Death of a Gossip – M.C. Beaton
Bantam Books, 1994
Nobody liked Lady Jane Winters. Arriving with a class of wealthy anglers in the small Highland village of Lochdubh, it didn’t take her long to start rattling skeletons – from the private scandal of political hopeful Jeremy Blythe to the grubby past of love-struck secretary Alice Wilson, everyone has something to hide. She even manages to get on the wrong side of local bobby and part-time poacher Hamish Macbeth, whose uneasy predictions turn out to be well-founded when Lady Jane is found dead. It seems obvious that the easygoing, unambitious constable will step aside and leave the murder investigation to his superiors…but Hamish, it would appear, is capable of a few surprises.
The first book in the Hamish Macbeth series (possibly a familiar name from the 1990s TV series), Death of a Gossip is light, undemanding, quite funny and a bit charming. Hamish is eccentric and sweet, Lady Jane is suitably ghastly, and everybody’s stuck on the beautiful Highland moors eating sandwiches while the police ham up a murder investigation. It’s like Agatha Christie gone Scottish in the 1980s. How could it possibly be bad?