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by M. C. Beaton
Mysterious Press, February 2007
256 pages
ISBN: 0892960108

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Hamish Macbeth is content to be the only policeman in the sparsely populated area of the Highlands surrounding the village of Lochdubh. Because he is a very good detective and has solved many cases, his main problem is finding ways to make certain that he isn't promoted and reassigned. When a local television station gets the idea of doing a story on him, Hamish manages to get them interested in his bumbling superior so that he is once again left alone.

Unhappily, Hamish has just won the services of a local cleaning lady, Mrs Gillespie, or as modern politically correct times would have her called, a maid. She is rumored to be a great cleaner, but Hamish doesn't see any example of that. Her manner is unpleasant, she bangs her cleaning pail around for hours, leaves water on the floor and steals a note that he received from Elspeth Grant, his on-again, off-again, reporter girlfriend. In the note, Elspeth told him that once again she'd be visiting Lochdubh, but she assured him that she had no interest in seeing Hamish at all.

Soon he gets the call that Mrs. Gillespie has been found dead near the home of one of her clients. Her head had been bashed in with her own cleaning pail.

From the way she easily took a personal letter from his own home, Hamish deduces that she must have done the same thing to her other clients and that she was the type to use the information against them. He also decides that blackmail might have been a part of her lifestyle as he investigates her home and financial accounts.

Unfortunately, Hamish learns that because Mrs Gillespie had been such an unpleasant person, there seems to be a plethora of people who might have had reason to harm her, including her husband and their daughter.

Now it's up to Hamish, using his grand good sense to find the guilty party. But he knows he must do it without letting the spotlight find him. The TV reporter is still looking at him as if he'd be a good subject for a special report!

This is the 22nd volume in this highly popular series and, once again, author M C Beaton knows how to keep the readers happy. There are no surprises in DEATH OF A MAID; the crime is solved by Hamish and no other. Hamish, a (for the most part) happy bachelor, is once again the object of romantic interest to a few women, including headstrong Elspeth, and once again we see that the relationship between the two is put off but never severed. The many inhabitants of this Highlands area are all still written with a great sense of humor and the conversations and dialogues are done with great Scottish brevity and wit.

I'm not certain that this book will garner any new fans for the series. Sometimes one gets the feeling that the writer can do another installment of her many different series in her sleep, but for the die-hard fans of Beaton, DEATH OF A MAID is yet another entertaining segment in the lives of these likeable characters. I spent a very pleasant afternoon reading this book and I'm looking forward to reading the next Hamish Macbeth adventure.

Reviewed by Sharon Katz, December 2006

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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