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Death of a Macho Man - M.C. Beaton

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Paperback: 272 pages / Publisher: Robinson / Published: 28 May 2009 / Language: English

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      06.08.2013 14:12
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      Not the best Macbeth novel, but still better than most cosy whodunnits

      This is the twelfth novel in author M.C. Beaton's Hamish Macbeth murder mystery series set in the sleepy Scottish highlands.

      The Hamish Macbeth books all tend to follow a well-worn and well-loved formula... A newcomer arrives in the village of Lochdubh (pronounced Lock-Doo); they annoy a great many of the locals and some other incomers; after this list of suspects has been assembled the annoying newcomer ends up dead; unorthodox village bobby Hamish Macbeth works out the problem, finds the murderer and has a few complications with his own love life along the way.

      This one follows this usual plot structure but it seems to be a little more lazily-written than many of the other novels in the series. The Macho Man of the title is Randy Duggan and is clearly based on the American wrestler Macho Man Randy Savage. Maybe this was meant as some kind of homage to the wrestler but if that's the case it didn't quite work for me. Any readers who recognise the author's caricature of him will (like me) feel a little let down by this sloppy detail. It's as if Beaton couldn't be bothered to create a new persona for her obnoxious victim.

      As always with these stories the usual cast of local characters are just as important (if not moreso) than the twists and turns of the whodunit, and in this novel they are as quirky and appealing as ever. Macbeth's great lost love, Priscilla Halburton-Smythe, is distant yet appealing and finds herself once again with the wrong man. Hamish's superior officer is, as always, trying to find an excuse to get him suspended and this time he actually gets his wish when Macbeth is tricked into contesting a bare knuckle fight with the loathsome bully Duggan. And the Scottish highlands themselves are so well-described that they almost form a central character in the story. The certainly play their part in how their inhabitants act.

      So there is much to love in this book but there are also some plot holes and coincidences that many will have trouble swallowing. While I'd still probably recommend this as a good read I'd only suggest it for those already familiar with the series. If this were to be a reader's first Hamish Macbeth novel it might also very well be their last.

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