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.