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  Bookends: Dan Davidson

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.

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