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.