Reviews by L. J. Roberts

M. C. BEATON – Death of a Witch. Reprint paperback: Grand Central Publishing, January 2010. Hardcover edition: February 2009.

M C. BEATON Death of a Witch

Genre: Police procedural/cozy. Series character: Hamish Macbeth, 25th in series. Setting: Scotland.

First Sentence: Police Constable Hamish Macbeth, heading home to his police station in the village of Lochdubh n Sutherland, heaved a sigh of relief.

   Constable Hamish Macbeth is back in the Scottish village of Lochdubh after his less-than-restful vacation to Spain. He is greeted with the news that a witch has moved into town. But she’s not there long and she is murdered shortly after Hamish’s return. As Hamish’s investigation proceeds more die.

   The Hamish books lie somewhere between traditional mysteries and cozies. On the traditional side, by the end of the book there are a lot of bodies and the protagonist is a policeman. However, rather than there being a detailed investigation, it’s almost as if, when Hamish appears, people confess and everything falls into place.

   On the cozy side, there is an awful lot of time spent dealing with his relationships with women. He has better relationships with his pets. As for characters, Hamish is a little too good to be true. He’s tall, red-haired, good looking to the point where every woman but the one he wants throws themselves at him, and can run like the wind.

   I was a bit annoyed that Hamish’s superior, CI Blair, is portrayed as so incompetent but at least it’s balanced by Hamish’s friend, DS Jimmy Anderson, and Blair’s boss, CS Davoit

   The style is a bit simple for my taste, almost as if written for young adults. I do like that the dialogue is written with an indication of people’s accents without it becoming laborious.

   The element I most enjoyed was the sense of place. Beaton’s descriptions of the highlands and the weather, which can be a critical element in living in, and navigating around, the highlands, is well done. This was a light, enjoyable read but it’s a series I’ve put behind me.

Rating: Good.

Editorial Comment: Say welcome to LJ Roberts and her first review for the Mystery*File blog. Her reviews previously graced the pages of both the printed version and the M*F website, but in the space of time between the latter and the blog, she moved them elsewhere, but only temporarily, I’m pleased to say. Here she is again.