotion to Strathbane where Blair can keep an eye on him. Before long, the television crews are attached to Blair rather than Hamish as the investigation begins.

Hamish finds out that no one liked Mrs. Gillespie, although some swear by her cleaning . . . which is indeed suspicious. Her husband practically dances a jig when he hears the news. Her step-daughter is also pleased. The most that any cleaning customers have to say is that they'll have to hire someone else. What did she do to annoy everyone?

Hamish soon picks up clues that Mrs. Gillespie was a snoop. Could it be that she's holding something over the heads of her customers?

Tracking down the secrets turns out to be tricky. Hamish ends up in an uneasy alliance with Elspeth who promises to help with the case if Hamish will share what he finds. Hamish isn't too happy about the partnership despite Elspeth's good work: He's jealous of the hard-drinking reporter, Luke Teviot, he's joined Elspeth on her holiday. Between listening to gossip and trailing suspects, a long list of possible motives for murder develops. But the investigation itself starts to turn dangerous as revelations threaten the suspects.

For long-time Hamish Macbeth fans, this book will remind you of Death of a Gossip in terms of how threatened people are when their secrets might be exposed. The story develops in a more sophisticated way through the investigation. Ms. Beaton has improved a lot in her procedural writing since the beginning. As in many of the books in the series, the investigation shakes Hamish's complacency and the results are rewarding reading, especially for those who enjoy Hamish's problems with women.

The book has two main weaknesses. One, the clues take a little too long to be revealed. Two, the identity of the murderer isn't difficult enough to figure out.
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on 20 June 2014
Lovely story, interesting plot and lots of comic bits..Abit more action than usual and it is difficult to guess who did it! One of MC Beaton`s best to date promply delivered and well packaged by Wordery..
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on 14 March 2014
Hamish Macbeth the only policeman in the world who can run and shoot with the best but prefers his wild cat and mangy dog. The man would make a better detective than Columbo, Kojak and Pour it rolled into one, but his way with women is so bad he will never be happy or will head
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on 3 July 2012
Mrs. Gillespie is famous for being the best maid in the northwest of Sutherland. But to Hamish Macbeth, she is a malicious gossip who bangs around the furniture and clanks pots. When Hamish wins Mrs. Gillespie's services in a church raffle, he spends most of the day trying to avoid her. He doesn't understand how she managed to gain such a fine reputation. Then she is found dead, struck down violently by a metal bucket of water. Knowing Mrs. Gillespie's penchant for gossip, Hamish is sure she delighted in finding out her clients' secrets--which means that everyone whose home she cleaned is a suspect.
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on 4 May 2011
Hamish Macbeth wins the services of Mrs Gillespie - a cleaning lady - in a raffle. But he finds her a bit fearsome and her cleaning skills aren't that good even though she seems to have many customers in the area.

When she is found dead she seems to have more money than could have been earned from cleaning. What follows is a complex web of lies and secrets which everyone is keen to keep hidden. It also leads to big league criminals and Hamish finds his own life in danger before too long.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story with all its ramifications and interesting characters and it kept me guessing about what was really going on for much of the time. I liked it because there is very little violence involved and hardly any bad language which makes a refreshing change from many modern crime novels on the market.
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on 2 July 2013
I like a detective story that treats the reader with respect and in a series like these books draws you into the environment and community in which they are set. Poor Hamish! M C Beaton is such a tease!
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on 11 October 2010
M C Beaton's Hamish Macbeth delights us once again as he solves yet another murder on his patch in Lochdubh. He never fails with his unorthodox approach to aprehend the villain, despite the animosity of his bad tempered superior officer, his hit and miss love life and self confessed laziness.
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on 5 September 2013
I just love books by m.c.beaton, especially hamish and agatha, I would reccomend them to everyone who likes a who done it with out too much gore, and a lot of humour
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