Thursday, January 4, 2018

Death of An Honest Man (A Hamish Macbeth Mystery #33)

Author:  M.C. Beaton
Genre:  Mystery

Hardcover; Audio CD; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9781455558315; 9781478950257
Grand Central Publishing
256 Pages
$17.10; $23.03; $13.99 Amazon
February 20, 2018


Nobody loves an honest man, or that was what police sergeant Hamish Macbeth tried to tell newcomer Paul English.  Paul had moved to a house in Cnothan, a sour village on Hamish's beat.

He attended church in Lochdubh.  He told the minister, Mr. Wellington, that his sermons were boring.  He told tweedy Mrs. Wellington that she was too fat and in these days of increasing obesity it was her duty to show a good example.  Angela Brody was told her detective stories were pap for the masses and it was time she wrote literature instead.  He accused Hamish of having dyed his fiery red hair.  He told Jessie Currie -- who repeated all the last words of her twin sister -- that she needed psychiatric help.

"I speak as I find," he bragged.  Voices saying, "I could kill that man," could be heard from Lochdubh to Cnothan.

And someone did.

Now Hamish is faced with a bewildering array of suspects.  And he's lost the services of his clumsy policeman, Charlie, who has resigned from the force after Chief Inspector Blair berated Charlie one too many times, and the policeman threw Blair into the loch.  Can Hamish find the killer on his own?


Hamish Macbeth has just met the most unpleasant man to arrive in his jurisdiction.  Paul English considers himself to be honest, but he is boorish, mean-spirited, and greedy.  In fact, this is what got him killed.  After an altercation at a local pub with some foresters, Hamish handcuffs the man but he manages to escape - handcuffs and all.  It is not long before his body is found in the bogs, handcuffs and all.  While it is considered an accident, Hamish doesn't believe it; and after examining the body himself, he finds marks of a stabbing.  Now it becomes a homicide investigation, and Hamish is up to his ears in suspects.

Unfortunately, then there's Chief Inspector Blair, who hates Hamish with a passion and wants rid of him.  When he comes nosing around, Hamish's policeman Charlie Carter is angered by something Blair does and throws him in the loch.  But Charlie is tired of being a policeman and decides to leave before he can be punished, which leaves Hamish in need of a new one.  Blair, in his deranged mind, sends Silas Dunbar - with instructions to report on everything Hamish does.  Hamish, in his wisdom, knows Blair and uses Silas for his own means...

Then there's the matter of Hamish's beloved cat, Sonsie.  Taking the wild cat to a sanctuary was the worst thing he's ever done, in his mind.  So he sets out to find her.  When he sees an injured cat, he assumes it's Sonsie and takes her to his vet for care.  While everyone insists the cat is not Sonsie but evil, Hamish refuses to listen.  The villagers believe it's evil and cast a spell, but Hamish persists - even when his dog Lugs is afraid of it.

These three events, seemingly unrelated, are tied together in this delightful mystery.  The plot is one event after another, all commingling seamlessly to create another excellent Hamish Macbeth mystery.

Hamish himself is an enigma - he's a very clever policeman who uses his instinct to solve crimes, yet he has no desire to leave his beloved village and be promoted, so he allows others to take the credit for his work - even while the 'others' is oftentimes Blair.

This book was sheer pleasure to read.  Ms. Beaton has shown herself time and again to be a talented storyteller, and this latest is no less enjoyable than the first in the series.  While the tale weaves its many threads together, we are drawn to not only the murder itself, but the many subplots within, not the least of these being his genuine sorrow at losing Sonsie and his desire to have her returned to him.  This alone was worth reading the book.

While I will say no more lest I give away too much, I will say that the ending was quite satisfying indeed.  In fact, I do believe that Death of An Honest Man is one of the best in the series, and I eagerly await the next.  Highly recommended.


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