Death of a Cad by M C Beaton.
Now that the weather is cold and frosty, what better type of book to huddle down with than a cosy mystery from M C Beaton. I did exactly this yesterday in between preparations for Christmas with the second in her Hamish Macbeth series set in the Highlands. Having loved the TV series some years ago, I read the first book last year (review here).
The fictional village of Lochdubh is obviously a hotbed of murder – the first book involved deadly goings-on during a fly-fishing course; the second, death over a bet about who gets the first grouse on the ‘Glorious Twelfth’ (of August, the first day of the grouse-shooting season).
So we are introduced to the Halburton-Smythes who are hosting a house party to celebrate the engagement of their daughter Priscilla to the successful playwright Henry Withering. All the other Highland aristos and regimental cronies are queueing up to be invited, including Captain Peter Bartlett – who has an eye for the ladies and a reputation as a bit of a chancer and sponger to match. He makes the bet with another guest, manages to upset half the room and ends up dead for his troubles.
Cue Hamish, who has long been a friend (and admirer) of Priscilla’s, to step in and solve the mystery with his expertise in shooting, big family contacts book, and calm way of investigating.
Naturally his DI tries to muscle in, but after his city ways upset the country gentry, Hamish is back on the case in a double act with the DCI, smoothing over the situation and teasing out the truth from all the obfuscation.
Hamish’s methods of policing work perfectly in the village. He acts mainly by deterrent with poachers and the like, rather than arresting them. For all of his laid-back approach he’s keenly observant and good at reading people, and shamelessly works by mutual back-scratching to get his killer.
These books are great fun, easy reads and well-plotted – plus they’re set in an irresistible location. (8.5/10)