Back again in Beaton’s twenty-fifth Police Sergeant Hamish Macbeth novel in Lochdubh in the Scottish highlands, murder and mayhem break out in a quiet village when a Valentine package blows a local beauty queen to bits. True to form, one murder begets a string of others as Hamish explores the recent activities of a young woman whose private life is the antithesis of her public one: “Love is blind, deaf and deadly.”
Every time Macbeth gets close to an answer and a likely suspect, another murder occurs - not to mention the hit man who is waiting to remove Hamish from the scene. This is a dogged policeman who gets results, sorting through random motives and a growing list of possibilities for the Valentine’s murder. Hamish’s only worry is that he receives too much attention for his work, preferring to remain in this usually quiet village with his two pets and a confusing love life that has so far kept his bachelor status intact.
The beauty and charm of Beaton’s little mysteries is Hamish Macbeth’s effect on the ladies. Unable to commit to a long-term relationship and just as happy to remain single, Hamish may be out of his depth this time with the arrival of a new constable, wee Josie McSween. A fresh face in an all-male department, Josie’s career options are limited: she has her heart set on a husband, the reluctant Hamish Macbeth.
Josie may be inept at police work and bored half to death by the assignments given to her by Macbeth, but she is sly and creative when it comes to getting her man. In spite of Hamish’s disinterest, Josie manages to convince herself that theirs will be a great love match. When circumstances conspire to prove otherwise, Josie just has a few sips of whiskey and all turns rosy again, her plans intact. In Beaton’s inimitable style, McSween’s machinations become more hilarious with each confrontation with her beloved, Hamish brought to heel and the wedding invitations in the mail.
Regardless of Josie’s wedding plans, Hamish’s task is not finished, the trail of the killer clear to the enterprising sergeant who has to take the law into his own hands this time to convince the authorities to issue a search warrant. Not to forget the fate of the hit man, whose reputation is at stake with every day his mission remains unaccomplished.
In a unique blend of humor and mayhem, Beaton writes another chapter in the life of the peripatetic bachelor, the Valentine’s murder a catalyst for more dead bodies and a clever killer trapped finally by his own hubris. Peopled with the eccentric villagers of Lochdubh, these small novels are jewels of highland humor and human failings, Hamish fighting crime and fighting off the ladies - although this time he may have met his match.