Friday, May 23, 2014

Catching up with M C Beaton's Hamish Macbeth

I have a tendency to stock-pile books by my favourite authors which is how I've ended up four books behind in M C Beaton's Hamish Macbeth series and five books behind in her Agatha Raisin series. This is a compliment rather than a negative reflection on the quality of the books!

With the arrival of the latest instalment, DEATH OF A POLICEMAN, I thought enough is enough and I have binge read DEATH OF - A SWEEP, - A KINGFISHER, - YESTERDAY and - A POLICEMAN to get up to date.

I have reviewed several of the earlier books and I do find it difficult to say anything new as these books are very much about maintaining the status quo....:

An outsider moves in the tiny Sutherland village of Lochdubh (or nearby) where Hamish has been a thirty-something policeman for over twenty-five years. Often the outsider is killed or turns out to be the killer. The murder is solved. Hamish vacillates between two love-interests: Priscilla and Elspeth and another year passes.

In SWEEP, Hamish is joined in his home by another policeman. This has happened before and the new police officer doesn't usually last long. And it is the case with this one. However, his replacement, Dick, makes himself at home and appears from KINGFISHER onwards. Hamish also seems to be getting more keen to get a wife as Dick gets cosy and chintzes the place up.

In DEATH OF A POLICEMAN, Hamish's nemesis Blair has another attempt at sending a police officer to spy on Hamish and Dick, to gather information that the pair are lazy and underworked and that the police station can be closed. The spy, Cyril, is soon sussed out by the locals and turns for information to a librarian in Braikie who was once rebuffed by Hamish and bears a grudge. Hamish makes an off-the-cuff remark about shooting Cyril and when Cyril is indeed shot dead, Hamish is in deep trouble. Fortunately Dick is able to help get Hamish's name clear. The investigation into Cyril's murder has Hamish risking his life and career to unearth the truth about some of the well respected members of Strathbane society.

As usual I enjoyed all four books with my favourites being KINGFISHER and POLICEMAN. This is an addictive, uncomplicated, easy to read series and the place and people are fun to visit. Despite the high murder rate (!) these books must do wonders for the Sutherland tourist industry as it sounds beautiful.

As well as Dick staying for more than one book there was a short continuation of a murder-related plotline from KINGFISHER into YESTERDAY but really these books can be read in any order and with the new covers they are flying off the library shelves.

Series order and more reviews of M C Beaton's books.


RedSetter said...

Its always god to read new and different novels but there is something so comforting about reading the 'further adventures' of a know character and setting, like catching up with an old friend.

I've only had one of these as an audio book but didn't realise they were being added to so I'll be adding these to my future reading wish list.

Karen (Euro Crime) said...

There's usually 1 a year of both Agatha and Hamish so we're up to around 30 Hamishes! I've been reading these since they were first published, bought from the existing Murder One shop in Denmark Street - happy days :).

Karen (Euro Crime) said...

I meant original M1 shop!

Margot Kinberg said...

I like the Hamish Macbeth series very much, Karen. You've reminded me that I need to catch up, too!

Stewart Ogilvie-Goddard said...

Very easy to read and I now always have them on pre-order.