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DEATH OF A DENTIST
by M. C. Beaton
Warner Books, July 1998
228 pages
$6.50
ISBN: 0446606014


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Perhaps I should have waited until he had finished the polishing. Still, no one has ever accused me of having overmuch tact... or common sense, for that matter. I should have guessed, when I saw the muscles in his hand stand out as I made my first statement, but no...'I've just finished reading a book called "Death of a Dentist"' quoth I brightly. His face darkened markedly as his grip on the stainless steel probe became noticeably tighter. I was then treated to a short lecture on how there is too much written and broadcast about violence in our society. Nothing deterred, I went on (somewhat maliciously I must admit) 'The murderer drilled holes in all of the dentist's teeth.' It does not pay to try to be funny at one's dentist's expense. 'Ow! That hurt!'. 'That's because as you get old the gums shrink and the roots become exposed. That's what happened then.' TouchÈ.

Indolent, unambitious Hamish is smitten with a toothache and has to seek out the dentist Frederick Gilchrist who practises in the neighbouring small town of Braikie. To Hamish's dismay, he discovers the dentist is unable to help since he no longer has sufficient life to be of much use to anyone, to the delight of many people.

Macbeth is always excluded from the official investigations conducted by his superiors at Strathbane because he turned down promotion. He does have a perfect record at solving mysteries, and invariably has to practise subterfuge in order to uncover murderers since he has no authorised access to official records. In earlier books he is able to further his investigations by talking things over with his sometime girl-friend, later fiancee and now former fiancee, Priscilla Halburton-Smythe. In 'Death of a Dentist' Priscilla's place is taken by her computer hacking southern friend Sarah.

Parallel to the murder investigation is Hamish's attempt to discover who robbed a local pub of two hundred and fifty thousand pounds, in cash. This was to be the prize at a Bingo night and mysteriously disappeared from the hotel safe (unsafe?) ... which had a wooden back.

There are the usual assortment of odd characters in this book as many people seem to be anxious to end Hamish's life. I think Ms. Chesney must have been watching television's Hamish since in this novel, unlike most of the previous, Hamish manages to bed a beautiful girl.

Reviewed by Denise Wels, August 2001

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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