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Death of a Liar by M C Beaton

Sergeant Hamish Macbeth is as irascible as ever in M.C. Beaton’s latest “A Hamish Macbeth Mystery,” “Death of a Liar.”  The novel is set, as usual, in Sutherland district of Scotland’s far north in a couple of fictional towns called Lochdubh and Strathbane.  Macbeth acts as the Lochdubh town constable under constant attack from his superior, Detective Chief Inspector Blair who is pressuring to bring all of the police force under one roof leaving the old folk in the isolated villages with no one to look out for their safety.  Needless to say, Hamish Macbeth is against the consolidation effort.

In this installment, Hamish is fooled by a young woman who claims to have been raped.  It turns out that she is a known liar and cannot follow through with a consistent story nor a description of the assailant. She ultimately admits that she made the story up.  The next time she calls for help she is ignored, and later is found brutally murdered.  A couple recently arrived from England also are murdered leaving Hamish with three challenging cases to investigate.  Are they related cases?

Ready to assist is a new forensic examiner, Christine Dalray who quickly develops an interest in Hamish beyond work.  Hamish, on the other hand, is longing to get to know a Polish baker who has recently settled in the area named Anka.  Anka takes a shine, instead, to Hamish’s police partner, Dick Fraser, and during the course of the story Dick leaves the police force to move in with Anka to become her assistant baker.  Once again, Hamish is left alone in his little police station home with no real prospects for a companion other than his dog and his cat.

There is one particularly wild scene toward the end of the book when the killers have Hamish locked in a coffin and are about to throw him  off a cliff into the ocean.  I won’t reveal the outcome, but it is not something I will forget anytime soon.

Death of a Liar” was an enjoyable read.

Liz Nichols

 

 

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As the Pig Turns by M.C. Beaton

As the Pig Turns” is the 23rd Agatha Raisin Mystery set in the Cotswold town of Mircester, UK.  Agatha Raisin is implicated initially in the gruesome murder of a local policeman because of a grudge she held against the cop.  Once she is cleared she resolves to have her detective agency solve the murder, despite repeated warnings by the local police chief that Raisin’s agency is to stay out of the investigation.  Raisin ignores the police because she knows, and they know, that she has a fabulous track record in solving crimes ahead of the police.

As usual, Beaton effectively winds a number of subplots into the story.  Raisin has been particularly hard on her young crackerjack detective, Toni.  Raisin had the audacity to order another of her agents to stop seeing Toni socially because Toni was, in Raisin’s opinion, too young to get married.  The other agent responded by quitting the company and joining the Army.  Raisin is also very fickle about her love interests and her feelings about her neighbor and ex-spouse, James, her friend, Charles, and other men who come into her life, varies depending on whether they are around or not and how attentive they are when they are in town.

As I’ve said in previous reviews, Agatha is a hard character to like, but you have to admire her hutzpah and her success.  She reminds me very much of a boss I once had.  She was someone you loved and hated at the same time, but you always had to admire her ability. I can relate to Agatha even though I don’t really like her.

As the Pig Turns” will appeal to many British cozy mystery readers and to those who have been long-time fans of this series.

Liz Nichols

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Death of a Valentine by M.C. Beaton

Here’s another in Beaton’s Hamish Macbeth Mystery series. Hamish gets himself tangled in an unusual amount of hot water as he takes on a female beat copper, Josie McSween.

It turns out Josie is not just gunning for the Lochdubh miscreants; she wants to take down Macbeth as well– as her lawfully wedded husband. The zany plot adds to the entertainment value of this mystery. It is usually hard to feel sorry for the irascible Macbeth, but this time he is overmatched by a devious female cop and I almost began to feel for the defenseless guy.

The murder mystery that the team solves is who sent a Valentines Day letter bomb to a self-centered beauty queen. As usual, there were plenty of people who had it in for the young woman. Was the one who ordered the hit a jealous rival? A former boss? A crime boss? A cop on the take? Hamish and Josie have to do some round-about work to keep rival crime teams from taking their case, and they also have to play cat and mouse with the hit man who also goes after Macbeth.

This is what I’ve come to expect from Beaton– a zany plot and colorful characters mixed with a lot of action in a charming Highland setting.

Liz Nichols

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