Death of an Addict
Reviewed: April 15, 2006
By: M.C. Beaton
Publisher: Warner Books
214 pages, $9.99
Hamish Macbeth is nothing at all like his
namesake, whose downfall was his ambition. In truth, Hamish doesn’t seem to
have much of that quality. Content to be the constable of Lochdubh (that’s
Loch doo), raise a few animals and a small garden in the lot behind the station.
The only ambition he has is to be married
and have children, and he doesn’t seem to be having a lot of luck with that
one, but he does keep trying.
As a local bobbie, Hamish is more likely
to resort to humour and a gentle warning than enforcement through the stern
letter of the law. He’s a bit unconventional, but well liked by the people
of his district, which includes a couple of villages and lots of open country.
Still, as the “death of a ...” pattern of
the more than a dozen mysteries in the series would indicate, murder finds
its way into his pastoral life with a fair degree of frequency. Young Tommy
Jarret was a recovering addict who had retreated to a cottage in the country
to sort himself out and write a memoir of his experiences. He seemed harmless
enough, but when he turned up dead of what seemed to be an accidental overdose,
Hamish scents that something is amiss, but has a lot of trouble convincing
any of his superiors to listen.
It seems to be his way to press on, regardless.
By this means he gets himself involved in exposing an extortion racket, and
worms his way deeper into the drug trade than one would think he would have
been able to go. When his superiors get wind of it all, they take over the
operation and place Hamish under the watchful eye of an ambitious Detective
Inspector named Olivia Chater. Together, they impersonate a drug lord and
his moll, and manage, after some comic misadventures, to wrap up the larger
case and solve the smaller murder that led to it.
I felt like I was reading a romance with
a bit of a mystery tied in, and was therefore not surprised to find that Beaton
writes Regency Romances under another name, Marion Chesney (the M.C., one
assumes) and several other names, including Sarah Chester, Helen Crampton,
Ann Fairfax, Marion Gibbons, Jennie Tremaine, and Charlotte Ward.
She has also created the Agatha Raisin mysteries.
I haven’t seen these, but the first name of her sleuth suggests the format.