Saturday, February 25, 2012

Death of a Kingfisher by M.C. Beaton

Opening sentences: 
"It is a well-known fact that just when a man reaches his early thirties and thinks he is past love, that is when love turns the corner and knocks the feet from under him.

That was what was about to happen to Police Sergeant Hamish Macbeth.  But on a particularly fine sunny day when the mountains of Sutherland in the northwest of Scotland stood up blue against the even bluer sky and not a ripple moved on the surface of the sea loch in the front of the village of Lochdubh, he was blissfully unaware of what the fates had in store for him."

The blurb:
When Scotland is hit by the recession, Police Constable Hamish Macbeth notices that the Highland people are forced to come up with inventive ways to lure tourists to their sleepy towns. The quaint village of Braikie doesn't have much to offer, other than a place of rare beauty called Buchan's Wood, which was bequeathed to the town. The savvy local tourist director renames the woods "The Fairy Glen," and has brochures printed with a beautiful photograph of a kingfisher rising from a pond on the cover.

It isn't long before coach tours begin to arrive. But just as the town's luck starts to turn, a kingfisher is found hanging from a branch in the woods with a noose around its neck. As a wave of vandalism threatens to ruin Braikie forever, the town turns to Hamish Macbeth. And when violence strikes again,the lawman's investigation quickly turns from animal cruelty to murder.

Death of a Kingfisher, the latest Hamish Macbeth mystery is one of my favorites. M.C. Beaton brings back the usual cast of characters, including Hamish Macbeth's old love interests, and introduces new characters that add much to the series.   Hamish's new constable, Dick Fraser,  formerly of Strathbane, was sent to to Hamish's small police station in Lochdubh and was "marking time until his retirement."  Described as a "lazy, grey-haired man, but with an amiable disposition, and since he'd arrived in Lochdubh a month ago there had been no crime at all, which suited him very well."  With Dick's overall lack of athleticism, it is a surprise to Hamish that Dick seems to know quite a lot about things that happen in the village and characters in it. Dick also has a photographic memory, which soon comes in handy.

Another character new to the area, the elderly and wealthy widow, Mrs. Colchester, who purchased a hunting lodge from the estate of Lord Growther proves to be an important character.  Mrs. Colchester is angered by the fact that Lord Growther's Buchan's Wood, which is adjacent to her home, was left to the town of Braikie and has been converted into a tourist attraction called "Fairy Glen."  It's easy enough to see why she'd find the busloads of tourists and sudden commercialization hard to swallow. Buchan's Wood is an idyllic spot with all sorts of flora and fauna, including graceful kingfishers. 

The old Buchan's Wood, newly rechristened Fairy's Glen is managed by the beautiful, strawberry blonde Mary Leinster.  Mary has won over Mrs. Colchester with her ability to predict the future and the rescue of Mrs. Colchester's grandchild.  But when a kingfisher is found dead and hanging in Fairy's Glen, Macbeth soon finds himself investigating all sorts of strange happenings in the area.

M.C. Beaton's storytelling skills soon have us trailing along as Hamish Macbeth investigates the kingfisher's death, theft, murder, and possible blackmail in the quiet Scottish village.  Those who enjoy a good mystery and detective cozy will surely find Death of a Kingfisher a delightful escape.

ISBN-10: 0446547360 - Hardcover $24.99
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (February 22, 2012), 256 pages.
Review copy provided by Net Galley and the publisher.

About the Author:
M.C. Beaton lives in the Cotswolds with her husband. In addition to the Hamish Macbeth series, she writes the Agatha Raisin mystery series.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, would I love to get my hands on a copy of this. Hamish is one of my favorite characters in the cozy series.