31 December 2009

Review: Death of a Charming Man by M. C. Beaton

Death of a Charming Man is the 10th mystery in M. C. Beaton's Hamish Macbeth series. This review contains very minor spoilers for the series and no spoilers for the book.

Hamish Macbeth, easygoing police sergeant from Lochdubh in northern Scotland, is content with his life. He spends his days fishing and gossiping with neighbors; flirting with his unofficial fiance, Priscilla Halburton-Smythe; and handling the occasional crime.

As much as Hamish is in love with Priscilla, she is also the source of his biggest problems: She is determined to modernize his house and help him get promoted, neither of which interests him. Hamish is looking for excuses to avoid Priscilla's improvement projects, so when he hears that a British incomer has moved to the neighboring town of Drim, he decides to check things out.

To the middle-aged women of Drim, the arrival of the handsome Peter Hynd is just the spark they needed to join exercise classes, dye their hair, and buy new clothes. Never mind that they are married and no amount of hair dye is going to return them to their 20s. Best friends begin to compete for Peter's attention and marriages are hanging on by a thread.

Hamish's doubts about Peter are strengthened when the newcomer is seen having dinner with Priscilla. But when the charming man is reported missing just after a Drim woman is found dead on the beach, Hamish begins to investigate Peter in earnest.

M. C. Beaton is a master at the cozy mystery. Even in the 10th novel, we are still interested in the life and crimes of the northern Highlands. As always, the townsfolk and Hamish's seemingly lazy personality are at the core of the book. The mystery was well constructed and not easy to figure out, but it's the people who keep me coming back to Lochdubh.

I highly recommend this series to cozy mystery lovers, people who like to read about Scotland, and those who like books about small towns and unique characters.

I listened to the audio production read by the wonderful Davina Porter. If you are an audio fan, you won't be disappointed listening to Porter's lovely Scottish accent and expressive narration.

Published by Grand Central Publishing, 1995
ISBN-13: 9780446403382
Challenges: 100+
Source: Borrowed (see review policy)
YTD: 100
Rating: B+


Unknown 12/31/09, 8:22 AM  

I listened to only one of the books in the series, Death of a Dreamer, but I completely agree with you on both counts: M.C. Beaton is really good at writing cozy mysteries and it was a pleasure to listen to Davina Porter on audio. I will definitely be coming back for more.

Happy New Year!

Julie P. 12/31/09, 9:35 AM  

I am having a very hard time focusing on reading the past few weeks. Maybe a cozy is just what i need.

Amy 12/31/09, 9:40 AM  

Sounds like a good series and I love reading about Scotland. Thanks!

Stacy 12/31/09, 12:25 PM  

I wasn't going to read Hamish until I finished Agatha but reading all your posts on this series, I will defnitely have to try it in 2010.

Margot 12/31/09, 12:52 PM  

I love cozy mysteries and I need to find the first one and get started on it. It sounds like audio is the best way to go.

Bernadette 12/31/09, 6:41 PM  

Thanks for the audio book recommendation Beth. I didn't think much of the TV series which I assume was based on these books but books are normally much better than their adaptations so I'm going to add the first one to my audible library and see what I think.

bermudaonion 12/31/09, 7:05 PM  

This sounds so good! I was chuckling when you said the women signed up for exercise class and started dying their hair!

Tina 12/31/09, 8:34 PM  

I love this series, and agree with you about Davina Porter's reading. I can always listen to a Hamish Macbeth story when I need a pick-me-up and finish it feeling like I've just shared a cup of tea with an old friend. Thanks for the lovely affirmation of a wonderful cozy series.

Tiina 1/1/10, 4:51 AM  

I've seen some parts of the TV series based on these books, but have not read any of them. I have to keep this series in mind.

Happy New Year!


Susan 1/1/10, 10:17 AM  

Hi Beth! I hope your New Year is off to a great start. If it's not, this might help - you just won the book of your choice from Amazon. Congratulations! Shoot me an email - blogginboutbooksATgmailDOTCOM and we can talk details!


caite 1/1/10, 4:57 PM  

I have read a couple in this series, although not this one I think. They are very nice books and yes, the setting in Scotland adds a lot for me.

Lisa 1/2/10, 12:36 AM  

I have got to get back to these books. I've got a bit of a crush on Hamish and the residents of Lochdubh!

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