Death of a Village has to be the most intriguing title in the Hamish Macbeth series. In all of the other titles, there's a reference to a death of a single person . . . who can be spotted in the first few pages of the book. In this case, you'll have a strong suspicion which village is doomed . . . but you won't know what's coming until it happens.
Normally, Hamish Macbeth manages to solve one major crime during the course of a book. Well, in Death of a Village, Hamish is a positive crime-stopping superman . . . with a little help from his friends.
The book opens in an odd fashion: Hamish makes a rare visit to off-the-beaten-path Stoyre and finds a curious quiet and reticence in the town. But he's even more amazed to find that the church is full for services during the day on a Monday. That's some religious revival!
Intrigued by the change, Hamish recruits local reporter, horoscope writer, and frustrated Hamish-chaser, Elspeth Grant, to help him find out what's going on. Nosing around and taking in Sunday services reveals nothing out of the ordinary . . . except to confirm the curious quiet and reticence that Hamish spotted on the first visit. But, before long, there's a surprise in Stoyre. Hamish eventually decides to take a holiday and spend it in Stoyre to get the lay of the land.
His concern is quickly distracted by a break-in at the grocery in Braikie, where all the wine and spirits have been taken. But Hamish senses that something funny is going on. Using his initiative, Hamish checks out the records of the grocer's supplier and makes several surprising finds. But the success backfires when Hamish adds to his local reputation as a woman chaser.
Before the first case is done, he gets a call from a frightened Bella Comyn and her fear of her husband. Pretty soon, the husband is missing and Hamish is puzzled by odds and ends of the case. Sleuthing again leads to unexpected evidence.
A visit to a Lochdubh widow, Mrs. Annie Docherty, leads Hamish to hear a surprising accusation which he decides to investigate with Mrs. Docherty's help. It quickly becomes curiouser and curiouser.
Through all of these investigations, Hamish achieves successes that are quite impressive. Once again, promotion threatens and Hamish has to pull out all the stops to derail being uprooted from his beloved Lochdubh.
M. C. Beaton packed enough mysteries and action into this story to make three regular Hamish Macbeth stories.
If you like Hamish Macbeth, you'll love Death of a Village.