Not Every Book’s a Winner

death-of-a-gossipI’ve read a lot of good books recently so I shouldn’t really be surprised to read one that’s not so good but I was a little disappointed with the last book I’ve read – Death of a Gossip by M C Beaton. I hadn’t read anything before by M C Beaton but I kept seeing her books on display at my local library. The New York Times Book Review quote  on the back cover made this book sound ok: “An enchanting series … M C Beaton has a foolproof plot for the village mystery”, so I thought I’d try it.

This is the first in her Hamish Macbeth Murder Mystery series and sadly it’s going to be the only one I’ll read. Despite the interesting quotes at the start of each chapter it’s a bit lightweight. The story is told mainly from one character’s perspective and that is the rather silly 19 year old secretary, Alice, who along with seven other people has enrolled in a fishing class at John and Heather Cartwright’s Lochdubh School of Casting: Salmon and Trout Fishing, staying at Lochdubh Hotel a remote village in the Scottish Highlands. The other “students” include a rich American couple, a “galloping major”, a twelve year old boy and a society widow, Lady Jane Winter. Hamish is the local bobby, apparently slow-witted and oafish, ambling aimlessly round the village.

Lady Jane is a most unpleasant woman who appears to know secrets that all the others would prefer to remain secret. So it is no surprise to find out that she is a gossip columnist and when, as the book title indicates, her strangled body is fished out of the river there is no shortage of suspects. Despite help from detectives from Strathbane CID it is Hamish who solves the case.

There was too much about the techniques of fishing for my my liking. I thought the characters were really just stereotypes, the descriptions of what everyone was wearing became quite tedious and the plot was rather simple. But it is a very quick read when you don’t want anything too challenging.

There is a quote on the inside of the front cover from Anne Robinson and I wondered if this  really was from the icy, sarcastic  presenter of the Weakest Link. It seemed too fulsome:

Sharp, witty, hugely intelligent, unfailingly entertaining, delightfully intolerant and oh so magnificantly non-pc.

Maybe the words “delightfully intolerant” and “magnificantly non-pc” are from the Anne Robinson who upset me by wanting to put the Welsh into Room 101! She’s not been my favourite ever since then, even though I used to like her Saturday morning radio show in the early 1990s.

7 thoughts on “Not Every Book’s a Winner

  1. Marg, I think these books are really meant to be light weight reads. Perhaps we are just not old enough! 🙂
    Try finding an audio Agatha Raisin with Penelope Keith reading it. Agatha will drive you nuts, but Penelope Keith is her usual wonderful self!
    Here is the latest one I read
    and here is one I listened to


  2. Too bad the book was disappointing. At least you had a string of really good books before it. Hopefully you will have a string of really good books after it!


  3. Margaret, I haven’t read any of the Hamish books. I have read a bunch of her Agatha Raisin books. Like those but can’t read them back to back. The first one is fun. I also like her Marion Chesney mysteries.


  4. Kerrie, thanks for the info on Agatha Raison. I do like Penelope Keith so I’ll look out for an audiobook.
    Martin, it seems by the number of books she’s written and the amount of copies in the library that other people enjoy her books. Maybe I’ll try an Agatha Raison book sometime.
    Stefanie, the string of good books is continuing – I’m reading Suite Francaise and have just started The Hidden.
    Kay, the Agatha Raison books are in the library, I’ll see if they have the first one.


  5. I couldn’t agree more. I read several of the books in this series last year trying very hard to like them but felt disappointed by the lack of depth. Fun but ultimately unsatisfying reads.


  6. They are light reads, and the series has its ups and downs, but it gets better on the whole as it goes on. I started in the middle and am now going back to the beginning. I just finished “Death of a Gossip” yesterday, and in it I thought Hamish Macbeth was portrayed as almost buffoonish. He comes across as more intelligent in the later books.

    I am a Georges Simenon / Maigret fan, and that is a totally different approach to mysteries/police procedurals. But I find that at this point in my life — unemployed and facing dismal job prospects, as are many folks — the Macbeth series is a lighter, brighter cup of tea.


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