In the 24th installment in the Hamish MacBeth series, Hamish
returns from a disappointing trip to Spain to find a
mysteriously troublesome new resident in Lochdubh.
Catriona Beldam (with a faint Highland accent despite her
outlandish name) has set herself up in an old fisherman's
cottage selling herbs and potions. Funnily enough, her
customers all seem to be men of the village, who tend to
sneak up alone, often late at night.
After it becomes clear her remedies are causing harm (and
itchy testicles) rather than helping a man be more of a man,
Hamish tries and fails to run her out of town, then turns to
warning the villagers against her, promising to 'handle the
matter'. When she winds up murdered and her cottage burned,
he's the prime suspect, but far from the only one.
As more murders follow Hamish does his best to feed leads to
his friend, Detective Sergeant Jimmy Anderson. He is walking
a fine line between being involved in the investigation to
protect his village, while avoiding any risk of being
promoted to the Strathbane Police Station and away from
The mystery is intriguing and the danger real, but the true
charm in DEATH OF A WITCH is Beaton's gift to the reader of
more time spent in the company of the characters of the
village, and the vivid descriptions of weather and landscape
surrounding the tale.
Recurring characters include Elspeth the reporter, and
Hamish's unrequited love, Priscilla. New to the series is a
curly-headed member of the forensic team with big blue eyes,
a curvy figure, and ambitions for Hamish and his career.
I am as likely to pick up a new Hamish MacBeth book to find
out the state of his love life and how old Angus and the
Currie sisters are doing as in anticipation of a page-
turning mystery, on both counts, DEATH OF A WITCH satisfies
Returning from a foreign holiday, Hamish Macbeth is worried
because he senses a dark cloud of evil hanging over the
Highland village of Lochdubh. He learns that a newcomer,
Catriona Beldame, is regarded as a witch and various men
have been seen visiting her. Hamish himself is charmed by
her until he finds out she has been supplying dangerous
potions. At first the villagers won't listen to him, saying
that the loveless Hamish has turned against all women. He
threatens to kill her so that when she is found murdered, he
must clear his name and then work to solve yet another
murder to bring peace and quiet back to his beloved village.
His investigations are complicated by a romance with a
female forensic expert. Perhaps he'll get married at last!