Death of a Witch by M.C. Beaton

31 Jan
I did that thing again, where I come into a series half-way through and then feel slightly discombobulated while reading it because I don’t know all the back history. But, in my defense, there were only three of Beaton’s mysteries in my favorite bookstore, and Death of a Witch appealed to me most (I always like witchiness). Despite this foolish tendency of mine, I enjoyed Death of a Witch – I don’t know that I’ll be a die-hard fan, but I’d definitely like to check out more of this series and learn more about Constable Hamish MacBeth and his sleep Scottish village.

Hamish MacBeth is the local constable for the village of Lochdubh (how’s that for Scottish?), a small, quaint village in Scotland. When the mysterious Catriona Beldame moves to town and the men start making clandestine visits to her cottage, Hamish knows something is up. Catriona seems to be able to influence people, particularly when they’ve partaken of her tea, and the storm she stirs up in town puts Hamish on the attack. Then, when Catriona turns up dead, Hamish has to hunt down the killer of a woman he didn’t like while clearing his own name.

You know who Hamish reminded me of? Archie from the Archie comic books. I was obsessed with these comics as a kid – I think that they instilled in me my lifelong love of reading. Hamish, like Archie, is a redhead and he inexplicably attracts the ladies like flies to honey. I was constantly flabbergasted as a kid that Betty and Veronica, two beautiful and accomplished girls, would fight over silly ol’ Archie. He was such a…doofus. Hamish is much, much smarter than Archie (he solves crimes like nobody’s business) but in the relationship department, he’s kind of a dope. He strikes me as someone who’s very, very good at work but clueless about his personal life. In this novel, he’s got his on-and-off-again lady love Elspeth, Priscilla, the icy and beautiful hotel owner, and Lesley, the buxom forensic expert, all chasing after him. I kept wondering to myself why these beautiful and complex women were hung up on Hamish.

Another thing that stood out for me was how fast-paced the story was. Hamish is ALWAYS going somewhere – he’s driving to the police station, then to the town to a crime scene, then to the hotel to interview witnesses, then taking tea with a town member, then hiking up to various outposts to visit forestry workers…it’s exhausting. There’s literally no chance of being bored because something is always going on.

Perhaps my favorite element of Death of a Witch is how very Scottish it is. There’s lots of drams of whiskey, and beautiful lochs, and haggis and chips, and local dialect. One of my very favorite places to visit when reading is Scotland, and this book really satisfied that itch. The armchair traveler in me was very pleased.

2 Responses to “Death of a Witch by M.C. Beaton”

  1. n&dbookblog January 31, 2012 at 8:19 am #

    Haha! I love armchair traveling! This book is in a series then?

    • Amanda January 31, 2012 at 8:25 am #

      It is part of a series featuring Hamish MacBeth, but of course I didn’t do my research to find out which number it is. 🙂

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