Sunday, March 29, 2015

Review: Death of a Liar by M.C. Beaton

Death of a Liar (Hamish Macbeth, Book #31)
by M.C. Beaton
Release Date: February 3rd, 2015
2015 Grand Central Publishing
Ebook Edition; 272 Pages
ISBN: 978-1455504787
Genre: Fiction / Mystery / Cozy
Source: Review copy from publisher

2 / 5 Stars

Sergeant Hamish Macbeth is alarmed to receive a report from a woman in the small village of Cronish in the Scottish Highlands. She has been brutally attacked and the criminal is on the loose. But upon further investigation, Hamish discovers that she was lying about the crime. So when the same woman calls him back about an intruder, he simply marvels at her compulsion to lie. This time, though, she is telling the truth. Her body is found in her home and Hamish must sort through all of her lies to solve the crime.

My Thoughts
Death of a Liar is the next book in a long-running series of books featuring Hamish Macbeth.  I don't really think it's necessary to read the books in order to get a sense of the series, only to flesh out some of the recurring characters who appear in the books from time to time and what happened between them and Hamish in the past so as to understand the tension / relationship in today's terms.  And while I sort of enjoyed the mystery aspect to this novel, I did not enjoy the main character at all; to be honest, I found him to be quite annoying and disrespectful towards others.

As far as the plot went, it was okay.  There were no great plot twists or turns that stunned the reader into insensibility, but it was interesting and as usual, I liked the quirkiness of the characters that you got to meet along the way: there was Anka, the baker; Dick, the lovable policeman; Samantha, the fox lady, and so on.  I really liked these characters and hope they stay on for further books.  Introducing Samantha raised the fox / hunting issue in the Highlands and it was nice to see some others themes / awarenesses brought into these books; it gives you more a sense of the issues plaguing people who live in this area.  One of the things that is definitely getting to me though, is the behaviour of Hamish's bosses Superintendent Daviot and Inspector Blair. Both of these men are quite dangerous and toxic in their jobs for very different reasons; Blair has a self-confidence issue and resents Hamish profoundly because he is very good at his job and outshines him consistently while Daviot can be quite useless for his closemindedness when it comes to investigating certain people in his social circles and who accepts Blair's deferential treatment as his due. I'm not sure why this behaviour has continued for so long in these books, but I find it very annoying and it's time to put an end to these behaviours, especially as they have consistently hindered investigations and almost caused officers who work under them to get seriously hurt.  Why are there no investigations into their conduct and behaviour as well?

And this leads me to Hamish himself.  At the beginning of the series I found Hamish to be quite interesting and likeable, with a quirky humour.  In the past few novels however, I have found him to be quite irritating and very unlikable.  I thought at first it might just be one of those novels where things don't go so well for Hamish and he's having a bad spell, but then he'll be back to normal; however, this has continued for quite a while now, and in this novel, I didn't like him at all.  It is one thing to go above your boss's head and do some investigating on your own, but I felt like there was no team camaraderie anywhere in this novel; even Jimmy was complaining because Hamish was getting all of the credit.  I felt like I was reading about a bunch of whiny boys who were only doing the job in order to get credit and fame, rather than doing the job for the job itself.  And Hamish? Bitter and resentful the entire novel.  He whined about not having a love life, about having his assistant constable live with him, about when his assistant constable left, about the new assistant constable, about everything!! Yes, I realize he has had trouble with his love life, having been twice engaged, but maybe he needs to look at his own actions and behaviours first in order to figure out why. Personally, there needs to be some resolution to this dilemma l as I find the whole thing childish and Hamish to be childish.  I like how he fights to stay on at Lockdubh in order to take care of the people who live there, and that is definitely a good thing, but he clearly needs to show some respect for those around him.

Death of a Liar is the latest in a long series featuring Hamish Macbeth, and I think it may be my last one for quite a while.  I just found the plot too predictable for me, and I haven't seen any growth in Hamish for many books; in fact, I feel like he has degenerated into this whiny child who doesn't treat those around him with respect or love.  It definitely doesn't make for interesting reading like it used to.  I am incredibly disappointed about this, but unless there are some big changes in store for our red-headed policeman, both in his personal life and in his personality, I just don't think I can read another one of these books. 


  1. This is one of those authors and series I've heard about often, but never got around to picking up the books. Good review.

  2. I agree with you. I think the series has run its course and although I've loved both the Hamish and the Agatha Raisin ones, I've also found her a little irritating on latter mysteries too. They did do a television series of some of the Hamish books.