Written by MC Beaton — Having penned over 100 books in a career spanning more than 30 years, Scottish writer MC Beaton is probably best known for her Agatha Raisin and Hamish Macbeth novels. Her latest book, Death of a Kingfisher, takes us back to the fictional village of Lochdubh in the Highlands of Scotland for her 28th Hamish Macbeth mystery.
When a kingfisher decides to make its home in a local beauty spot, the canny local tourist board director comes up with a scheme to bring more money into the village of Braikie – busloads of tourists willing to part with their cash for a glimpse of the bird. However, when the feathery beast is found hanging from one of the trees in Buchan’s Wood with a noose around its neck, and a wooden bridge is vandalised, the villagers suspect that their run of good luck may be short-lived.
Village bobby Sgt Macbeth and his newly acquired, rather lazy side-kick Constable Dick Fraser, are called in to investigate. A visit to the neighbouring big house owned by the crotchety Mrs Colchester turns up nothing relevant but reveals a lot about the household. The old lady has pots of money and has been invaded by her two rather unpleasant grandchildren who are attempting to worm money out of their aged relative so they can stay at their exclusive school. You can’t help but feel sorry for poor Hamish who finds himself caught up in the cross-fire.
However, the situation takes an even nastier turn when Mrs Colchester is dispatched by means of a rocket-charged chair lift and a sawn off bannister rail. In the old lady’s will, Mary Leinster, the local tourism director who keeps giving Hamish the glad eye, is named as one of the main beneficiaries. With the vultures circling and baying for Mary’s blood, Hamish is left pondering who has the strongest motive for the killing, but all roads seem to lead back to Mary. With a rising body count and Inspector Blair on his case waiting for him to slip up, the pressure is on for Hamish to solve a case that’s proving to be his most challenging yet.
For anyone unfamiliar with the Hamish Macbeth series, there’s always a slight tongue in cheek side to these stories, and this mystery is no different. There’s talk of fairies, and pranks involving superglue and police hats. Constable Fraser proves that not only can he detect a crime from the comfort of a chair in the garden, but he’s also a bit of a whizz on TV game shows. So it’s a highly entertaining read that will raise the odd smile. Fans of MC Beaton will not be disappointed by her latest offering and it may even earn a few new ones. It’s on sale from 15 March but watch the hefty Kindle price of nearly £10. You might want to wait until the papebrack arrives and the Kindle price drops.
CFL Rating: 4 Stars