Written by M.C. Beaton

Review written by Carole Tyrell

Carole Tyrrell worked in the theatre for nearly 10 years and was always fascinating by the way death and the supernatural formed many of the greatest and most enduring works. She has read crime fiction for many years and enjoys the broad range of the genre.

RRP: £6.99
Released: 27th January 2011

This is the latest Hamish Macbeth murder mystery and my first encounter with him.  I've always associated him with Sunday night TV as a possible alternative to 'Heartbeat'.  They both inhabit their own little worlds and timewarp and have their own way of solving crime.

The book begins with Hamish at the alter about to finally get married.  Yes, someone's managed to do it at last. The lucky lady is Josie McSween, a police constable on secondment from Strathbane.  It's all she's ever wanted but he's praying to be rescued.....

Then the tale flashsback a year to when Josie arrives at Hamish's hometown of Lochdubh full of hopeful yearning for him. She is determined to get her man but nothing seems to work.  He sends her off round the local outlying villages to get her out of the way and her plans to lodge with him and make herself indispensable are dashed when she's forced to lodge with the formidable Mrs Wellington. He is much fonder of his pets; Lugs the dog and Sonsie, a wild cat. Josie is at her wits end when her widowed mother makes the fateful suggestion, 'maybe a nice juicy crime' might bring them together.  After that it doesn't take long for Hamish and Josie to be kneedeep in murders, vanishing diamond tiaras, failing wildlife parks and exploding Valentine's Day packages.

The lethal surprise causes the death of the local Lammas Queen, Annie Fleming, who was popularly regarded as 'a saint' but as Hamish and Josie's enquiries continue, and so does the body count, it becomes apparent that she wasn't.  In fact she had a darker attraction for the local men.  Meanwhile Josie's having a few more intense love affair with alcohol as she tries to make Hamish hers.

This isn't my kind of thriller.  It's too gentle despite Lochdubh's high murder rate. But it sounds an idyllic location not unlike the village of Midsomer.  Josie is so useless and irritating, always mooning round about Hamish, occasionally doing some useful police work and drinking a lot.   I  didn't enjoy her unpleasant plot to drag Hamish up the aisle and I was disturbed as to how easily she managed to obtain rohypnol from an evidence box.  All this for man who had a more meaningful  relationship with his pets than he was ever likely to with her.  But it is well written with a good pace and , if you are a fan of Hamish, you'll enjoy meeting some familiar characters and settings.

There are enough twists and turns and subplots to keep the pages turning and some good comic touches too. For example, a leather sofa that makes embarassing noises when Hamish attempts to sit on it and the Currie twins reminded me of the mysterious twins in 'Gormanghast.'

 If you're already a Hamish Macbeth fan you will love this.  But ifs you're looking for an entertaining and easy read, then you could find Death of a Valentine the ideal introduction to Hamish's world.     


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