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Death of a Gossip [Mass Market Paperback]

M.C. Beaton
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Feb. 1 1999 Hamish Macbeth Mysteries
When a famous gossip columnist is murdered at the local fishing school, no one is ready to talk. It's up to Hamish Macbeth, with the inspiring assistance of the lovely Priscilla Halburton-Smythe, to sniff out the right rat amid all the cunning anglers with secrets to hide. But someone has baited a hook for him . . .

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Review

"* 'Beaton, a Scot herself, excels at giving readers a taste of Highland life and creating a believable character in the lonely, brilliant, continually frustrated-in-love Macbeth.' - Booklist * 'An enchanting series....M.C. Beaton has a foolproof plot for the village mystery.' - New York Times Book Review * 'Recommended for all mystery collections.' - Library Journal * 'Superb entertainment, as rich and warming as a fine malt whisky, and every bit as addictive' - Houston Chronicle" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

M.C. Beaton lives in the Cotswolds with her husband. In addition to the Hamish Macbeth series, she writes the Agatha Raisin mystery series. --This text refers to an alternate Mass Market Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
3.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Death of a Gossip is the first book in the Hamish Macbeth mysteries by M.C. Beaton. I decided to read this book after having found many of the references to Hamish Macbeth's motives in the later books to be obscure and puzzling. I was pleased to find that Death of a Gossip does a fine job of setting up the premise for the series; outlining the characters of Hamish Macbeth and his friend, Priscilla Hallburton-Smythe; and establishing a plot structure for the future murder spree in the small village of Lochdubh in the northwestern Highlands of Scotland. If you want to understand those underpinnings, you definitely need to read this book.

However, the book is quite unlike the others in the series in important ways:

1. The premise behind the murder is much more thoughtful and better developed than in the following books.

2. The tension between the victim and the other characters is also better developed.

3. The interplay between Hamish and Priscilla is awkward and embarrassingly at the edge of prurience for burlesque purposes. In later books, this relationship is much better grounded and more interesting.

4. The detection involved is clumsy and disappointing. It's as though M.C. Beaton had missed the last class on how to write a mystery story. In the later books, the detection is a rewarding element of the stories. So this is an unusual false start.

I mention all of these things lest you fail to realize that you have better books ahead of you.

If you have read none of the Hamish Macbeth stories, I recommend you start with this one and read through them in the order that they were published. You'll enjoy the character development better that way.

Here's a thumbnail of the set-up.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Agatha Christie wannabe June 9 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is the first book in the Constable Hamish Macbeth Series. The story takes place in Scotland and revolves around the people who are attending the Lochdubh School of Casting: Salmon and Trout Fishing. The school is run by John and Heather Cartwright who are working hard to make the school a profitable endeavor. The guests include an American couple, an attorney, a secretary, a 12-year-old boy, and ex-army major, and a debutante. These people would have probably gotten along if it had not been for Lady Jane Winters. Lady Jane knows a guilty secret about each of the guests and she is not hesitant to proclaim the secret to everyone. The guests all loathe her, so it is not surprising when she shows up dead, on the end of someone's fishing pole. Hamish Macbeth, the village constable, comes on the scene, but he is not nearly as interesting as Agatha Christie's inimitable Hercule Poirot. Also the solution to the identity of the murderer is pretty straighforward and doesn't have the clever twist that many mystery writers add.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Charming Cozy July 1 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I have read all of the Agatha Raisin series, and I am a great fan of M.C. Beaton's style of cozy, but this is the first Hamish Macbeth book I've read. They are as different from Agatha Raisin as could be, but just as enjoyable. Macbeth is a poky Scottish village constable who appears to not know how to even tie his shoes, but when he sets his mind on discovering a murderer, he shows that he has a mind like a steel trap. He has the Miss Marple knack of being able to compare people and situations to those he is familiar with, and he has the added help of many relatives throughout the world that he can call on for information. In this book Hamish solves the murder of a very nasty woman who has come to the village for a week long fishing school. It turns out that she is a gossip columnist for a tabloid newspaper, and she is at this school to dig up dirt on the other students. A very nasty character indeed, and there is certainly no lack of suspects. Great fun!
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4.0 out of 5 stars A good book Aug. 17 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is the first in a series of mysteries featuring the detective work of small town, Highland Scottish detective Hamish Macbeth, P.C. In this story, John and Heather Cartwright's fishing school is thrown into confusion when the most unladylike Lady Jane Winters arrives. She seems to know the skeletons hidden in the closet of everyone attending the school, and is keen on letting everyone know it. In short order, Lady Jane becomes quite unpopular, and then quite dead. Now, it is up to Hamish to find out who did it and why.
My wife has been a big Hamish Macbeth fan for years, and finally I broke down and began to read them. This was not my favorite Hamish Macbeth book, but I did enjoy it. I liked the setting and the characters, and I especially liked the Cast of Characters list at the start of the book. So, if you are interested in a story set in modern Scotland, or just a good mystery, then I highly recommend this book to you.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of fun. March 17 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Since I began reading these Hamish Macbeth mysteries out of order, it's given me a bit of perspective. In DEATH OF A GOSSIP, the early Hamish (c 1985) is funnier and more awkward, and Priscillla is even more fragile, airy, feminine, and perfect. The whole thing is a little more edgy than some later ones. Beaton creates really unlikable characters -- in this case, the gossip columnist is truly obnoxious. I would have killed her myself. But, unlike some other Beaton books, there's no sense of place this time -- that is, no sense of picturing exactly where everybody was. I always love Beaton's sense of humor. I laughed from page one: "People who travel up here to the wilds of Scotland expect to be instructed by some great hairy Rob Roy, making jokes about saxpence and saying it's a braw bricht moonlicht nicht and lang may your lum reek and ghastly things like that." All in all, a so-so mystery, but a very fun time with Hamish.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Death of a Gossip
If you enjoy following the exploits of Hamish, you will enjoy this read. Outwitting his superiors and the reader at times, Hamish lives up to his reputation. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Sharon Johnson
4.0 out of 5 stars THE BEGINNING OF A WONDERFUL COZY MYSTERY SERIES...
This is the first book in the Hamish Macbeth cozy mystery series. While not the strongest book in the series in that both the mystery and the characters are not that well... Read more
Published on March 13 2012 by Lawyeraau
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent series
This is the first in the Hamish MacBeth series, so it lacks some of the polish of the subsequent books. Read more
Published on June 10 2003
1.0 out of 5 stars go for Agatha instead
I love the Agatha Raisin series that M.C. Beaton also writes, but she dropped the ball on Hamish here. I expected a likeable, if flawed, main character. Read more
Published on April 10 2003 by Miss Ivonne
1.0 out of 5 stars major disappointment
I am always in favor of a light hearted mystery, but I was very disappointed in this book. While the descriptive language in this book is positively delicious, I found the... Read more
Published on April 1 2002
4.0 out of 5 stars A fun and very different British mystery.
When I first started reading this book I didn't quite know what to think. However, I quickly found that I was having quite a bit of fun reading it. Read more
Published on June 7 2001 by A. Gaston
4.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant, traditional British mystery
This is a cozy in the classic sense of the concept. There's just about as little violence as you can have while still having a murder. Read more
Published on Feb. 27 2001 by Carol Peterson Hennekens
4.0 out of 5 stars Quirky characters make for a light, quick read
First of the Hamish MacBeth series, this book introduces the quirky country constable who -- while not ambitious -- refuses to take a back seat to the big city Detective... Read more
Published on Sept. 4 2000 by Jim Allen
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