Reviewed by Doris
The twists and turns of Hamish Macbeth’s love life are almost as interesting as the twists and turns of his brain as he solves crimes. M. C. Beaton’s Highlander police sergeant is always struggling with either the overabundance or the total lack of love in his live. Death of a Kingfisher opens with the line, “It is a well-known fact that just when a man reaches his early thirties and thinks he is past love, that is when love turns the corner and knocks the feet from under him.” This time the winsome and luscious Mary Lerinster has Hamish in a dither as he tries to solve several murders and decide if Mary is part of the mayhem or just the gorgeous innocent she seems.
The Faerie Glen is a beautiful section of land left to the town of Braikie. Inside its boundaries are breathtaking views, peaceful meadows and-- some believe-- the magic of the faeries. Mary has been hired by the town council to turn the glen into a tourist attraction to bring money and jobs to poor Braikie. With Mary’s beauty and marketing flare the Faerie Glen is a great success. Playing upon the highlanders’ superstitious beliefs and being willing to use her beauty to manipulate susceptible men, Mary has convinced people she has “second sight” and the blessings of the faeries. Tourist buses filled with people pour into the glen to catch a glimpse of magic. But, someone is not pleased with the successes of the Faerie Glen and havoc descends. Hamish enters the fray to solve the murder of a kingfisher. Along the way more murders will occur and Hamish will find himself trying to stay in the mix to solve the crimes while trying to sort out how he feels about Mary.
The latest outing of Hamish Macbeth—Death of a Kingfisher-- by M. C. Beaton is a good, easy read. As always Hamish is in a pickle over women and trying to solve crimes while avoiding too much scrutiny from Inspector Blair. He is also very worried that his outpost in Lochdubh will be closed as many of the northern outposts are being shut down. Enter into his world a gorgeous woman to whom he is instantly drawn, a wealthy widow who has an acid tongue and strange superstitions, and two children who will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. Think The Bad Seed times two and you will have Olivia and John! As the plots all merge into the finale and Hamish’s saving the day, Death of Kingfisher delivers a surprise or two for both Hamish and the readers.
I have always enjoyed Beaton’s Hamish Macbeth series and this one is one of the faster, better paced reads. I also like the blending of Hamish’s new constable Dick Fraser into the scene. Hamish and Dick make a good combination of investigative styles, and Dick brings more than a little humor and aggravation into Hamish’s life. Beaton’s descriptions of life and the people of the Highlands is such a strong part of the series and lend credibility to the stories. I hope Beaton will continue the exploits of Hamish for many books to come.