Sunday 21 September 2014

Death of a Gossip (Hamish Macbeth Book 1) - M.C. Beaton

Title: Death of a Gossip (Hamish Macbeth Book 1)
Author: M.C. Beaton
Genre: Mystery
Published: 1985
Formats: Hardback/Paperback/Ebook

Available at:
The Book Depository
Amazon UK

“Death of a Gossip” by M.C. Beaton is the first book in the long running Hamish Macbeth Mystery series. I picked up this book in order to meet the Cosy Mystery requirement of the 2014 Eclectic Reader Challenge. It was this book specifically that I chose because I recognised the Hamish Macbeth name from a 1990’s BBC TV show which was based on this series of novels although to be honest I never actually watched it.

The story is set in the quaint Scottish village of Lochdubh where local police constable Hamish Macbeth enjoys the quiet life. However when a guest at a local fly-fishing school is murdered his quiet life is turned upside down. Of course Hamish isn’t experienced in murder investigation and so a team of experienced professionals arrive in the village and effectively bar Hamish from participating. Hamish, however, ignores this and continues to investigate, slowly uncovering clues about the other members of the fly-fishing school in the hope that he can help solve the case.

I did enjoy reading this, yes it was incredibly lightweight at times and paced in a very leisurely manner but it just felt very pleasant to read. If you after a nice relaxing few hours of reading then this book will competently fit the bill. From the beginning it is obvious who the victim is going to be but Beaton uses this really well to build up the tension between her and the potential suspects. I did feel that the detection elements felt a bit clumsy but this didn’t really spoil my enjoyment.

I did have some issues with the characters however. Hamish himself is an engaging and likeable character who provides some real humour throughout the story but the supporting characters all felt very stereotypical. There were some brash Americans, a na├»ve working class woman and an egotistical upper class “gentleman” for her to obsess over. They were all so very uninteresting and some of the attitudes on display felt very dated, particularly the naivety of the young woman, Alice.

Overall, this was a nice and enjoyable read and I can fully appreciate why the Cosy Mystery tag applies here. Hamish is a very likeable character and I suspect that his humour and personality did help ensure I enjoyed the book as much as I actually did. I suspect I may give some more of these books a try and see how Hamish is developed throughout the series.


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