Hamish Macbeth

Pleasant confinement reading: the excellent Hamish Macbeth series, by M. C. Beaton. I have chosen to illustrate here the second volume, Death of a cad, but the whole series is excellent. These are wodunit, Agatha Christie style crime novels. A murder, suspects in a closed environment, the investigation and the deductions of an unlikely detective.

In this series, the action takes place in the depths of Scotland. The landscapes, the climate, the atmosphere, the gastronomy (if one dares to call it that), everything immerses us in the peat, the clouds, the freezing sea, the merciless wind, the black lochs. The detective, Hamish, is the young constable of a village on the moor and the lochs. Tall, goofy, badly dressed, clumsy, but intelligent and philosophical. With a flock of cousins all over Scotland and England, he finds himself very well alone with his dog in the peaceful life of his village. Well, alone… There is indeed the daughter of the local lord who is not indifferent to him. But it goes without saying that her father looks down on this character of such low status.

A few poachers who are not too bad, one or two tourists who have strayed here and there, are the usual features of Hamish’s mission. Until, fatally, a murder comes to shake up the life of the village. From episode to episode, through his observation skills, his finesse, his knowledge of the country, his network of cousins who also bring him a lot of information, Hamish ends up discovering the murderer. To the great displeasure of the Scotland Yard inspectors from the town, who find it very hard to bear that the insignificant young man sees and understands what they have neither seen nor understood.

The author is Marion Cheney. She is Scottish, from Glasgow, and has written many novels under different pseudonyms. Under that of M. C. Beaton, she gave us the famous Agatha Raisin series, and thus the remarkable Hamish Macbeth series. Born in 1936, she passed away in 2019.

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