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Escape with Hamish and Agatha – Always good for a laugh


One of the most popular authors of mystery novels is British writer    M. C. Beaton, who writes The Hamish Macbeth and Agatha Raisin mystery series, as well as many others under various pen names.

Her most recent, and the 30th in the Hamish Macbeth series, is Death of A Liar. After reading the 29th in the series Death of a Policeman I hesitated slightly before reading the most recent. M. C. Beaton can write reasonably well but you’d never know it while reading Death of a Policeman. It is so badly composed there were many times I felt like pitching it in the trash bin – but I persevered to the end as I needed to know what was going to happen!

Highland policeman Hamish Macbeth tires his best to maintain his under-achieving life as a village bobby, but despite his best efforts he seems to be constantly solving the crimes that come his way. With the future of his tiny police station at risk Hamish has all the more reason to fear for his future in Death of a Policeman.

Death of a Liar finds Hamish investigating several murders; the first victim is a woman known to be a constant liar, no one believing her when she calls for help. This murder is followed by others that at first appear to have no connection. Hamish suspecting that drugs and a sort of cultish religious leader are involved is off on his own in an attempt to solve these crimes and return Lochdubh to peaceful harmony. He is also still trying to ensure the future of his little police station and his happy life, while looking for romance without much success. Death of a Liar is laugh-out-loud funny at times and so superior to Death of a Policeman in every way.

The other popular series by M. C. Beaton is one featuring the irreverent, sometimes nasty and always politically incorrect Agatha Raisin. The Blood of an Englishman the 25th in this series and finds poor Agatha without a man at the moment, but ever susceptible to masculine beauty.

In this installment Agatha goes through more than a few pretty faces. One may be beautiful but he serves microwaved pizza and wine “a friend brought back from Bulgaria” and that’s the end of that romance. Another turns out to be a gold digger, and another has more serious faults as a future lover or husband, leaving poor Agatha with a lonely bed.

Her former husband, James, and her good friend, Charles, however provide male company – though Agatha complains that Charles goes in and out of her life like he’s using a cat flap. Agatha is at her curmudgeonly best in this novel, cursing “snakes and bastards” as one person or another irritates her. Luckily her friends do not abandon her to her miserly loneliness or she’d have found herself the filling for a very nasty meat pie, as a maniacal murderer brings madness and mayhem to a seemingly idyllic English village.

M.C. Beaton just cranks them out, mystery novels and romances, under a variety of pseudonyms. She doesn’t worry about using the same adjectives and adverbs more than once, or twice or three times on a page. You’ll whip off her books in a few hours – but it is such fun for those few hours of total escape from the real world. 


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