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==Synopsis of the book:==
Constable Hamish Macbeth has decided it is time for a holiday as life in the Highland of Scotland is not enjoyable at the moment. He has recently slit up with his girlfriend Priscilla Halburton-Smythe and all the locals seem to blame him and sympathise with her. He is sick of being the subject of local gossip and as he is owed several weeks holiday, he decides he must now take it. As he does not have a lot of money he finds a cheap Bed and Breakfast in a coastal village of Skag in Scotland. He hopes this break will re-charge his batteries and make him feel better about his home, Lochdubh.
However he soon discovers the atmosphere at this Bed and Breakfast to be unfriendly and unhappy. As there is a very annoying nag staying there, a man called Bob Harris who moans about everything and everyone, much to the other guests and his wife disgust. However Hamish quickly finds he shares not only a dislike of this man with the other residents but also I dislike to the very poor food at their accommodation. As a result Hamish becomes the leader of this group who are unaware he is a Policeman as they search out both food and entertainment away from it. However no-one expects the nag to die but no-one will shed any tears for his passing.
==My thought on this novel:==
I found this a good and enjoyable piece of crime fiction. In the last few months I have read several in this series and while they may not be the most complex or earth shattering thrillers ever, there is a simple logic and they are always well thought out and interesting stories. Added to this they are not particularly long stories so they can be read within a few days. This one for example took me only a few days and it was a very easy story to pick up and enjoy.
The Hamish Macbeth stories are written by M.C.Beaton. There are currently 28 in this series with this book being only the second one written back in 1987. This series of stories have also been transferred to television. Added to this this author has also produced another successful series of crime thrillers in the Agatha Raisin stories and there are 23 in this series. In my opinion her stories are similar in style to Ann Granger books and they are good thrillers but they do not tax the reader too much, maybe an ideal light read for a holiday.
Having read and enjoyed several books in both the Hamish Macbeth and Agatha Raisin series I was keenly looking round the second hand bookshop for another that I had not read, when I came across this one. And it took my totally by surprise as I expected the nag to be a women because all the nags I have ever heard called that have been female. So it was a nice change that this one was a male, as thinking about it a nag is a nag regardless of sex. So my decision to buy had pretty much bee made as soon as I saw this one.
I liked the title as I say so I flipped the book over to see what it was all about in its summary. This was a little on the short side but at least set the scene well. With Hamish's failed love affair with Priscilla and they need for him to get away it sounded quite interesting. Below the summary where two compliments for the authors work, however it was not obvious if they were for her work in general or specifically for this story.
I found the story very easy to get into and I like the writing style which was clear and precise, without being basic. What appealed to me was the mystery started soon into the story with Hamish going away on holiday almost as soon as the book began. This is something I have criticised this author in the past for but on this occasion I cannot. As a result the story had a real purpose about it and it flowed far better and seemed to a quicker pace throughout and I enjoyed it more.
The story was good and I found I really enjoyed the way it developed and Hamish's experience in the Bed and Breakfast in Skag. The other residents were well described and seemed an interesting bunch of people all with very different personalities so you could not get them confused and remember what they were all like. This added to the mystery and the suspense as later on in the story they were all to have reasons for murder and skeletons in their cupboards.
One of the real bonuses in this series in addition to a well thought out stories is the humour within them. This story was no exception and because the wit was often cleverly written it was easy to picture the scene and enjoy it. I often found myself chuckling away at what was happening to the books main character. As in this story the most unlikely characters seem to fall in love with him and he needs to deal with this and carefully as he can as he does not feel attracted to them.
In addition to this and a feature of good crime mysteries is the element of surprise and clever twists within the story, this book had both and as a result added to the humour it was a very enjoyable story. I found the pace was good and I liked the direction it took. It was the type of mystery were anyone seemingly could have committed the crime and even Hamish was a suspect in the story until he got a very unexpected alibi.
The concluding chapters were well paced by lacked too much excitement. I would have enjoyed a little more action but I suppose you cannot always have a action packed ending in a mystery. But on the positive side right at the end there was one last unexpected twist in the tale of the story that left me impressed and surprised. In the conclusion of the story all the loose ends in the story were resolved and all my questions were answered so I was left with a satisfied feeling as I completed it. Yes it's true to say this was not the most detailed or complex story, but it was well described throughout and while I guessed the guilty party a long way before it was resolved I did not know why until that was explained at the end.
Hamish Macbeth is the main character in this series. He is an intelligent young man who uses his brain to solve mysteries. However all those around him think he is lazy for some reason. I like the way he goes about solving crimes. Although I do think good fortune and luck seems to play a key role for him. And while he is a good rounded character I am always surprised at how many single women seem attracted to him and that fact he never seems interested in them. And because I have seen a few of the television programs I can easily picture him and descriptions about him and his character are not necessary.
For me the length of the story was about right to tell a well thought out and interesting mystery. It was rich in mystery and suspense throughout and I enjoyed it from the first page to the last. Maybe not a page turner but it was well written and a pleasure to read anyway. I found the sometimes outrageous humour excellent the whole way through.
This is a murder mystery I would recommend to anyone who enjoys a thriller with a twist. The humour within the story was excellent and I liked the way the story developed. For me this was a light read and I found I did not have to concentrate to much to know exactly what was happening throughout. The book is available in Hardback, Paperback and Kindle formats.
Year first published: 1987
Thanks for reading my review.
This review is published on both Ciao and Dooyoo under my user name.
© CPTDANIELS July 2013