Monday, October 3, 2016

Review of "Death of a Policeman" by M.C. Beaton




Detective Chief Inspector Blair is jealous of the success of Sergeant Hamish Macbeth of Scotland's Lochdubh police and is constantly trying to get the Lochdubh police station closed. Thus Blair dispatches handsome Officer Cyril Sessions to 'go undercover' and get evidence that Hamish and his partner Dick Fraser lollygag around and waste time. Cyril gets photos of Dick sleeping on duty and romances librarian Hetty Dunstable - who's happy to badmouth Hamish because he rebuffed her advances. Hamish soon catches on to Cyril's game and decides to play cat and mouse with the the officer. Soon afterwards Cyril is killed and Hamish becomes a suspect. 

As Hamish searches for the real killer he uncovers other local crimes, and these investigations constitute the mystery part of the book. As always with this series though, much of the story concerns the entertaining personal lives of the folks in the Scottish Highlands, many of them recurring characters. 

Dick Fraser crushes on a pretty assistant librarian much younger than himself. Angela Brodie (the doctor's wife) writes a mystery book and - to the chagrin of her husband - buys a 2,000 pound dress for (what turns out to be) a disappointing awards ceremony. Hamish hobnobs with his ex-fiances and his pets - wild cat Sonsie and dog Lugs; in an amusing scene scientists want to study the rare wild cat and Hamish decides to dye her black to disguise her identity. Superintendent Daviot has a secret that hampers Hamish's investigations, and so on. My favorite 'comic' parts were recurring scenes of tipsy librarian Hetty Dunstable trying to seduce one man after another - mistakenly deciding each one has a passion for her. 

I enjoyed the book and recommend it to fans of cozy mysteries, especially those familiar with the series and the characters.

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