It was so bittersweet to read this book knowing that M.C. Beaton had passed away and that she’d had assistance with writing this book before her death. IF this had been my first read in the Hamish Macbeth series, I’d probably have rated the book a solid 4 or 4.5 stars. However, it was NOT my first book in the series – I’ve read them all. It was a good mystery and it was well written – it was just a little ‘off’ somehow. Hamish just wasn’t quite Hamish – I still loved him, but he wasn’t exactly the character I’ve come to know and love. I also didn’t get the book I had so very much wanted. I have to wonder if this is really the last book of the series or not because nothing was really wrapped up in the book and lots of ‘hints’ were there for things to come. The book I WANTED would have had a happily settled Hamish in his sweet Scottish village – and DCI Blair having been dropped in the deep ocean somewhere. That is definitely NOT what I got. So now, do I go on picturing our sweet, lovable Hamish spending a long, lonely life in Lochdubh – OR – will there be another book and another? If there are more, will they satisfy my Lochdubh hunger and my desire to see Hamish happily settled and living a life that isn’t lonely?
Hamish Macbeth is very, very happy being the police Sergeant in remote, breathtakingly beautiful Lochdubh, Scotland. He’s been engaged twice and both times he’s broken those engagements because he realized those ladies just weren’t the right match – neither of them wanted to stay in Lochdubh. They wanted a big city life – and he definitely did not. So, imagine his delight when his new constable, Dorothy McIver, is not only as beautiful as his beloved Highlands – she wants to live there – with him. They work together for several months and grow closer and closer until he finally asks her to marry him – and she says YES.
They work well together solving the few crimes that happen in ‘their patch’ as Hamish refers to it. Then, there is a murder, and ‘special’ investigators from Strathbane and even Glasgow descends on their peaceful little world. One of those investigators is DCI Blair who hates Hamish with a passion. Blair is the epitome of a dirty cop – Hamish knows it – Blair knows Hamish knows it. Hamish just can’t prove it – yet. Hamish and Dorothy conduct their own investigation since they’ve been told to stay out of the official one. It really gets personal for Hamish when Douglas (Dougie) Tennant is beaten and left to burn to death in his cottage near where the murder happened.
There are so many things that don’t make sense to Hamish. Is all of it related to gangs bleeding over from the big cities into the Highlands? Who is the blonde woman in the blue car? What does the soldier, Keith Bain, have to do with any of it? His alibi certainly doesn’t hold up. Then, there is the American, James Bland. Who is he really and why is he in Lochdubh? We all know DCI Blair is up to no good – but what is it he is actually up to?
To tell you this book broke my heart and left me terribly, terribly sad for Hamish would be putting it mildly – especially if there are no future books. I’m not sure if I’m glad I read it or not because, if it is the last book, my imagination was so very much better than where this went. That said, it was a good mystery and a good read even if it wasn’t the same as it would have been had M.C. Beaton written all of the words.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.