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==Synopsis of the book:==
Christmas is rapidly approaching in the quiet town of Lochdubh in the Highlands of Scotland. However there is little Christmas cheer in the air as many of the residents refuse to celebrate this time of year and so few signs can be found of this special time of year. Especially as thieves have stolen the big Christmas tree and all the lights from a nearby village. This brings Police Constable Hamish Macbeth into investigate, in an attempt to bring a little cheer back to this stark looking place.
Hamish already was trying to find a lonely and unpopular spinsters cat. The lady, Mrs Gallagher had made little effort to get on with the local people and very much kept herself to herself. Hamish is surprises by her very careful security and the fact this women seems afraid of something but when questioned about it she just gets angry with him. He agrees to try and help her find her pet but realistically isn't sure what he can do other than enlist some school Children to help and put up a missing poster. Hamish himself is dreading Christmas as having split up from his girlfriend he too feels the Christmas message is lost on him and all those around him.
==My thought on the novel:==
I found this to be a gentle but enjoyable crime mystery. However it is one of the shortest mysteries that I think I have ever read. It professes to be 192 pages long in paperback format but the last 40 or so pages are an introduction to the next story in the series, so in honest I felt a little short changed when I completed it. Especially as I had already read the one that was being introduced to the reader. It made me wonder with short a short story why it was not expanded upon or put with another short story that the author could have made up.
Anyone who has recently read my reviews will know I have reviewed several stories from the Hamish Macbeth series. There are currently 29 books in this series and this was the 16th of them first published in 1999. This series has also been successfully transferred to television, which is where I first heard of this character. For me the books are better as there is far more humour in them and for me more seemed to be happening in them. This author M.C.Beaton has also written another 23 stories in the equally popular Agatha Raisin series of mysteries.
I have been studying these pasts few weeks and I have a few more weeks to go, so for my read this week I did not want anything to complex or heavy. I knew I wanted a crime thriller as those are my favourite types of book but it would need to be an easy read. That is basically why I purchased this paperback as experience in this series has taught me these tend to be well thought out stories that do not challenge the reader too much, almost to me like a holiday book that is light and you do not have to concentrate to much to follow and enjoy it.
Before I bought the book I as I always do read the summary to see what it was all about. This book is slightly different from the rest of the Hamish Macbeth series as all the rest in their titles start with 'Death of '. So I hoped given the title it was not of Father Christmas!! I flicked the book over to look for the summary but instead I found general praise for this series of stories from three separate sources, nice but not that much use to someone who has read several of the series so far!! But useful if this is your first introduction to these stories as it gives a little of the favour you can expect.
For me the summary was nearly as long as the story itself!! Yes I am being very sarcastic when I say that but the summary was an excellent length and really set the scene for the story itself. It was three good sized paragraphs long and if anything it gave a little too much of what was happening in the Highlands that Macbeth was responsible for. As there was little else going on but what the author had told us in this summary.
The story was very easy to get into and I like the relaxed and informative way the author brings the reader right up to date with what is happening both in Lochdubh and in Hamish's life be it his work or private life. This makes the book very easy to enjoy practically from the first page and despite the shortness of the story the author does not scrimp on descriptions of both this beautiful and stark place and the scene Hamish is involved in.
While at the same time I do criticise the author for the fact there is not the depth and the amount of twists in the story. As this story was once again set upon some great concepts but the author could easily have introduced more mystery more goings on that would have made it longer and more complex. But then I was looking for an easy read, the author really cannot win!! The story certainly needed more twists than it got and I kept expecting a good twist or something my dynamic to happen.
That is not to say I did not enjoy this story. I found I had completed it in absolutely no time at all and I had still been entertained by it. I just felt with a title like the book had there was an opportunity to create a more involved story showing the differences between a Highland Christmas and a more traditional one and that the author did not do this as well as she could have done. That said I enjoyed it and it was a well paced story throughout.
As with all stories in this series there was a fair amount of humour within it. Sometimes it was at Hamish Macbeth's expense but it was always cleverly told and I really do appreciate the sometimes subtle wit that comes through. Added to this I do think the writer described these funny situations very well and she often has me chuckling at what is happening, without taking anything away from the seriousness of the mystery.
The story for me flowed very nicely and all the strands of it came together very well. The conclusion I think was my favourite bit as although there was not quite the level of mystery in this story there were still things that Hamish needed to resolve or try to. There were other things additionally happening and these were all excellently brought to a close involving some Christmas cheer and was in keeping with the characters and their personalities within the story.
Hamish Macbeth is clearly the main character in the story. I always find him an entertaining character, I think in part because either he or the locals seem to take him too seriously. You can laugh at his antics at times and the way the locals think of him. I like the way he uses his intelligence to solve mysteries and the way he goes about his business. There is always humour involving him and I love his very poor relationship with his boss as this is also usually very amusing. He is basically a good honest chap who wants to do the job to the best of his abilities and is not interested in career progression.
One feature I always find very amusing and sometimes a little baffling in Hamish relationships. He nearly always seems to be single but there are always ladies that are trying to change that status. He quite often seems oblivious to the fact and the more the lady tries to get closer to him the more humorous the outcome. It certainly adds an extra dimension to the story and makes me wonder if this will be the lady that Hamish will finally marry and settle down with. Added to this because I have read quite a number of the books in this series I have also got to know some of the people that appear in many of these books, these are generally good characters with again certain mannerisms that make them noticeable and often quite funny.
I was very pleased with my choice of book this week as I wanted a good mystery that was not too involved and that is exactly what I got. And having read and enjoyed many of this series I am sure I will continue to do so until I have completed them all. For me a very readable piece that is made very entertaining by all the humour within it.
I found this a good and entertain g crime thriller and one I would recommend is you enjoy this style of book and do not want a too demanding or as I would call it a simple read. For me the best part of these stories is the humour within them but they are also accompanied by a good concept that needs some investigation by Hamish. On the down side I did feel this story was too short and I felt a little cheated that there was so much of the next story in the series told her, especially when I have already read that one!!
Price 4.49 New at Amazon
Year first published: 1999
Thanks for reading my review.
This review is published under my user name on both Ciao and Dooyoo.
© CPTDANIELS August 2013
Marion Chesney has been writing the Hamish Macbeth crime series of books under her pen name of M.C. Beaton since 1985 and her legion of fans will be delighted to see the twenty-ninth book in the series - 'Death of Yesterday' - has recently been released. This book, 'A Highland Christmas', was first published in 1999 and is officially the sixteenth in the series but it's marketed as a stand-alone tale and would therefore prove an excellent starting point for anyone new to the saga of the lazy policeman who patrols the sleepy village of Lochdubh in the Scottish Highlands.
Unlike every other title in the series this one does not feature a dead body (it's the only Macbeth novel whose title doesn't begin with the words 'Death of...'). Perhaps the author decided that murder didn't sit too well within the book's comfortable Christmas theming. Actually, the only cases that Macbeth has to investigate are some stolen festive lights and a missing cat, but as always with M.C. Beaton's crime novels, not everything is as it seems. Hamish's life and the cast of unusual characters who inhabit Lochdubh are as important to the plot as any criminal activity.
This is cosy crime at its finest written by a master craftswoman at the top of her game. If you like your whodunnits gritty, realistic and blood-soaked then this is probably not the book for you. If, however, you fancy something gentle to read with a nice cup of tea before bedtime then you could hardly find a better read.