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From Barnes & NobleIn the 23rd installment of M. C. Beaton's popular mystery saga featuring Scottish police constable Hamish Macbeth, the laid-back lawman is tasked with solving a perplexing murder where every single person who knew the victim (essentially the entire adult population of Lochdubh, a small coastal village in the Scottish Highlands) could be the killer!
Mavis Gillespie is a crotchety maid with a penchant for black-hearted gossip, known to look through her clients' personal belongings when she's cleaning their houses -- so it's no surprise to anyone when she is found brutally murdered, bludgeoned to death with her own cleaning pail. Macbeth investigates, only to find that the "round little woman in her fifties with rigidly permed grey hair, ruddy cheeks, and a long mean mouth" was almost universally hated by everyone -- even her own family. Further digging reveals unsettling information: Gillespie was blackmailing numerous clients. But as Macbeth gets closer to uncovering the identity of the killer, he's faced with a myriad of just-as-dangerous personal issues, including the reappearance of a not-so-old love interest…
There are several obvious reasons why Beaton's Hamish Macbeth mysteries (Death of a Dreamer, Death of a Bore, et al.) are still going strong after more than two decades. Masterful characterization, intricate and entertaining plotlines, and lovingly meticulous detail concerning the breathtaking backdrop and rugged culture of the Scottish Highlands make this series a must-read for cozy mystery fans who enjoy authors like Lilian Jackson Braun, Anne Perry, and Martha Grimes. Mutton pie and chips not included. Paul Goat Allen