01 September 2011

Review: Death of a Nag by M. C. Beaton

I am a huge fan of Hamish Macbeth, the laid-back chief constable of the small Scottish town of Lochdubh. Death of a Nag is the eleventh in this fun, light series by M. C. Beaton. Although each mystery can be read on its own, one of the charms of the novels is getting to know the town and the characters and watching how things change over time.

Hamish is going through a bit of bad patch in his private life and decides to do something unprecedented: take a real holiday away from home. He finds the perfect inn the northern town of Skag--it's cheap, it has had a last-minute cancellation, and it allows dogs. Naturally, nothing is as the brochure claims, and Hamish is particularly discouraged by the nearly inedible food.

The other guests don't offer much solace, either. From the two young women who seem to have questionable reputations to the overbearing man who harps on his wife unrelentingly, Hamish isn't finding many friends in the ill-named Friendly House. When one of the guests is found murdered, Hamish finds himself on the receiving end of a police investigation. After the local bobbies discover he's a a policeman too, they put Hamish on the case.

The characters in Death of a Nag are particularly well developed, and it's a treat to see Hamish out of his familiar town and working with a different set of fellow coppers, including the still fairly green Maggie Donald. In his usual slow yet thorough manner, Hamish analyzes the suspects and teases out the important clues. He may be unambitious and may prefer fishing to doing police business, but don't let that fool you. He's smart and observant.

Death of a Nag seems to mark a transition in Hamish's life. By the end of the book, he has had to face up to some major changes, but he fortunately rediscovers how supportive the people of Lochdubh can be. I can't wait to get to book twelve to see what Hamish is up to next.

I listened to the unabridged audio edition (Recorded Books, 6 hr, 17 min) read by one of my all-time favorite narrators, Davina Porter. Her voice is always a pleasure to listen to, and she is particularly wonderful with Scottish accents.

There are currently twenty-seven Hamish Macbeth books with another one scheduled for February 2012. To learn more about M. C. Beaton (a pen name of Marion Chesney), visit her website.

Death of a Nag at Powell's
Death of a Nag at Book Depository
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Published by Constable & Robinson, 1995
ISBN-13: 9781845297329
Source: Bought (see review policy)
Rating: B+
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Louise 9/1/11, 7:40 AM  

I loved the Hamish MacBeth TV series, it was nice and gentle and had the cutest little dog. For some reason though I've never got round to reading any MC Beaton. I must change that....

caite 9/1/11, 8:23 AM  

it was a TV series too? I have to check that out..
It has been so long...and I mean years and years and years... since I read a book in this series. I really must catch up.

Jenn's Bookshelves 9/1/11, 9:13 AM  

I really need to get going with this series! So many people have recommended it to me. Not sure what I'm waiting for! :)

Zibilee 9/1/11, 9:20 AM  

I have heard of Hamish MacBeth and this series, but I haven't actually read any of the books myself. I think it sounds like an interesting series, and I would probably really enjoy Hamish. I know that 27 books is a commitment, but it might be something to think about in the future. If I only picked up this one, would it be in any way standalone?

Beth F 9/1/11, 9:23 AM  

@Zibilee: you could jump in anywhere -- the author tries to fill you in a bit on the background of the villagers and Hamish. It's been fun to watch the characters grow and change, though.

Nan 9/1/11, 11:57 AM  

I like this series, too. Not every book, but in general the man and the locale. The tv shows were weirder. There was a character that was sort of psychic if I remember right, and it gave the dramas an oddness that the books don't have. But I do love Robert Carlyle in the role, and always picture him when I read the books.

bermudaonion 9/1/11, 2:03 PM  

I read one Hamish Macbeth book and it was just okay. It sounds like I need to try another one.

Dorte H 9/1/11, 4:49 PM  

Twenty seven? Small wonder I feel a bit behind. And I don´t think I´ll try to read the whole series, but I really like relaxing with one of these once in a while.

I read another cosy today; Elizabeth Spann Craig´s brand-new Myrtle Clover mystery. Really fine and so funny I laughed out loud several times (happens very rarely for me).

Nise' 9/1/11, 8:24 PM  

My mom loves this series and has recommended it to me over and over. The magic words "read by Davina Porter" has me wanted to listen right away!!!

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks 9/1/11, 10:00 PM  

I'm not familiar with this series, but the combo of light story, engaging characters and "all-time favorite" narrator make it sound like perfect 'easy listening!'

Julie P. 9/1/11, 10:35 PM  

What a long-running series. I think I need to give one of these a try for mystery mondays!

JoAnn 9/1/11, 11:26 PM  

Considering how much I love Agatha Raisin, Hamish Macbeth should be a no-brainer...

Jenners 9/3/11, 7:33 PM  

The title worries me … what if this is what is written in my obituary? HAHA!

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