DEATH OF A POLICEMAN has convinced me that M.C. Beaton might just have finally lost her groove with the Hamish Macbeth series. Gone are the quirky almost mystic cosy qualities of Scottish life with a cheeky Hamish, and in its place is something much darker, almost heading into noir territory. Hamish himself may have taken a step away from cheeky and got nearer to nasty and unpleasant. I am really not totally happy with this change. When I read a Hamish Macbeth mystery, I like to chuckle at the antics of Hamish, not want to ring up the police and report him. He breaks and enters, steals evidence, commits acts of vandalisms and then has no qualms about blackmail. Don’t get me wrong, our cheeky police officer has long had a habit of bending the law to suit his own purposes but in DEATH OF A POLICEMAN he seems to have gone beyond cheeky and stepped into a dark angry place. Hamish is downright miserable and mean and I just don’t want to be around him anymore. Normally I love visiting Lochdubh, I always feel as though I am visiting old friends, but the heart seems to have gone out of the long-time villagers – there is no longer any depth to them – it’s just like they are going through the motions of living. The new characters are not much better; they just didn’t come alive for me at all, and some didn’t stay around that long for us to get to know them better anyway. As the blurb tells you a police officer is murdered but in the course of the investigation the body count rises alarmingly, people are killed by shotgun blasts, bashed in heads, covered in petrol and set on fire, left to die of starvation, and blackmailed into suicide. This is not what I expect in my cosy highland mysteries, well not all in the one story anyway! I also need to add that I didn’t understand the reasoning behind some of these murders they just happened almost gratuitously from left field as if M.C. Beaton thought to herself time for another body!
So bring back the nice Hamish who is basically happy, carefree and a little bit naughty, find him a woman and give up on dragging his exes back every book. Then bring back the quirky Scottish village and it’s even quirkier residents. I want to have more mystery and less horrible nasty violence. I want to laugh occasionally while I’m reading Hamish, not end up feeling down in the dumps and depressed. DEATH OF A POLICEMAN is not really a bad book if you like meatier murder mysteries, however, that is NOT what I am looking for when I pick up a Hamish Macbeth book.
Rating: D (2 star) – Average – it was OK, a bit of a struggle to finish whatever redeemable aspects there were to this book, they were not fleshed out enough for me to truly enjoy it.
With thanks to Grand Central Publishing and the author via Netgalley for my copy to read and review