M.C. Beaton's Hamish Macbeth doesn't fit everyone's idea of a cozy mystery hero. The police constable prefers his flock of Highland sheep and fine single-malt Scotch to cats and cups of tea, and the details of his success with women would bring a maidenly blush to Miss Marple's cheek. Yet his charm is definitely of the soft-boiled variety. Death of an Addict
, Beaton's 15th book in this series, begins with the apparent overdose death of Tommy Jarret, a recovering heroin addict who was writing an autobiography. Hamish, who oversees law and order in the village of Lochdubh, is instantly suspicious of the circumstances. Told to back off the case, he picks it up again on the sly when the dead man's parents ask him to find out what happened. Hamish's apparent lack of ambition masks a keen nose for illegal activity; even the dead ends of his investigation reveal a loan-sharking operation and a cache of hallucinogenic mushrooms.
Hamish's biggest fish is drug baron Jimmy White. To reel White in, Hamish poses as a drug supplier, with a beautiful, standoffish detective inspector from Glasgow playing the part of his wife. The pair go off on a whirlwind trip to Amsterdam to maintain their front, leading to a comic mishap and the beginnings of a romance--one that nearly comes to a very bad end when White is tipped off by Hamish's enemy, Detective Inspector Blair.
Mystery buffs new to the series will find this Highland fling easy to follow, and those who are already fans will delight in the hint of a new long-term relationship for their laconic hero. --Barrie Trinkle
From Publishers Weekly
Some things never change: the idyllic Scottish village of Lochdubh remains a serene haven around which all manner of rural skullduggery continues to threaten the laconic existence of the local copper, the tall, tousle-haired, chronically unambitious and hopelessly love-crossed Hamish Macbeth (Death of a Scriptwriter, etc.). Recovering drug addict Tommy Jarret rents a place near Lochdubh to write his autobiography. He seems to be on the mend, but then he dies of an overdose. Hamish suspects foul play. The bane of his life, his superiors in the big city, declare the case closed, however, so he must move on to other matters, such as the sighting of a monster in a local loch. But when Jarret's pals provide the police with a link to big-time drug dealers, Hamish finds himself in Amsterdam, wearing sharp suits, talking like a hoodlum and posing as a player, all in the company of a very pretty superior officer who just might change his mind about superior officers. Unfortunately, Hamish all but blows his chances with her by sleeping with a hooker. While the Macbeth tales are always a droll treat, this 15th in the series is less tightly plotted than most, with the mystery surrounding the addict's death sidetracked for a long spell as the Amsterdam adventure gives fans an agreeably tougher side of P.C. Macbeth to contemplate. Mystery Guild featured alternate. (May) FYI: In addition to the Hamish Macbeth and Agatha Raisin (see below) series, the pseudonymous Beaton writes Regency romances under her real name of Marion Chesney.
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