M.C. Beaton presents to us the Checkmate Singles Club at the start of this enjoyable continuance of the Hamish Macbeth series of novels in Death of a Glutton, published by St. Martin’s Press, copyright 1993.
Many personalities have applied for a holiday excursion to Lochdubh in Scotland’s northern shores. Maria Worth has started this dating service with the financial assistance of her longtime friend Peta Gove. Because of her family monies Peta has substantial funds to back Maria in this venture but it comes with a price. Peta is looking for a man, a man who can tolerate her habit of almost constantly stuffing herself with food. When Peta goes to dinners she not only finishes her own plateful but asks people if she can finish theirs as well. To call her a glutton would almost be a kindness. The woman can and will eat every morsel of food that she can lay her hands on and then complain there wasn’t more. Her table manners are rather grotesque and she has the habit of showing up at the carefully thought out and well arranged singles meetings that Maria has designed.
The dating service seems to be doing well but Peta’s constant lip-smacking presence offends and repulses everyone to the point where Maria takes the clients to separate restaurants. The casual talk in these different venues turns to how most of them wish she were dead. They all seem to agree that to give her something poisonous would be the most appropriate way to do away with this perfect example of an overeating, fat woman.
Maria Worth organizes a grand affair at the Tommel Castle Hotel for the clients of the Checkmate Dating Service, but does not tell Peta about it. Numerous locals, reputed to be of good standing and very wealthy, are promised to attend. In some way Peta finds out about the extravagant event, bursts in and proceeds to eat all of what she can get her hands on. It was a disaster for Maria and her guests.
Hamish Macbeth loves his quiet village of Lochdubh, to say the least. His sweetheart Priscilla happens to be good friends with Maria and tells him about the troubles she has been having with Peta flirting with the men in her groups as well as eating everything in sight. It comes as no surprise to him that one day in the local pub he overhears a plot with the cook there to feed the woman a three day old dead wildcat. What is more surprising is when Peta actually does turn up dead, but not from a cat.
Given her many inventive ways to murder people M.C. Beaton is a woman I can safely say is one of the most creative I have read.
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