When Scotland is hit by the recession, Police Constable Hamish Macbeth notices that the Highland people are forced to come up with inventive ways to lure tourists to their sleepy towns. The quaint village of Braikie doesn't have much to offer, other than a place of rare beauty called Buchan's Wood, which was bequeathed to the town. The savvy local tourist director renames the woods "The Fairy Glen," and has brochures printed with a beautiful photograph of a kingfisher rising from a pond on the cover. It isn't long before coach tours begin to arrive. But just as the town's luck starts to turn, a kingfisher is found hanging from a branch in the woods with a noose around its neck. As a wave of vandalism threatens to ruin Braikie forever, the town turns to Hamish Macbeth. And when violence strikes again, the lawman's investigation quickly turns from animal cruelty to murder.
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A delightful, tangled web of intrigue!
This book is delightful, especially for M C Beaton fans, who have learned to suspend disbelief and simply enjoy the odd characters that inhabit Hamish Macbeth's life and the author's amazing imagination. I expect her books to be fraught with plot twists and turns and unusual characters. The humor in this book revolved around the highlanders' belief in fairies, and I howled with laughter when listening to the description of the kingfisher's funeral.
The plot didn't exactly keep me on the "edge of my seat," but I was certainly fascinated by the crafting of the action and introduction of new characters and their motives. I've read other readers'/listeners' criticism of the personality and actions of the flat, amoral children, but I've seen that facial affect in the televised interviews with children of gang life. (I did think that the European escape was a bit "over-the-top", but I dismiss devices like this as part of M.C. Beaton's charm.) As usual this plot is a mixture of the familiar (Hamish's troubles with his superiors, the village characters, the desire by Macbeth to keep his beloved friends out of the murder investigation) with unusual devices that make the action complicated and interesting (the Russian who wants the nursery property as a site for his mansion). I loved it. I don't require M.C. Beaton to be believable at all times.....how could you possibly believe Nessie and Jessie with their verbal repetition and outlandish accusations about Hamish's love life? But it works.
Malcolm has a sense of timing..pausing between scenes, changing voices in a subtle manner so the listener always knows when the speaker changes, but effecting the change in an unobtrusive manner....no screeching or phlegmy voices. His voices add a sense of continuity and realism to the Scottish brogue.
I will never forget the hilarity of the kingfisher's funeral.......so funny and outlandish.
- Chablis from Seattle