Books by M.C. Beaton

M.C. Beaton has written fourteen Hamish Macbeth mysteries. She is the author of the Agatha Raisin series and is a film commentator on BBC television. M. C. Beaton lives in a Cotswolds cottage with her husband.


BEATING ABOUT THE BUSH by M.C. Beaton
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Dec. 3, 2019

"As usual, Beaton conceals any number of surprises behind her trademark wry humor."
A most unusual suspect helps a detective solve a case. Read full book review >
DEATH OF AN HONEST MAN by M.C. Beaton
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 20, 2018

"One of the most convoluted and striking in this venerable series (Death of a Ghost, 2017, etc.), whose fans will relish the newest complications in the hero's chaotic life."
Honesty may not be the best policy if it makes your acquaintances want to kill you. Read full book review >
DEATH OF A GHOST by M.C. Beaton
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 21, 2017

"Fans of the handsome Highlander will delight in his continuing penchant for the wrong women and his utter lack of ambition despite his superior detecting skills, which this complex case puts on handsome display."
A wily Highland police sergeant solves a case the higher-ups want covered up. Read full book review >
PUSHING UP DAISIES by M.C. Beaton
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Sept. 20, 2016

"Fans of this long-running series will enjoy the continuing drama of the private eye's romances, which, as so often before (Dishing The Dirt, 2016, etc.), overshadow the mystery."
Agatha Raisin continues to struggle, though not very hard, against her predilection for unsuitable men. Read full book review >
DEATH OF A NURSE by M.C. Beaton
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 23, 2016

"The latest appearance by the charming Scot (Death of a Liar, 2015, etc.) provides all the quirky characters and striking Highlands scenery you could want, along with one of Beaton's most successful mysteries."
Beaton's unambitious but talented police hero continues to be attracted to all the wrong women. Read full book review >
DISHING THE DIRT by M.C. Beaton
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Sept. 15, 2015

"As usual, Agatha attracts and forfeits the attentions of a number of eligible bachelors while hunting a clever killer; a basket full of red herrings makes this one of her more interesting cases."
A private detective continues her search for love in all the wrong places. Read full book review >
THE BLOOD OF AN ENGLISHMAN by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Sept. 16, 2014

"Agatha's 25th (Something Borrowed, Someone Dead, 2013, etc.) is another rollicking mixture of clever mystery-making and love gone wrong."
Agatha Raisin is on the scene of yet another wacky Cotswold murder. Read full book review >
SOMETHING BORROWED, SOMEONE DEAD by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Sept. 17, 2013

"Fans of this long-running series (Hiss and Hers, 2012, etc.) will feel right at home and find plenty of mirth and mystery."
Agatha Raisin solves the case of the obliging villager whose kindnesses didn't keep someone from killing her, perhaps for an excellent reason. Read full book review >
HISS AND HERS by M.C. Beaton
Released: Sept. 18, 2012

"Beaton may not supply a great mystery this time out, but as usual, the many amusing characters make it a hoot."
A private detective's amatory obsessions get her in trouble once again. Read full book review >
DEATH OF A KINGFISHER by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Feb. 22, 2012

"Beaton combines an influx of quirky characters with her old favorites (Death of a Chimney Sweep, 2011, etc.), even though the plot this time is a wee bit far-fetched."
An innovative plan to increase tourism in the Highland town of Braikie goes terribly wrong.

Mary Leinster, a newcomer to Lochdubh, has turned the beautiful town property of Buchan's Wood into a tourist attraction she's dubbed "The Fairy Glen." At first all goes well. Busloads of tourists swarm over the glen without bothering the nearest neighbor, wealthy, crotchety Mrs. Colchester. But things take a turn for the worse when a young boy almost drowns in the pool and the glorious and popular Kingfisher is found hanged. Lochdubh Constable Hamish Macbeth, called to investigate, is shunted to a minor role when first the bridge in the glen collapses and then Mrs. Colchester, propelled like a rocket through the glass dome of her house, falls to her death. Hamish, the victim of a long string of failed romances, naturally falls for the stunning Mary, who claims to be on the verge of divorce. Still, he must keep her on the suspect list when he learns that Mrs. Colchester left her money for upkeep on the glen at the expense of her hard-pressed daughter and son-in-law, though they do get the house and its valuable contents and appear to have a sound alibi. Not so their two strange children, who have been busy making mischief while staying with their grandmother. Read full book review >
AS THE PIG TURNS by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Oct. 11, 2011

Who but Agatha Raisin could spot such an unusual method of disposing of a body?

A cold, dull January in the lovely Cotswold village of Carsley finds Agatha visiting the nearby village of Winter Parva for a pig roast. Just before the pig is placed on the coals, Agatha realizes that it is actually a man. The prospective dinner is Gary Beech, a village policeman widely detested for his nit-picking ways. His ex-wife, originally a plain Jane whose wealthy second husband had sent her off to the States for extensive plastic surgery, wants Agatha to look into the death of the first. Agatha's suspicions of her new client's story are complicated when she too is murdered, prompting Agatha to continue her investigation with hair-raising results. Agatha's best detective, Toni Gilmour, has been looking for a new job ever since Agatha interfered with her love life, but she still has the rest of her seasoned crew and the help of her ex-husband and several friends. Threats against Agatha and her band suggest that this is a more complicated crime than she originally supposed. In the end, Agatha proves once more than even though she's vain, nosy and man-crazy, she does have a knack for solving crimes.

The uncompelling mystery doesn't provide the brightest hour for the often-annoying Agatha (Busy Body, 2010, etc.). But she and the cleverly drawn satellites who surround her provide good value for the faithful. Read full book review >
DEATH OF A CHIMNEY SWEEP by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Feb. 25, 2011

"Apart from the puzzle, Hamish's latest advances the career and love life of the clever, stubborn Scot."
Murder is the byproduct when newcomers to the village of Drim, Scotland, call for the chimney sweep. Read full book review >
BUSY BODY by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Oct. 12, 2010

"Testy Agatha, continuing her habit of falling for unsuitable men, scores again with a cunning mixture of satire and mystery."
Agatha Raisin's latest case (There Goes the Bride, 2009, etc.) pits her against the residents of a quaint village who want to see no evil. Read full book review >
DEATH OF A VALENTINE by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Jan. 12, 2010

"The Highlands' most famous bachelor has a narrow escape in Beaton's amusing update on the irresistible Hamish and his coterie of friends and ex-loves."
Police officer Hamish MacBeth finds himself in danger, and not just from a cold-blooded killer. Read full book review >
THERE GOES THE BRIDE by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Oct. 6, 2009

"Agatha (A Spoonful of Poison, 2008, etc.) is as overbearing and abrasive as ever. But she does have her good points, as does this meandering tale."
Detective agency owner Agatha Raisin's ongoing obsession with her ex-husband lands her in the soup. Read full book review >
DEATH OF A WITCH by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Feb. 24, 2009

"A sound mystery featuring a generous portion of Hamish's complicated relationships and the usual delightful Highland descriptions."
The picture-postcard village of Lochdubh once more becomes a mecca for murder. Read full book review >
A SPOONFUL OF POISON by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Oct. 7, 2008

"Agatha remains as resolutely unlovable as ever. Perhaps that makes her believable as a person, if not as a crime solver."
Agatha Raisin grudgingly agrees to help publicize a church fete for Vicar Arthur Chance, only to discover that what's really needed are her detective skills. Read full book review >
DEATH OF A GENTLE LADY by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Feb. 11, 2008

"Hamish's 23rd adventure (Death of a Maid, 2007, etc.) is one of his best, with the usual charming details of Highland life and a crackerjack mystery to boot."
Hamish Macbeth must connive once more to keep his job policing his beloved village of Lochdubh. Read full book review >
KISSING CHRISTMAS GOODBYE by M.C. Beaton
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 4, 2007

"Toni is a breath of fresh air, and devoted fans will be glad to see the back of Agatha's tiresome suitor James (Love, Lies and Liquor, 2006, etc.), in this otherwise run-of-the-mill mystery."
An old-fashioned English Christmas must wait for murder. Read full book review >
DEATH OF A MAID by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Feb. 22, 2007

"The faithful won't mind that Hamish's amours this time take second place to his detecting skills."
Hamish Macbeth rides to the rescue of the Highland village of Lochdubh, which once again has more than its share of homicides. Read full book review >
LOVE, LIES AND LIQUOR by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Sept. 25, 2006

"Detection takes a back seat to Agatha's angst over her long-running amatory follies. Here's hoping she's finally dumped the selfish James for good and can get on with her sleuthing."
There'll be no romantic interlude for Agatha Raisin, not even when her ex-husband invites her to join him at a beachfront hotel. Read full book review >
DEATH OF A DREAMER by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Feb. 22, 2006

"Fans of Hamish (Death of an Outsider, 2004, etc.) will love this combination of mystery and romantic escapades."
The arrival of two artists in the peaceful Scottish Highland village of Lochdubh leads to a picture-perfect murder. Read full book review >
THE PERFECT PARAGON by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Aug. 8, 2005

"Interesting new characters will lure franchise fans to this otherwise insipid entry."
A perfect Cotswold spring finds irascible closet romantic Agatha Raisin in the doldrums, in need of a cuddle and a nice mystery to perk her up. Read full book review >
DEATH OF A BORE by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Feb. 23, 2005

"Quirky but well-plotted: Hamish's 20th offers humor, intrigue, and local color galore."
Egotistical TV personalities, an obnoxious boss, and a tidal wave of villagers bent on marrying him off can't stop Constable Hamish Macbeth from finding out who murdered Lochdubh's writer-in-residence. Read full book review >
THE DEADLY DANCE by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Nov. 18, 2004

"'I am a bitch, that's what I am,' muses Agatha, whose biggest discovery in this effervescent bauble may be a spoonful's worth of self-knowledge. "
Agatha Raisin finally makes it official by opening her own private detective agency. Read full book review >
DEATH OF A CAD by M.C. Beaton
Released: July 1, 2004

A second adventure (Death of a Gossip, 1985) featuring the craggy Scottish landscape, a warm Scottish brew and red-haired village constable Hamish Mac beth, who yearns after Priscilla, daughter of Tommel Castle's Colonel Halburton-Smythe. Priscilla's engagement to playwright Henry Withering, newly famed for Duchess Darling, a current smash, is being celebrated with a house party at the castle. Guests include rich, hard-drinking Jeremy Pomfret; banker Freddie Forbes-Grant and sexy, mercenary wife Vera; china collector Sir Humphrey Throgmorton; aging debs Diana Bryce and Jessica Villiers; and Captain Peter Bartlett, a handsome, boorish Don Juan whose early morning demise by shotgun is unmourned by most. Eventually, it's Hamish who proves that the death was murder, not an accident. The poison killing of another guest, plus some inspired sleuthing in London, brings him to a formal, well-reasoned denouement al the house party's final gathering. Hamish is a gem. He deserves better than the ninnyish Priscilla and a lifetime with dog Towser in Loch Dubh village. Let's move him on! Featherweight, satisfying fun. Read full book review >
AGATHA RAISIN AND THE CASE OF THE CURIOUS CURATE by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: April 7, 2003

"Beaton, never as convincing in this cartoonish series as in her tales of Hamish MacBeth (Death of a Village, 2002, etc.), goes way overboard in one of Agatha's lesser puzzles. Even so, things keep moving fast enough to hold the faithful's interest."
Beaton's grumpy, depressive heroine (Agatha Raisin and the Day the Floods Came, 2002, etc.) has little reason to be cheerful when the curtain comes up this time around. Abandoned in the village of Cardely by her ex-husband James, she's left with no male company save her neighbor John Armitage, a novelist who seems at first unmoved by their proximity. But things brighten with the arrival of vicar Alf Bloxby's new assistant, movie-star-gorgeous curate Tristan Delon. Church attendance naturally soars, and Agatha is even more thrilled when Tristan offers himself as a skilled money manager. The morning after their dinner, however, Tristan is found stabbed to death in the vicar's study. When his murder is followed by the killings of two more women from the village, Armitage thinks he and Agatha should investigate—despite warnings from detective Bill Wong to stay out of it. Their queries take them to London and to business mogul Richard Binser, whose worshipful secretary Miss Partle discloses the news that her boss fell for an expensive scam of Tristan's. Before it's all over, Armitage will have moved to London and Agatha become the target of yet another murder attempt in an absurdly melodramatic denouement. Read full book review >
DEATH OF A VILLAGE by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Feb. 18, 2003

"Beaton (Death of a Celebrity, 2001, etc.) rarely disappoints, and his 19th adventure finds Hamish in top form, with intriguing puzzles to solve, the possibility of a new romance, and ever more inventive ways of avoiding a promotion to higher rank and transfer from his beloved Lochdubh."
Once again, Hamish Macbeth, sole guardian of the law in Scotland's Lochdubh village and environs, is fighting the specter of promotion as he tangles—successfully, he hopes, but not too dramatically—with a series of complex puzzles in his bailiwick. Helped at times by local reporter Elspeth Grant, Hamish deals with domestic intrigue, fake insurance claims, and skullduggery at a nursing home in nearby Braikie village. The most worrisome item on his agenda, however, takes him to the village of Stoyre. The entire town seems to be gripped by an outbreak of unholy religious fervor, its church packed with grimly unresponsive worshippers. Is this ferocious newfound piety connected to the bombing of the house owned by Major Jennings, widely regarded by the locals as godless? Hamish is determined to find out. A couple of visits to Stoyre, its cliffs, and the surrounding sea, provide him with some far-fetched possibilities—none of them as bizarre as the actual events behind the town's sudden and remarkable religious conversion. Read full book review >
AGATHA RAISIN AND THE DAY THE FLOODS CAME by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: July 15, 2002

"The latest installment in this long-running series is as flaccid and downbeat as its heroine, with a puzzle barely intriguing enough to pull the reader to the finish. Lighten up, Agatha."
Poor Agatha is still ensconced in her Carsely village cottage, but now at the end of her short-lived marriage to next-door neighbor James Lacey (Agatha Raisin and the Love from Hell, 2001), who's left her to take holy orders at a French monastery. Her longtime friend and confidant Charles Fraith is also living in France following his marriage to a young Frenchwoman. Even after a trip to an island off the coast of Chile and the arrival of novelist John Armitage at the cottage once occupied by Lacey, Agatha finds her spirits low. Luckily, there's the tonic murder of young Kylie Stokes, whose body, found floating in the river at nearby Evesham, rouses Agatha's interest, especially after her detective friend Bill Wong informs her that Kylie had died of a drug overdose but that her body had been frozen after death. Kylie's fiancé, Zak Jensen, whose father owns the local disco, claims that Kylie had been addicted but had quit. Decked out in blond wig and glasses, supposedly gathering material for a TV program on youth in the provinces, Agatha proceeds to nose around Kylie's co-workers, friends, and family. She's joined intermittently by neighbor Armitage, now her buddy, and manages to irritate Police Chief John Brudge thoroughly before another death and her own narrow escape lead to the killer. Read full book review >
DEATH OF A CELEBRITY by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Jan. 9, 2002

"Pretty much the mixture as before—overextended and a bit more florid than usual—but doubtless a treat for Hamish's legion of fans."
Another puzzle for homespun Hamish MacBeth, sole lawman in the village of Lochdubh, Scotland, where his residence and the town police station are one and the same. Hamish is determined to keep it that way, disdaining any promotion that would take him elsewhere (Death of a Dustman, 2001, etc.). Luckily, there's enough malfeasance to keep him busy close to home. Looking to increase its audience, the television station in nearby Strathbane has hired glamorous Crystal French, a BBC researcher from Edinburgh, to take over the programming from Felicity Pearson. When Crystal proposes a series called "Behind the Lace Curtains," exploring whatever seamy pasts can be found among the town residents, her preliminary interviews provoke panic and even a suicide. But the village is still more shocked when Crystal is found dead in her car, another apparent suicide to everyone but Hamish, whose suspicion of murder is soon confirmed. A jealous Felicity becomes the chief suspect until she is found shot to death on the town dock. As he runs a quiet war with his superiors, Hamish gets help in his investigations from local columnist Elspeth Grant, whose research helps him unearth the past events behind the present decorous carnage. Read full book review >
AGATHA RAISIN AND THE LOVE FROM HELL by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Dec. 10, 2001

"Sheer absurdity, start to finish, and only for those with a high tolerance for Agatha at her silliest."
Her marriage to next-door neighbor James Lacey has nothing to curb Agatha Raisin's proclivity for outlandish adventures in and out of the criminal circuit. For one thing, the marriage itself is a rocky affair. The newlyweds continue to live in separate cottages; the bride is still spending time with her old friend Sir Charles Fraith; the bridegroom, for his part, is carrying on an intermittent affair with sexy Melissa Sheppard. It's only from Melissa, of all people, that Agatha learns James has been diagnosed with brain cancer. Before she can offer her shoulder for his drooping head, he disappears without a trace, and Melissa is discovered murdered in her cottage kitchen. Agatha's longtime policeman friend Bill Wong (Agatha Raisin and the Wellspring of Death, 1998, etc.) has been instructed to tell her nothing about the investigation, but she and Sir Charles, taking that snub as a challenge, decide to nose around on their own, beginning by interviewing Melissa's two ex-husbands. Agatha takes an immediate dislike to Megan, Luke Sheppard's new wife, but that's just for starters. Before they're through, Agatha and Charles will have located James in a French monastery and pinpointed the murderer as well. Read full book review >
DEATH OF A DUSTMAN by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: March 6, 2001

"Pretty much the same mix, with plotting more complex than usual but lively enough to hold the reader to the finish. Hamish's 16th is another winner for his prolific chronicler (Death of an Addict, 1999, etc.)."
Hamish Macbeth, lone policeman in the village of Lubdoch, Scotland, is once again challenged by murder on his turf. This time, the victim is Fergus Macleod, the village dustman, who has recently been upgraded, at double his salary, from garbage collector to environment officer courtesy of Mrs. Freda Fleming, a councilwoman who plans to make Lubdoch picture-perfect and herself a TV personality. Fergus's own brush with fortune is short-lived, though: soon after his promotion he's found in the trash bin of the Curry sisters, killed by a blow to the head. While Clarry, Hamish's new assistant, questions Fergus's widow Martha, who'd long suffered his drunken beatings, Hamish uncovers a trove of letters Fergus had used to blackmail some of the villagers. He's scarcely begun to interview the blackmail victims when crofter Angus Ettric's wife Kristy finds him dead on their kitchen floor, a second murder victim. The presence of Greek mogul Ionedes, overseeing the hotel he's building in competition with Tommel Castle Hotel (owned by Colonel Halburton-Smythe, father of Hamish's on- and off-girlfriend Priscilla), complicates matters. Hamish continues to withhold the villagers' secrets from his superiors, losing his sergeant's stripes but pinning down Fergus's killer, with the solution to the second murder not far behind. Read full book review >
THE SKELETON IN THE CLOSET by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: March 1, 2001

"Confused plotting and uninspired characters make for an easy-to-read, easy-to-forget excursion: not quite up to Beaton's usual standard. "
In a rare departure from her usual fictional sleuths, Hamish MacBeth and Agatha Raisin, Beaton here introduces Fellworth Dolphin, the painfully shy, insecure, 40-ish son of penny-pinching, recently deceased parents. His father Charles was a signalman at the time of a still talked-about train robbery some years back. When Fell discovers a substantial trove of cash hidden in the house and is told by local lawyers that his mother had left him a small fortune, he begins to explore the details of that train robbery, his interest shared by Maggie Partlett, a waitress he'd met while working in the local hotel. Maggie now shares his house, providing protection from his smothering Aunt Agnes, who had threatened to move in. There's a sudden appearance of Andy Briggs, son of one of the men convicted of the robbery. He wants money from Fell, claiming to have proof of his father's participation in the crime. The confrontation turns violent; Briggs departs, leaving Fell and Maggie to continue their probing, uncovering in the process the identity of Fell's true parents and the source of that long-concealed income. There are more repercussions when Fell begins to suspect retired Inspector Rudfern of complicity in the robbery he was investigating. That confrontation has a tragic aftermath, but it provides some answers even as Fell and Maggie's relationship takes fire. Read full book review >
AGATHA RAISIN AND THE FAIRIES OF FAM by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: June 1, 2000

Bereft, as she thinks, of James Lacey, the love of her life, drolly blunt Agatha Raisin (Agatha Raisin and the Witch of Wyckhadden, 1999, etc.) begins her tenth acid cozy by following a fortuneteller's advice: she ups and moves to Lavender Cottage in the Norfolk village of Fryfam, where her missing vase is only the latest of a series of mysteriously vanished objects. But not everything in Fryfam disappears. There's quite a show of dancing lights at the bottom of Agatha's back garden; one of her new neighbors turns up dead; and indomitable James will return as well. Read full book review >
AGATHA RAISIN AND THE WITCH OF WYCKHADDEN by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Dec. 1, 1999

Even before the gentle mayhem kicks in, Agatha Raisin seems to be at the end of her rope. Retired once more from p.r. work (Agatha Raisin and the Wellspring of Death, 1998, etc.), she's still living in Carsely village, still smarting from her rejection by her neighbor and sometime partner James Lacey, and now rendered half-bald by the ministrations of a vengeful hairdresser. No surprise, then, that she opts to adjourn for the winter to the seaside town of Wyckhadden, where the few elderly guests at the Garden Hotel spend their time at Scrabble and gossip. Daisy Jones, one of the group, is madly in love with Colonel Lyche and equally, but more platonically, addicted to sessions with a pair of local witches—Francie and her daughter, Janine. Their lotions help repair Agatha's hair loss, but her gain is their grievous loss: Francie is found battered to death; Janine, drowned. Inspector Jimmy Jessop, on the case, is attracted to Agatha, yet soon after their engagement is announced in the Times, Jimmy finds Agatha in a compromising position with her old friend Sir Charles Frail, who's just passing through town. Even when Agatha finally solves the mystery of the witches— deaths, the triumph brings her no joy, for reasons only the most patient readers will care to discover. Silly circumstances evoke equally silly behavior, not only from the quaintly eccentric locals but also from a detective who ought to know better. Read full book review >
A HIGHLAND CHRISTMAS by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Nov. 3, 1999

Christmas is only a week away in Lubdoch, Scotland, but Constable Hamish MacBeth, the village's sole lawman (Death of an Addict, p. 574, etc.), expects no time off. The Calvinist tenor of the area discourages holiday glitter, and Hamish isn't too surprised when the Christmas lights on the main street of neighboring Cnothan are stolen. He must also deal with the disappearance of Smokey, Mrs. Gallagher's cat, vanished despite the profusion of locks and bolts on the Gallagher house. A visit to Mrs. Dunwiddy, former owner of the house, living in a nursing home, reveals a violent husband in Mrs. Gallagher's past. The visit also inspires Hamish to arrange some Christmas entertainment for the depressed residents with the help of eager Charlie and Bella Underwood, old friends and onetime vaudeville stars. There's yet another good deed in the works for Hamish, having to do with lonesome little Morag Anderson, Morag's moralistic, uptight parents, and Smokey the cat. Only the appearance of Insp. Blair, Hamish's longtime enemy, on the warpath as usual, casts a pall, but not for long. A charmingly illustrated Christmas fable sure to please Hamish's legion of fans and likely to make a few new ones. Read full book review >
AGATHA RAISIN AND THE WIZARD OF EVESHAM by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: April 9, 1999

Agatha Raisin, the author's self-absorbed heroine, gets trouble from all sides this time out (Agatha Raisin and The Wellspring of Death, 1998, etc.). Living now in the village of Carsely after retirement from a p.r. career in London, Agatha finds her love life in shreds. James Lacey, her neighbor and onetime suitor, has left town without a goodbye. Detective Bill Wong, her friend and sometime fellow sleuth, is on holiday and hasn't bothered to call. Even the off/on interest of Sir Charles Fraith is casual and tepid. On top of all this, Agatha discovers gray in her hair. So it's off to Evesham and the salon of Mr. John, called a wizard by his customers, although some of them seem almost afraid of him. Agatha is the willing target of Mr. John's blue-eyed charisma, to the point of discussing a possible partnership with him. Then one day in his salon Mr. John collapses and dies—of an exotic poison, as it turns out. Agatha grabs the chance to steal his keys and search his house, looking for clues, and barely escapes with her life when the place goes up in flames. Now Charles joins Agatha in a round of nosy interviews with Mr. John's customers, one of whom becomes a second murder victim. Agatha finally pinpoints the killer, but Sir Charles gets the credit—a final cruel blow. Agatha grows ever more charmless, and Beaton's plotting ever more absurd. Perhaps this heroine would benefit from a long, very long vacation. Read full book review >
AGATHA RAISIN AND THE WELLSPRING OF DEATH by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: July 9, 1998

A sillier than usual chapter in the life of Agatha Raisin (Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist, 1997, etc.), now retired from her public-relations job and living in the Cotswolds village of Carsely. The appearance of Agatha's husband (since deceased) just as she was to marry James Lacy, her icy neighbor and partner in sleuthdom, has soured that relationship, and Agatha, now bored and lonely, accepts a p.r. job with the Ancombe Water Company, run by brothers Peter and Guy Freemont. The two plan to sell mineral water from a spring in Ancombe, not far from Carsely, on land owned by Robina Toynbee. The villagers are bitterly divided on the idea, even more so after Agatha discovers the body of Robert Struthers, chairman and deciding vote of the Ancombe Parish Council, killed by a blow to the head. Agatha's p.r. efforts continue unabated, as does her casual affair with Guy Freemont. Then, at the height of the campaign's celebratory fàte, Robina, frightened by threatening letters and about to renege on her leasing arrangement, is also found murdered. Agatha and James get together at last to quiz the villagers and report, as usual, to Detective Bill Wong, eventually putting him on the right track but never recovering that old romantic feeling. Fond feelings are in short supply all round, with Mrs. Bloxby, the vicar's wife, the least obnoxious female (or male, for that matter) in residence. The unexplained rancor of all the others makes as much sense as the addled plot or the contrived clues that end it all. Even Agatha's devoted fans may want to sit out this one. Read full book review >
DEATH OF A SCRIPTWRITER by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: June 21, 1998

Once more to the Scottish Highlands and a new puzzle for Hamish MacBeth (Death of a Dentist, 1997, etc.), Lochdubh's one-man police force. On a mountainside not far from Lochdubh is Castle Drim, where a crew from Strathclyde Television is filming The Case of the Rising Tides, written by Patricia Martyn-Broyd, an icy but vulnerable snob living in nearby Cnothan. Her books have long been out of print, but her pride in the TV production is short-lived when she becomes aware that scriptwriter Jamie Gallagher is a hack; director Harry Frame will do anything for ratings; and Penelope Gates, playing Lady Harriet, the story's detective, is a soft-porn star with no objection to X-rated scenes. There's plenty of tension on the set, with Gallagher's constant threats to fire aides Fiona King and Sheila Buford, and with locals vying for places in crowd scenes and one-line parts. When Gallagher is found murdered, his head bashed in, Detective Chief Inspector Blair, Hamish's despised superior, is quick to pronounce Penelope's jealous husband Josh Gates (found conveniently dead by the police) the culprit. Hamish has doubts about Gates's guilt but keeps a low profile until a second killing sets him quietly on the true murderer's track. In this sloppily plotted outing, Hamish's sleuthing skill is vindicated by results, but his love-life remains depressingly nonexistent. Downbeat, too, is the portrayal of grim villages and their sour inhabitants. Still, Hamish's amiable persona manages to keep it all together, at least for his legion of ardent fans. Read full book review >
AGATHA RAISIN AND THE TERRIBLE TOURIST by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Oct. 14, 1997

The marriage of ex-public relations whiz Agatha Raisin to cold, enigmatic James Lacey, who lives next door to her retirement cottage in the Cotswold village of Carsely, has fallen through (Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage, 1996, etc.). James has taken off for Cyprus, the planned site of their aborted honeymoon, and Agatha, incomprehensibly, takes off after him, Soon after her arrival, on a day cruise in the harbor at Kyrenia, she meets an oddly mixed group of tourists—aristocratic Olivia Debenham, her broker husband George, and their older friend Harry Tembleton— spending much of their time in the company of low-class, tarty Rose Wilcox, her hard-drinking husband Trevor, and their elderly friend Angus King. Agatha has tracked down James and, on a platonic basis, is sharing his rented house. They've joined the oddball group at a disco one night when Rose is stabbed to death and Agatha and James are detained and questioned by Detective Inspector Lyall Pamir. A second murder in the group arouses all of Agatha's detecting fervor. She gets background info on them from her policeman friend Bill Wong in England; escapes a couple of attacks on her own life; plays around a bit with vacationing long time acquaintance Sir Charles Fraith; and bemoans James's disappearance just as she solves the case. None of this nonsense can be taken seriously, least of all Agatha's obsession with the thoroughly off-putting James or plotting as full of holes as Swiss cheese. Only the author's blithe and breezy style and some interest in the historic sights of northern Cyprus could inspire most readers to stay the course. Read full book review >
DEATH OF A DENTIST by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Aug. 5, 1997

Hamish Macbeth, the one-man police force of Lochdubh, a village in the Scottish Highlands (Death of a Macho Man, 1996, etc.), wakes up one morning with a toothache that drives him to Dr. Gilchrist, a butcher of a dentist in nearby Braikie. Arriving for his appointment, Hamish finds Maggie Bane, the receptionist, absent and the dentist dead—poisoned, as it turns out, and seated in the patient's chair, each of his teeth drilled. Hamish's superior and archenemy, Detective Chief Inspector Blair, at headquarters in Strathbane, wants no help from Hamish, so he must conduct his inquiries stealthily. He has the help of Sarah Hudson, a friend of Hamish's onetime love Priscilla Halburton-Smythe. Sarah knows how to use Hamish's computer to hack into police records at headquarters. Meanwhile, Hamish does his legwork—talking to Maggie, Blair's chief suspect; to Gilchrist's ex-wife in Inverness; to Kylie Fraser, a tarty clerk at the local pharmacy—exploring Gilchrist's womanizing reputation and trying to make a connection between his death and a recent big-bucks robbery at the sleazy Scotsman hotel where even the manager's slatternly wife was an early conquest of Gilchrist's. Matters are further complicated by rumors of a massive illegal that's still being run by the vile Smiley brothers. This one gets Hamish into trouble, big-time, and brings a rescue by Sarah, but not until another murder is committed do all the loose ends come together. An unusually energetic Hamish (in this 13th appearance): a cast of engaging locals with full-blown Highland accents, and a mildly intriguing storyline provide comfort food for Hamish's many fans. Read full book review >
AGATHA RAISIN AND THE MURDEROUS MARRIAGE by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Nov. 11, 1996

Beaton, author of the often crisp and stylish Hamish MacBeth stories, seems to lose her cool whenever she turns to the exploits of the abrasive sleuth Agatha Raisin (Agatha Raisin and the Walkers of Dembley, 1995, etc.). This fifth in the series finds Agatha, onetime London p.r. hotshot, on the verge of marriage to James Lacey, a reticent ex-army officer who lives next door to her in the Cotswold village of Carsely. Agatha has sold her house to the unfriendly Mr. Hardy and, typically, refuses to face the fact that Jimmy Raisin, her long-unheard-from sot of a husband, may not be dead. Jimmy, however, alerted by Agatha's friendly enemy Roy Silver, turns up just in time to abort the wedding and worse, is later found strangled in a local ditch. The police, including Agatha's pal Bill Wong, don't move fast enough for our heroine, who teams up with Lacey to investigate Jimmy's blackmailing past, centered on a ritzy health spa and a long defunct charity headed by Mrs. Gore-Appleton. Their nervy, adolescent forays—lies, disguises, breakins—leave a string of fatalities in their wake, until Agatha faces the enemy closer to home, and with some help from the despised police, manages to survive, and to triumph. Careless, arbitrary plotting and much tiresome exploration of the emotional turmoil suffered by tough-as-nails Agatha. Strictly for adoring fans. Read full book review >
DEATH OF A MACHO MAN by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: June 18, 1996

Hamish Macbeth, one-man police force of Lochdubh village in the Scottish Highlands, is in trouble again (Death of a Nag, 1995, etc.), with archenemy Chief Inspector Blair still trying to orchestrate his downfall. For some time, the village has been home to one Randy Duggan, nicknamed Macho Man, whose past is mysterious and who regales the bar regulars with tales of his wrestling triumphs—his massive fists ready for action at the slightest provocation. Hamish has accepted his challenge to a fight (strictly against regulations), and the whole village comes out to watch. When Duggan fails to show, it's fisherman Archie MacLean who finds him in his cottage—hands bound, shot to death. Hamish does his best to scout Duggan's true identity and questions the villagers who had close contact with him, as well as the newcomer Rosie Draly, a romance author rumored to be writing a detective story. Days after that interview, Hamish finds Draly stabbed to death, her computer disks destroyed. Draly's killer is soon nailed, thanks to Hamish's persistence in tracking the evidence, and confesses to Duggan's murder as well. The police brass are satisfied but not Hamish. He carries on his own investigation in disguise, going all the way to Glasgow, where he finds another corpse; commandeers a civilian plane back to Lochdubh; and arrives just in time to save the life of sometime girlfriend Priscilla Halburton-Smythe, and to wind up the case—his way. The rambling, shambling plot has some suspenseful patches; Lochdubh's locals are as entertaining as ever; and Hamish is at his charming, exasperating best. Mid-level Beaton, and that's not bad. Read full book review >
DEATH OF A NAG by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: July 3, 1995

A broken engagement (has he truly finished with Priscilla Halburton-Smythe?) and a demotion from sergeant to constable have lowered the usually cheerful spirits of Hamish Macbeth, the entire police force of Lochdubh village in Scotland (Death of a Charming Man, 1994, etc.). For this 11th outing, he decides to cheer himself up by spending overdue vacation time in the seaside town of Skag, settling, with dog Towser, into a very modest boardinghouse on the beach. The food is terrible, and the other guests are unprepossessing: nasty Bob Harris and dispirited wife Doris, who's the chief target of Bob's verbal abuse; spinsterish retired teacher Miss Gunnery; June and Dermott Brett with their three children; retired military man Andrew Biggar; and Tracey and Cheryl, a pair of tough-talking, heavily made-up twentysomethings from Glasgow. It's a dreary, boring scene for Hamish until, walking on the town pier one day, he spots the body of Bob Harris in the water — drowned after a blow to the head. Within days, there's another killing, and the local police ask Hamish to help. There are prime suspects among his fellow guests, none of whom are quite what they seem. But imaginative sleuthing and Hamish's on-target intuition again provide the neat solution, and our hero returns thankfully to Lochdubh, serene again despite an unexpected loss of his own. One of the better outings in this comfy-as-an-old-shoe series. Read full book review >
AGATHA RAISIN AND THE WALKERS OF DEMBLEY by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: April 21, 1995

A rather bedraggled fourth excursion for retired p.r. woman/amateur sleuth Agatha Raisin. She's happy to return to her thatched cottage in Carsely after a stint in London, still hoping for some serious affection from bachelor neighbor James Lacey, her partner in previous investigations (Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener, 1994, etc.). Meanwhile, in nearby Dembley, a group of walkers headed by pugnacious Jessica Tartinck is busily engaged in fighting landowners over rights-of-way for their country rambles. Challenged about one of his fields, Sir Charles Fraith of Barfield House sends a polite invitation for tea to the group, accepted only by mousy schoolteacher Deborah Camden, who proves attractive to Sir Charles but anathema to his houseman, Gustav. When Jessica is found dead in the contested field, Deborah asks Agatha's help, and Agatha's policeman friend Bill Wong encourages her and Lacey to join the Dembley Walkers — a motley group that includes Jessica's ex-lover Jeffrey — to find out what they can. Sir Charles and Deborah become an item of sorts, and a second walker is found dead, before Raisin and Lacey, hot on the wrong track, manage to effect a last-minute rescue that uncovers the culprit. With its near-perfunctory narrative style, aimless detours and endless cups of tea, this isn't one of Beaton's better efforts, but Agatha's romantic dreams may soon be fulfilled. Read full book review >
DEATH OF A CHARMING MAN by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Sept. 1, 1994

Or is he really dead? The official word on irresistible philanderer Peter Hynd is that he slipped out of his house in the sleepy Scottish village of Drim in the middle of the night, leaving behind a bevy of broken-hearted matrons. But Lochdubh Sgt. Hamish Macbeth (Death of a Travelling Man, 1993, etc.), whose beat includes Drim, is convinced that Peter is dead, even though the broken body that's found at the foot of a cliff is that of besotted housewife Betty Baxter. Suspicious of the phone call that lured Betty out to the cliff for a last rendezvous with Peter, Hamish, in an uncharacteristic fit of industry, affronts both his official superiors and his unofficial fiance, Priscilla Halburton-Smythe (already angry that Hamish has responded to her own brief flirtation with Peter by taking up with Sophy Bisset, the new receptionist at her father's hotel), by spending his vacation alone at Drim, where he noses out clues among such suspects as Betty's husband, who attacked his late wife with a codfish, and their unnervingly maternal daughter. A remarkable spate of activity for the usually indolent Hamish — he also thwarts a burglary, faces down a wife-beater, and gets charged with police brutality — makes this his most spirited outing in years. It just shows how much even the laziest man will exert himself to keep from getting married and promoted. Read full book review >
AGATHA RAISIN AND THE POTTED GARDENER by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Aug. 19, 1994

Beaton, author of the Hamish MacBeth stories, offers another anemic adventure for second-string sleuth Agatha Raisin. Agatha, a retired PR whiz, has opted to live in the tiny Cotswold village of Carsely. Returning to her cats and cottage after some extensive (and lonely) travel, she finds most of the villagers, including her eligible neighbor, James Lacey, enthralled with newcomer Mary Fortune—a beautiful blonde divorcee who's also a super organizer, gardener, and cook. Agatha, besieged by her massive insecurities, arranges an elaborate hoax to stun the village with her gardening skills while Mary slowly reveals a side that's not so beguiling. One day she's found murdered in her greenhouse—possibly the climax to a series of acts of vandalism plaguing the village. Agatha and James team up as before (Agatha Raisin and the Vicious Vet, 1993, etc.) to find the culprit, just ahead of police detective Bill Wong. The absurd plot gets no help here from the author's literary style—as blunt and unpolished as her heroine—or from the story's underdeveloped characters. A mildly cozy but totally forgettable excursion—strictly for forgiving fans. Read full book review >
DEATH OF A TRAVELLING MAN by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Dec. 7, 1993

Sergeant Hamish MacBeth, until now the entire police force in the Scottish village of Lubdoch (Death of a Glutton, etc.), is feeling beleaguered. By way of promotion authorities in Strathbane have sent him Constable Willie Lamont, to share his duties and his cozy quarters, incidentally destroying Hamish's comfort with his obsessive cleaning and polishing. Moreover, the town has become home to handsome drifter Sean Gourlay and his foulmouthed girlfriend Cheryl Higgins, living on land behind the local minister's manse, with his ill-judged permission. Reports of stolen drugs, money missing from church funds, and Cheryl's sudden departure are preliminaries to the discovery of Sean's battered corpse. Hamish finds motives aplenty as he tries to protect the reputations of several village matrons until he traps the killer, and even manages to become engaged to on-again, off-again longtime love Priscilla Halburton-Smythe. Prosaic solution aside, readers will relish a well-paced, warmly sentimental picture of the people—and the character and rich accents—of Lubdoch, as seen through Hamish's loving eyes. Unpretentious fun for all. Read full book review >
AGATHA RAISIN AND THE VICIOUS VET by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Aug. 16, 1993

Fifty-ish Agatha Raisin, the author's amateur second-string sleuth (Hamish MacBeth being the pro), has yet to feel comfortably settled in the Cotswold village of Carsely, where neighboring bachelor James Lacey eludes her romantic overtures and life is dull (Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death, 1992). The arrival of handsome vet Paul Bladen, however, provides a new object for the chase—until he dies of an injection meant for the horse he was about to operate on. Agatha is sure it was murder, not accident, and sets about talking to everyone who had dealings with Bladen, most of them women he was conning out of money for a never-to-be- built veterinary hospital—a scheme his partner, Peter Rice, seemed unaware of. Lacey, bored with the military history he's trying to write, joins in Agatha's detecting forays—proving to be considerably more adept than she. A second death and the kidnapping of Agatha's cats lead her, solo, to a near-fatal meeting with a killer. Clumsy plotting, a clutch of listless characters, and the singularly charmless Agatha Raisin—in one of Beaton's least attractive outings. Read full book review >
DEATH OF A GLUTTON by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: April 15, 1993

Maria Worth, half owner of an exclusive matrimonial agency called Checkmates Singles Club, has set up a weeklong stay for a small group of members at Tommel Castle Hotel in the Scottish Highlands. The hotel is run by Priscilla Halburton-Smythe, longtime unrequited love of P.C. Hamish MacBeth, one-man police force of nearby Lubdoch village (Death of a Prankster, etc.). Maria's careful plans are disrupted, however, by the unexpected appearance of her unwanted business partner, Peta Gore, with sultry airhead niece Crystal in tow. Peta, a widow with millions, has refused Maria's attempts to buy her out. An obese glutton, she proceeds to instill unease and disgust in guests and staff. No surprise, then, when she's found dead in a nearby quarry, and certainly none when Hamish—working, as always, around his thickheaded superior Inspector Blair—solves the case, aided by a trumped-up last-minute stratagem. Beaton's cleareyed skewering of the locals and her way with the Scots dialect are right on—but the paper-thin major characters, the caricature of a victim, and the silly plot just don't make it. Harmless diversion for Hamish's fans, but unlikely to make new ones. Read full book review >
AGATHA RAISIN AND THE QUICHE OF DEATH by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Dec. 7, 1992

The pretty Cotswold village of Carsely, where 20-year residents are called "incomers," is the retirement choice of fiftysomething p.r. career woman Agatha Raisin, fulfilling a lifelong thatched-cottaga dream. Gruff, tough, but not stupid, Agatha begins to soften her image—to the extent of entering a spinach quiche in Carsely's annual "best quiche" competition, buying one in London to pass off as her own. It doesn't win—but is taken home by Mr. Cummings-Browne, the judge and a noted philanderer. He eats it and dies, to be found next morning by his snobbish wife Vera. The police pinpoint cowbane as the poison and call it an accident. But Agatha is sure there's murder afoot and nearly loses her own life before she proves it. A mildly entertaining look at insular village life, but Agatha never attains the exasperating charm of the author's Hamish Macbeth (Death of a Prankster, p. 500, etc.), and the rather bloodless puzzle is sidetracked by Agatha's ambivalence toward the lifestyle she's chosen. Placidly diverting. Read full book review >
DEATH OF A PRANKSTER by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: June 1, 1992

A feeble new adventure for Scottish constable Hamish MacBeth of Lochdubh village (Death of a Snob, etc.). Smart, sweet, and totally unambitious Hamish is confronted with the murder of millionaire Andrew Trent—a cruel, near-certifiable practical-joker whose family had gathered in response to the message that he was dying. Just one more joke, of course—but someone had had enough, and the old man was found stabbed to death in what looked like the execution of still another prank. His adopted son Charles; spinster daughters Angela and Betty; brother Jeffrey; Jeffrey's grasping wife Jan; her mother-fixated son Paul; and a couple of unrelated tag-alongs, as well as the Spanish houseman and cook—all are subjected to the lashing interrogations of Hamish's despised superior, Inspector Blair, who gets nowhere. It takes a second murder—plus a bright idea from Hamish's friend Priscilla—to sort it all out. A clumsily contrived puzzle, full of unreal characters, artificial dialogue, and a surprisingly harmless Hamish. Beaton coasting. Read full book review >
DEATH OF A SNOB by M.C. Beaton
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: July 23, 1991

It's Christmastime in Lochdubh village, where Hamish Macbeth continues to serve as the town's only policeman. Feeling lonely and put upon as usual, (Death of an Outsider, etc.), Hamish accepts the invitation of Jane Wetherby to spend the holiday at her health farm on the remote island of Eileencraig, perhaps to find what's behind two nasty accidents Jane has recently survived. The islanders are hostile, the other guests mostly a trial. When one of them—insufferable Heather Todd, wearing Jane's slicker—is found dead on the shoreline in what appears to be an accident, Hamish's instincts go into overdrive. With the help of fellow guest Harriet Shaw, he discovers a not-too-convincing motive and modus operandi for a rather unlikely killer. Lively pictures of insular island characters and Jane's sometimes difficult, narcissistic friends, along with Hamish's enduring charm, make the disjointed plotting here secondary—at least for Beaton's devoted fans. Read full book review >
DEATH OF A HUSSY by M.C. Beaton
Released: Dec. 13, 1990

Maggie Baird is a newcomer to the highlands village of Lochdub, but she organizes a successful campaign to get Hamish MacBeth, the town's lone policeman, returned to the community from Strathbane, an ugly town where officialdom had sent him. Abrasive Maggie—twice-married, once a high—priced member of the demimonde—has prospered, retired, and run to fat. In a rare moment of compassion, she's taken into her home wimpy niece Alison Kerr, who's recovering from lung cancer. Another impulse propels her to leave Alison and housekeeper Mrs. Todd for several months of dieting and plastic surgery. Maggie comes back svelte and attractive, determined to marry again. To that end, she gathers four former swains at her house, all of them in need of money, and declares her intention to make a choice after their two-week stay; she also says that she'll change her will, which now favors Alison, to benefit whoever wins her hand. A few days later, she's dead—of a heart attack in her car, which had suddenly burst into flame. Hamish is now burdened in his investigation with a new nemesis from central headquarters, but, needless to say, it's Hamish who wraps this one up—while Alison finds romance, and Hamish's prospects with aristocratic Priscilla seem to be looking up. A heavily contrived plot and too many archly cute situations make this less than Beaton's best, but there's still plenty of lighthearted enjoyment to be had here. Read full book review >
DEATH OF A HUSSY by M.C. Beaton
Released: Dec. 13, 1990

Maggie Baird is a newcomer to the highlands village of Lochdub, but she organizes a successful campaign to get Hamish MacBeth, the town's lone policeman, returned to the community from Strathbane, an ugly town where officialdom had sent him. Abrasive Maggie—twice-married, once a high—priced member of the demimonde—has prospered, retired, and run to fat. In a rare moment of compassion, she's taken into her home wimpy niece Alison Kerr, who's recovering from lung cancer. Another impulse propels her to leave Alison and housekeeper Mrs. Todd for several months of dieting and plastic surgery. Maggie comes back svelte and attractive, determined to marry again. To that end, she gathers four former swains at her house, all of them in need of money, and declares her intention to make a choice after their two-week stay; she also says that she'll change her will, which now favors Alison, to benefit whoever wins her hand. A few days later, she's dead—of a heart attack in her car, which had suddenly burst into flame. Hamish is now burdened in his investigation with a new nemesis from central headquarters, but, needless to say, it's Hamish who wraps this one up—while Alison finds romance, and Hamish's prospects with aristocratic Priscilla seem to be looking up. A heavily contrived plot and too many archly cute situations make this less than Beaton's best, but there's still plenty of lighthearted enjoyment to be had here. Read full book review >
DEATH OF A PERFECT WIFE by M.C. Beaton
Released: Dec. 8, 1989

There are new arrivals in Lochdubh, the Highlands village where police officer Hamish MacBeth represents law and order (Death of a Cad), and Hamish senses trouble. Paul and Trixie Thomas, English and pleading poverty, have taken over a decaying Victorian villa and plan to take in paying guests. Paul, obese and good-natured, seems totally dependent on Trixie—a handsome dynamo into health food, clean houses, and scrounging the neighborhood for objects to see at a profit, unknown to their charitable donors. But Trixie's energetic espousal of a variety of causes—from antismoking to saving bats—rouses the placid women of the village, alienates the men, and upsets old, established relationships. The town's Dr. Brodie—a fan of junk food, cheap wine and cigarettes, who loves his wife Angela despite her careless housekeeping and terrible cooking—hardly recognizes wife and home when Trixie gets through with them, driving him to thoughts of divorce. Other households suffer upheavals, and so Hamish isn't too shocked when Trixie is found dead of arsenic poisoning. His obnoxious superior, Inspector Blair, promptly arrests John Parker, a boarder at the Thomas house who turns out to be Trixie's ex-husband, but Blair is way off track. In his easygoing fashion, Hamish winkles out the true culprit and also discovers that his own longtime obsession with aristocratic, ambitious Priscilla Halburton-Smythe has been vanquished. The mildly intriguing puzzle takes a back seat, as usual, to Hamish's quiet strength and lively sketches of local characters and village ways. Hamish and Lochdubh continue to charm in a gentle entertainment. Read full book review >
DEATH OF AN OUTSIDER by M.C. Beaton
Released: Dec. 19, 1988

Another case for charming Scottish constable Hamish MacBeth (Death of a Cad, etc.), this time away from his beloved village of Loch Dubh, doing a three-month stint as relief to Sergeant MacGregor in the gray, bleak crofting town of Cnothan. Homesickness and longing for the unattainable Priscilla Halburton-Smythe are soon overtaken by a strong attraction to another outsider, landscape-painter Jenny Lovelace—and by the gruesome murder of William Mainwaring, an Englishman the whole town loves to hate. The bizarre circumstances of his death pose a public-relations problem for boorish, not-too-bright Detective Chief Inspector Blair, brought in to direct the investigation. He's eager to pin the murder on town-drunk Sandy Carmichael—until Carmichael is found dead, a second victim. Meanwhile, Mainwaring's boozing wife; realtor Harry McKay; Mrs. Struthers, the minister's wife; and Jamie Ross, prosperous owner of the local fish-and-lobster plant, all had reason to hate and fear Mainwaring—but Hamish carries his inquiries to Edinburgh and returns with a solid case against a double killer. The puzzle is a little too patly solved, but some vividly drawn characters, a sharp evocation of a sour town, and Hamish's warmth and dry wit make for easy-going enjoyment. Read full book review >
DEATH OF A GOSSIP by M.C. Beaton
Released: March 1, 1985

The setting is the Scottish Highlands, the detective is laid-back village constable Hamish MacBeth—and those are, alas, just about the only pluses in this awkwardly written mystery. The murder victim: Lady Jane Winters, a bullying gossip columnist who's attending the local fishing school (this is salmon and trout country)—and loudly broadcasts the fact that she knows something hidden and unsavory about each of her fellow students. So, after Lady Jane turns up dead in a fishing pool, strangled with casting line, officious Inspector Blair can find motives for all the class members: wimpy secretary Alice Wilson, who's out to snare smarmy lawyer Jeremy Blythe. . . who has his eye on heiress Daphne Gore, who. . . well, you get the idea. But it's slow-moving, red-haired Hamish, of course, who nails down the culprit—in a resolution that's as ponderous as amiable Hamish himself. Clumsily plotted, overall, and told with an amateur air. Read full book review >