Book Review: Death of a Kingfisher

Scotland’s favorite constable, Hamish Macbeth is smitten by the lovely Mary Leinster who is pumping some much-needed revenue into the local village economy by marketing a beautiful piece of woodland property. By changing the name of Buchan’s Wood to “The Fairy Glen” coupled with professionally done brochures featuring a kingfisher above a picturesque pond, tourists begin flocking to Braikie’s little community. But not everyone is happy about the source of Braikie’s prosperity as Hamish discovers after receiving a frantic call from Mary regarding a murder. To his chagrin, Hamish dutifully reports a possible murder to his superiors only to find out it was a kingfisher which was found dead, hung from a tree branch where it was certain to be discovered. A quick investigation found the entire nest of kingfishers had been poisoned, but why. On the heels of an “accident” at the Fairy Glen, a very real murder takes place and soon Hamish finds himself matching wits with psychopathic children, money hungry parents and Russian mobsters.  

With satisfyingly complex plots, Hamish’s doomed romances and colorful characters, it is little wonder this extended mystery series has lasted so long or endeared itself to so many fans. Smoothly paced with a cast of truly unlikable antagonists, this has all the clever twists and surprises readers have come to expect from Beaton. A somewhat ambiguous conclusion leaves room for conjecture about whether Hamish will have his hands full later as two warped individuals are still on the loose and having killed, will no doubt do so again. It is nice to see the character evolution, inclusion of modern technology and a tip of the hat to old beliefs, all of which make this a treat.

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