The peace of the small, beautiful Highland town of Lochdubh is shattered by a rash of poison-pen letters. Hamish Macbeth, the local constable, grows increasingly concerned as the vicious notes continue arriving unabated despite his inquiries. His worst fears come true when the local postmistress is found dead. Although it looks like a suicide, Hamish soon reveals it for the cleverly concealed murder it is in truth.
With the media now involved in the form of local reporter and reputed psychic Elspeth Grant, the case takes on a whole new meaning - especially as the body count continues to rise. Hamish struggles to put the scattered pieces together even as beautiful Londoner Jenny Ogilvie suddenly appears on the scene and throws herself at him at every opportunity. Juggling personal issues with work prejudices, Hamish finds himself in a race against time to solve the case before itís too late.
M.C.Beaton is without a doubt a master in the art of crafting a cozy mystery, as is apparent in the Hamish Macbeth series. This latest instalment is just one more jewel in an already top-heavy crown. As always, Beaton accurately captures the general ambience of a small Highland town Ė the over-zealous rumor mill wherein everybody knows everybody elseís business, the enviable closeness as well as the dark secrets.
Hamish Macbeth is not an ideal hero, what with his occasional maliciousness and temper, but he certainly is an interesting one full of personal complexties and detecting astuteness. Other interesting side characters and plot lines as well as a continuing plot line add to the general mayhem and add intrigue. Overall, this mystery story and indeed the entire series are quite enjoyable, and with their simple charm and quietly devious plots help spend time more agreeably.