Beaton, M C - Death of a Witch
DEATH OF A WITCH is the twenty-fifth full length outing for Scotland's least ambitious policeman, PC Hamish Macbeth, who lives in small police house with his strange pets and farm animals in the sea-loch-side Highland village of Lochdubh.
This time around, the perennially single Hamish returns to his village after a disastrous holiday in Spain to discover a new resident has moved in - Catriona Beldame. Ms Beldame has had a string of male visitors it seems and she has been selling them herbal remedies for sexual ailments. However when the treatments go wrong, the village call her a witch and Hamish tries to get her to leave. He wasn't expecting her to leave this life though and soon he has to look for a murderer within his own community. He is aided by his long-standing friend and ex-fiancee Priscilla Halburton-Smythe and his other potential love-interest reporter Elspeth Grant and to complicate his love-life further he attracts the interest of a forensic scientist recently transferred to the police HQ at Strathbane.
As well as the romantic entanglements he also has a dangerous pair of poachers out to get him. There are more deaths before the penny drops with Hamish and he realises who the murderer is.
Reading a new entry in the Hamish Macbeth series is always a treat and this one is a good addition to the series which touches on some serious issues along the way. The identity of the killer isn't at all obvious and it's fun spending time in Lochdubh with its unusual residents, however murderous a place it is. I particularly enjoy the books where Priscilla reappears as she reminds me of how I devoured the first few books waiting to see if she and Hamish would get married.
The next book in the series, DEATH OF A VALENTINE, is due out (appropriately) in February 2010.
Karen Meek, England