Death of a Maid
A Hamish Macbeth Mystery by M. C. Beaton
Review: Hamish Macbeth stumbles upon the body of a local house cleaner in Death of a Maid, an amusing entry in this long-running series by M. C. Beaton.
There's much to be said for a typical English, or in this case Scottish, village mystery. They're comfortable, rather predictable, and if done well, are quite enjoyable. Here, Constable Macbeth of the Scottish Highlands village of Lochdubh investigates the murder of Mrs. Gillespie, a maid whose reputation for gossip far exceeds that of her cleaning abilities. Since most everyone is hiding a secret of some sort, the number of suspects is just about equal to the population of the village.
Macbeth quickly confirms this fact soon after he begins interviewing Mrs. Gillespie's clients. When he meets the dead woman's daughter, he asks, "Do you know of anyone who would wish your mother harm?" Her matter-of-fact reply, "Just about everyone." There's something refreshing in the simplicity of the story and how Macbeth goes about the business of eliminating suspects and building a case against the killer.
Where the story goes astray is in a secondary plot involving attempts on Macbeth's life. No doubt intended by Beaton to be a red herring of sorts to the main plot, it never rings true. Worse, after capturing the culprit who killed Mrs. Gillespie and presumably bringing about an end to the mystery of the Death of a Maid, the book goes on for another 50 or so pages to wrap up the subplot. The author redeems herself, however, in the epilogue with a clever resolution to an unsolved aspect of the case.
Acknowledgment: Hachette Book Group provided a copy of Death of a Maid for this review.
Review Copyright © 2007 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Love, Lies and Liquor
Minotaur Books (Hardcover), September 2006
ISBN-13: 9780312349103; ISBN-10: 0312349106
Death of a Witch
Grand Central (Hardcover), February 2009
ISBN-13: 9780446196130; ISBN-10: 0446196134
Location(s) referenced in Death of a Maid: Scotland
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Death of a Maid by M. C. Beaton — A Hamish Macbeth Mystery
Publisher: Mysterious Press
Publication Date: February 2007
List Price: $23.99