I’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.