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by M. C. Beaton
Mysterious Press, February 2003
256 pages
ISBN: 0892966777

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Summer in the highlands of Scotland. Hamish MacBeth, Lochdubh's competent but unambitious village bobby decides to take a trip to Stoyre, one of the villages on his beat. Usually not much happens around Lochdubh, which suits Hamish admirably, but he checks on the outlying areas whenever he thinks of it. Monday morning he goes to Stoyre and finds the village apparently deserted except for the general store. Mrs. MacBean informs him that the god-fearing people of Stoyre are all at the kirk. MacBeth thinks this is a bit unusual, but nothing for him to investigate.

A burglary is reported in Braikie. When Hamish arrives, the owner of the grocery store tells him that a large amount of liquor was stolen. Hamish remembers that there were only a couple of shelves containing alcoholic beverages behind the counter, but the owner claims that the thieves emptied out the basement also. Despite the interference of the storekeeper and the disbelief of his superiors, Hamish investigates further and finds the source of the scam. Now he's in for it. He has to figure out a way to prevent being transferred to a bigger force. He really really doesn't want to leave Lochdubh.

I saw a couple of episodes of the TV program and the casting and portrayal of Hamish did not gibe with my mental picture of Hamish or the village, so that put me off reading any more of the books. That memory has faded, and although the Hamish in this book is much more competent when it comes to police work than the old Hamish, I found reading this to be a good way to spend a couple of peaceful hours. He is more assertive than he used to be, but he is several years older. He still has problems with women; he never recognizes that the right one may be just under his nose. The local yentas, the Currie sisters, are still spreading rumours, and Angela, the doctor's wife is always at hand to help Hamish out of a tight spot.

If you are unfamiliar with the series, try a couple of the earliest before you read this one. If you have followed Hamish through the years, you will find DEATH OF A VILLAGE worth seeking out.

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, December 2002

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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