Book Review: Death of a Witch

Beaton’s popular Hamish Macbeth mystery series, now on its twenty-fourth title, continues to surprise and delight fans with gentle humor and the confirmed bachelor’s brushes with romance. Highland police constable Hamish returned from an unsatisfying vacation in Spain to find the quiet Scottish village of Lochdubh in an uproar over its newest tenant, Catriona Beldame. After Hamish had private words with a few local married men, he realized Catriona was dispensing possibly dangerous herbal cures for impotence or to increase their sex drives. The villagers viewed Catriona as a witch and a threat to Lochdubh’s peace so naturally; Hamish sought to dissuade her from peddling potions. After her refusal, Hamish was heard to say he wanted to kill her, an idle expression that would come back to haunt him. Shortly after Hamish discovered Catriona’s body in her cottage, the building and body went up in flames.

As suspicion falls on Hamish, he finds his hands full trying to uncover Catriona’s real identity while attempting to sort out his feelings regarding two former love interests and a possible relationship with the lovely forensic pathologist Lesley Seaton. Soon, other local women turn up murdered and fears of a serial killer loose in the highlands grips the residents. It’s up to Hamish to crack the case, no easy task when he must sidestep Blair’s every move to discredit him and worse, he must accept the possibility that the murderer could be a Lochdubh resident.

Hamish’s ongoing romantic problems, one-upmanship with Blair, interesting pets and a hilarious ending make for a surprisingly strong entry in this long running series. Unlike many series, readers need not start at the beginning to enjoy Hamish’s many adventures and dry wit.

 

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