Death of a Kingfisher – M.C. Beaton

May 17, 2017

M.C. Beaton continues her proliferate mystery writing career with Death of a Kingfisher, published by Grand Central Publishing, copyright 2012.


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In this continuation of the Hamish Macbeth Mystery series the people of northern Scotland are looking for ways to supplement their incomes through the tourism trade.  The folks in the village of Braikie have little to attract anyone to their quiet northern area except the lovely forests of Buchan’s Wood.  During this time of economic recession the people of Braikie as well as nearby Lochdubh were becoming more inventive in their ways to attract more attention to their location on the coast of the North Atlantic.


Constable Dick Fraser who is about to retire lives with Police Investigator Hamish Macbeth.  The arrangement irritates Hamish but he has to appreciate that the man does take care of his dog and his wild cat as well as serve as an eternal source of the local gossip which to a police investigator can be a grand way of picking up clues and other valuable information.  It is through Constable Dick that Hamish finds out about Buchan’s Wood.  The woods had been bequeathed to the village by a Mr. Colchester, a well to do land owner.  Mary Leinster, the local tourism director, who Hamish is immediately attracted to, had cleverly renamed the woods “The Fairy Glen”.  Mary had transformed these woods into one of Scotland’s most attended attractions on the entire northern coast.  New brochures had come out upon Mary’s request and everyone was very anxious to see if there was an improvement in the attendance at the Fairy Glen.  These brochures featured an impressive photograph of a local wildlife resident, the well known kingfisher bird which had been inhabiting the Glen for many years.

When Mary calls Hamish and says there has been a murder on the Glen the news has a major effect on him, so he drives straight out with Dick to find that the murder was that of a kingfisher that had been hung by the neck in the garden of the late estate owner’s wife who was given the rights to live out her life on the estate.  Mrs. Colchester is not known for her hospitality and her two children have their eyes on what Mr. Colchester had collected over the years.  His collection consists of millions of dollars worth of rare and valuable gold, silver, and precious stones with histories dating back hundreds of years.  So Hamish and Dick arrive at Mrs. Colchester’s and they are told by her that Mary has what is referred to as the second sight and she had used it to protect a child from drowning in the pond near where the kingfisher was murdered.  Colchester had met with Mary who had convinced her that endorsing the park would be in her best interests.

Mrs. Colchester’s two children, Charles and Olivia, are obviously waiting for their mother to die so that they may inherit the fortune their father had carefully collected over the years.  Soon the woman is murdered in a most bizarre and inventive way, and Hamish’s superiors are pushing him to find the villain very quickly so they can show the local press that they are a reliable police force with justice and protection always on the agenda.

M.C. Beaton shows an incredible ability to bring the Scottish dialect and some Gaelic interpretations to the page.  She invokes humor, police procedure, and some sexy moments into her writing.  And I can tell she loves cats and dogs and shows that you should never underestimate a lazy person.  A lot of Scottish sayings and references make this one of the novels I could read a third time!  Funny and intriguing.

Literally, Paul.

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