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Thursday, February 11, 2010

review: Death of a Valentine by M.C. Beaton

I originally had picked this book to fit in with the reading challenge I was in.  I liked the idea of a Scottish village in the highlands as the setting.  It was not exactly what I had in mind, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Author: M.C. Beaton

Copyright: Jan 12, 2010 (Grand Central Publishing); 256 pgs.
Series: #25 in Hammish Macbeth Mysteries
Sensuality: Adult Situations and themes

Mystery sub-genre: British cozy/police procedural
Main Character: Six-foot-five-inch tall, flaming red haired Sergeant Hammish Macbeth
Setting: Lockdubh, small village in Scotland
Part of a Challenge: Fall/Winter Reading Challenge
Obtained book through: Purchased

The story starts with the total bachelor Hammish Macbeth getting a coworker at his small village, a female officer named Josie McSween. Josie specifically wanted the assignment so she could snag Hammish based on briefly seeing him prior. Josie is thinking of everything in her ability to make Hammish see what a catch she is, while Hammish wants her out of his hair and sends her on remote highland assignments. Josie spends most of her time dreaming about being married to Hammish. Before too long the murder takes place. The neighboring town’s beauty queen and darling receives a letter bomb along with some valentines in her mail. Hammish is attempting to investigate in the midst of police politics and Josie is proving she isn’t that interested in police work.
The sun shone down of the melting snow in the road in front of her. Mountains soared up to a newly washed blue sky. Perth, where Josie had been brought up, was just south of the highland line, and family visits had always been to the south – to Glasgow or Edinburgh. She found the whole idea of the Highlands romantic.

As her little Toyota cruised down into Lochdubh, she gave a gasp of delight. Whitewashed eighteenth-century cottages fronted the still waters of the sea loch. The pine forest on the other side of the loch was reflected in its waters. Melting snow sparkled in the sunlight.

The police station had an old-fashioned blue lamp hanging outside. Josie drew up and parked her car. She could already imagine herself cooking delicious meals for Hamish while he smiled at her fondly and said, “Whatever did I do without you?”
Josie’s fantasy of marrying Hammish has her scheming night and day. Her schemes go from humorous to ludicrous to sad and even risky. Hammish is oblivious to Josie and her plotting, viewing her as an annoyance. I have to ask why she ever chose police work as a career when all she wants is to get married? She makes no effort at investigating the murder of the local beauty. She never understands that her best chance with Hammish is to have the investigation in common.

The murdered town darling turns out to be a scandalous reprobate who used every male around to her advantage and threw them away when she was done. The suspects start piling up and Hamish runs into one dead end after another. Another murder occurs and Hammish is desperate to figure it all out. The mystery is part cozy for the small town with interesting villagers and part police procedural since you know as much as Hammish while he wades through the suspects and evidence. The tone of the book is a middle ground between cozy and police procedural as well. The mystery seems to take a backseat to Josie’s plotting. The killer is eventually figured out with no big twist or surprise. The bigger questions are whether Josie’s attempts to entrap Hammish will actually work, is Josie dangerous, and will Hammish figure out he has been scammed in time?

This was my first ever Hammish Macbeth mystery and I am interested in reading another without the Josie side story to see if Hammish is a character I can enjoy. In this book the main aspect that comes to the forefront is how he is single minded on his work, not particularly tender of other’s feelings and a total bachelor. But since a good chunk of the book is told from Josie’s viewpoint I feel I need another book in the series to get a good idea of how I like the basic premise of the series and if there is more mystery. If you have read installments from this series before this will probably be a good addition, but as a stand alone for someone new to the series it may not the best to start with.

For your convenience, you may purchase your copy here.

Until next Monday when we announce the winners of the book giveaway, I wish you many mysterious moments.
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Anonymous said...

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