Thursday, January 26, 2017

Death of a Ghost (A Hamish Macbeth Mystery)

Author:  M. C. Beaton
Genre:  Mystery

Hardcover; Audio CD; Ebook; Audible
ISBN #:  9781455558308; 9781478938958
Grand Central Publishing
256 Pages
$17.10; $30.00; $13.99 Amazon
February 21, 2017


When Police Sergeant Hamish Macbeth hears reports of a haunted castle near Drim, he assumes the eerie noises and lights reported by the villagers are just local teenagers going there to smoke pot, or worse, inject themselves with drugs.  Still, Hamish decides that he and his policeman, Charlie "Clumsy" Carson, will spend the night at the ruined castle to get to the bottom of the rumors once and for all.

There's no sign of any ghost...but then Charlie disappears through the floor.  It turns out he's fallen into the cellar.  And what Hamish and Charlie find there is worse than a ghost: a dead body propped against the wall.  Waiting for help to arrive, Hamish and Charlie leave the castle just for a moment--to eat bacon baps--but when they return, the body is nowhere to be seen.

It's clear something strange - and deadly - is going on at the castle, and Hamish must get to the bottom of it before the "ghost" can strike again...


Once again our unambitious Sergeant Macbeth is back in a new tale of mystery and intrigue.  When he and his policeman Charlie Carson are called to a supposedly haunted castle in Drim by the new owner, Hanover "Handy" Ebrington, a retired superintendent from Glasgow, they take the task willingly, thinking it is merely the wind playing tricks.  After spending the night in the castle and finding no ghosts, they decide to do a bit of exploring, hoping to find the source of the 'moans' that were often heard in the night.  What they do find is a bit more than that: when Charlie falls through a hole in the floor they discover a body.  But once they call for backup and go to find the body, it's gone.  

Sure that smugglers are somewhere about, Hamish has more on his plate than this: Drim's local minister Peter Haggis seems to be taken with Olivia Sinclair, an industrialist's wife, while his sister Sheila is interested in the husband, Selwyn.  And poor Hamish is trying to avoid women altogether, while the wife of Lochdubh's own minister, Mrs. Wellington, has it in her mind that Hamish needs a good woman and sets about summoning her niece Heather, intent on putting them together.

But once the lost body reappears, and there is another murder, Hamish is sure there is more to the story than just smugglers at bay and he is determined to find the truth of the killings all the while dodging the machinations of Mrs. Wellington to see him wed, and his nemesis Blair to see him out of the police force.  And yet there are more subplots woven within, all balancing each other out and a lively part of the final tale.

What we have is quite an involved story, with plenty of threads going out in all directions, and it is up to Hamish to pull them all together and twist them tightly into one coil as a single unit.  With his policeman's instinct and his Scottish intuition, this he does beautifully.  But no, the book does not end with the discovery at last of the murderer; Ms. Beaton pulls together the rest of the tale by gathering each subplot collectively as if it were the easiest thing in the world to do, and leaves us yearning for the subsequent book in the series, if only to find out where Hamish will next find himself.  I, for one, heartily await it and hope it is to be soon.  Highly recommended.                                                                                      

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