'Death of a Liar' (A Hamish Macbeth Mystery)
By: M.C. Beaton
(Hardback / Grand Central Publishing / 272 Pages / $25.00)
Description: Sergeant Hamish Macbeth is alarmed to receive a report from a woman in the small village of Cronish in the Scottish Highlands. She has been brutally attacked and the criminal is on the loose. But upon further investigation, Hamish discovers that she was lying about the crime. So when the same woman calls him back about an intruder, he simply marvels at her compulsion to lie. This time, though, she is telling the truth. Her body is found in her home and Hamish must sort through all of her lies to solve the crime.
Verdict: In truth, you would think that what I have just written as the description above would have given the whole game away, now wouldn't you? But, if you know your friendly, local policeman Hamish Macbeth mysteries, well, you will also know that the description is far from revealing of anything, in truth.
'Death of a Liar' (A Hamish Macbeth Mystery) is a truly delightful read, a book that you simply cannot put down at any cost. Short(ish) chapters, nothing too expansive with regard the writing, the descriptions, the scene setting, etc. are all just perfectly created. The book simply colors in the black and white sketch of the initial murder from the off and allows your mind to keep coloring, keeping creating the landscape as you progress deeper.
Now, for those not in the Hamish Macbeth know, Police Sergeant Macbeth lives in Lockdubh, a small town on the northern Scottish coast. Living with him at the police station are his blue-eyed dog Lugs and large wild cat Sonsie, and his policeman helper, Dick Fraser. A man who has a rich instinct for winning quiz show prizes galore, we soon discover his want for pastures new; as it comes into play sooner rather than later.
Although Hamish solves all of the murders on his rather large patch of rural Scotland, he tries to avoid promotion because it would mean having to leave the lazy lifestyle that he loves in Lockdubh. Hamish would like to get married, and he feels that having Dick in the police station is somehow responsible for keeping away any available women. That and the fact that his immediate superior, Blair is totally against him and backstabbing him on an hourly basis. His two former fiancees, Priscilla and Elspeth, manage to remain in his life though and yet, one or the other always seems to become very helpful in a case.
And so, in 'Death of a Liar,' Hamish and Dick quickly discover that the body of a woman known throughout the neighboring town as a pathological liar has herself now been found dead in her garden. Things spiral from one presumption to another, especially when some strange tenants come to stay at a large house that doesn't seem to fit / suit them at all. Add to that the appearance of some French characters, a small tattooed man, a rogue Church leader, a weird religious cult, and a fabulous baker named Anka and, well, you've got the ingredients for one incredible thirteenth Hamish Macbeth mystery!
Personally, I loved the way M.C. Beaton does the slow reveal of the new characters, whilst at the same time allowing the older ones to still show us new edges to their game. The only ongoing, yet still going-nowhere-fast saga that weighed things down for me was Dick Fraser and his seemingly speedy desire to leave the police force, move in with Anka, and get up early to bake buns every morning thereafter! Especially when a) she was always to be a person of interest in the ongoing case and b) he had only known her for a few weeks! Oh, and the way that Macbeth constantly tried to undermine his always-was-stout, and now baker ex-police pal by going over to their small bakery and always asking Anka on a date with him, and him alone, got a little "icky" very quickly.
Regardless, 'Death of a Liar' (A Hamish Macbeth Mystery) is another incredible book in an incredible series ... and so please, please go out and buy this book TODAY!
Reviewed by: Russell A. Trunk
Grand Central Publishing Website