Book Review: Death of a Gentle Lady

Death of a Gentle LadyM.C. Beaton

I have just finished reading the latest book in the Hamish Macbeth series, written by M.C. Beaton. Having read the entire series, I was excited too see a new one out, and this one did not disappoint, in most regards. The book, as with all the others, is a captivating mystery and is set in the northernmost tip of Scotland.

Told from mostly Hamish's perspective, I once again fell in love with the village of Lochdubh, for its beauty and for its inhabitants. Hamish's description of the landscape always makes me want to visit the Highlands of Scotland and see the raw beauty that he is so in love with. And so adamently against leaving.

In the book, a gentlewoman, liked by everyone in the village besides Hamish, is found below the cliffs of her castle, murdered. The suspects include her family members, who were all gathered for a reunion, some visitors to Lochdubh staying at the local Tommel Castle Hotel, and even Hamish himself!! Detective Inspector Jimmy Anderson is in charge of the case, to Hamish's relief, and keeps Hamish well-informed of the goings-on. When the police arrest someone, Hamish is not satisfied and takes matters into his own hands, which lands him into even more trouble. Complicating matters is the Russian Inspector who seems to have a thing for Hamish, but also has a very tough side.

The usual brood of characters come into play in Death of a Gentle Lady, including the Curry sisters, the town's most prominent gossips; Angela Brodie, the doctor's wife and Hamish's pet-sitter; Willie, the obsessively clean restaurant owner; and Archie, a local fisherman who is condemned to his tight suits due to his wife's neurotic cleaning. In addition to the usual crew, there are some new characters to fit in with the current plot: the Russian Inspector, to whom Hamish referred to as looking like "Putin in drag", the family of the victim, and the villainous Detective Chief Inspector Blair, who, hating Hamish and his non-conforming ways, has a new plan for getting rid of him.

And as always, Hamish's love life comes into the story, and yet again, I was disappointed. He is propositioned several times, proposes once (and not to who you think!), and his two former lovers, Priscilla and Elspeth, both come home to Lochdubh for a visit. Will there ever be resolution here?

Overall, I enjoyed the book. It was good enough to make me want to keep picking it up to read, but not so suspenseful as it made me want to stay up through the night to finish (and I've had this experience many times in the past, and am never happy with myself the next day!). The book had a good plot, as usual, but that's not what keeps me coming back to Lochdubh. For me, it is all about the lovable and flawed characters, most importantly, Hamish himself.