Death of a Chimney Sweep By M.C. Beaton

Beaton is a star at character development. She starts a book and from the first page you are hooked. Here we meet an English couple who have moved to a small village in Scotland to live out their retirement. He is a retired army man who has invested well for their future. Well, that is what it looks like from the outside. Once the doors are closed we see he browbeats his wife, doesn’t allow her to make friends or even talk to the women in the village and leaves her alone for long periods of time. There are some people in books you don’t mind seeing get topped – harsh but true. He ends up dead and it is up to Hamish Macbeth, the local plod, to figure out who could possibly want him dead up in the middle of nowhere. As we delve deeper we find out the dead man has done some bad investing for others and they may just want their money back.

As is usual in Macbeth mysteries he is almost tormented by the women in his life. He is in love with the hotel/landowner’s daughter but another lassie who has moved on in her journalism career ,and out of the village, has also captured his heart. This is an ongoing soap opera in his life and quite humourous at times. This book even sees the rumour mill talking about him and the doctor’s wife. What next?? You have to read it to find out.

The story also takes us down to Surrey which is interestingly part of my old stomping grounds. Well maybe that isn’t interesting to you but it was to me. Macbeth could only stick out like a sore thumb in the very suburban county where a thick Scottish brogue is very noticeable. Macbeth perseveres, is like a bulldog and doesn’t let go until he figures out the ins and outs of the dead man’s life. He begins to get worried as he sees a pattern developing which includes several crimes as well as other murders. He believes the instigator is not only wily but extremely cruel, cold and has had his pride hurt by a foolish choice he has made. All his suspects seem to have perfect alibis and he is told to back off and get back to small local crimes. That wouldn’t be much of a book though would it?

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