Do you ever remember dreading Christmas? Did something happen to make it all turn out all right? If not, you will find good holiday cheer in M. C. Beaton's A Highland Christmas.
The sun barely peeks over the horizon for a few hours near the solstice in Lochdubh. Most villagers hunker down indoors and perhaps take a wee dram while wishing that the telly would offer some new shows rather than rerunning Miracle on 34th Street for the hundredth time.
Where is the festiveness of the season? The religious villagers see Christmas as merely a pagan festival that no true Christian would observe. The streets are quiet, the houses are dark, and Hamish is lonely as the book opens. His family has fled to warmer climes after his mum wins a contest for writing a soap powder slogan. Priscilla is off in New York working on a computer contract.
How will Hamish celebrate the holidays? Hopefully, without a murder investigation intruding.
In a change of pace, this story focuses on the role of community policing and takes Hamish away from most serious crime. The old recluse, Mrs. Gallagher, has lost her cat, Smoky, and demands that Hamish leave no stone unturned to find Smoky. Hamish turns curious about Mrs. Gallagher when he realizes that she seems afraid of something more than a lost cat.
In searching for the cat, Hamish addresses the town's schoolchildren and asks them to be on the lookout. He asks them what they will receive for Christmas, and the children seem mostly happy. But did he spot a worried face?
In neighboring, but unneighborly, Cnothan, an enterprising vendor has persuaded the town to raise money by donation to purchase a tree and lights for the very first time. But the hopes for a festive celebration are dashed when the supply shed is broken into. Hamish follows the trail of needles to some tire tracks.
Hamish decides it would be kind to take the new teacher, Maisie Pease, out for dinner. She's soon swept up in his attention and invites Hamish for Christmas dinner. Will it be grand? How will he respond to mistletoe?
While trying to find out about Mrs. Gallagher's background, Hamish stumbles onto a nursing home where the patients could use some holiday cheer. Soon, Hamish has arranged for entertainment and brings his own party to celebrate.
With the clock ticking down towards Christmas day, Hamish finds himself with an opportunity to play Santa Claus. But will Detective Chief Inspector Blair destroy the good cheer?
And wonder of wonders . . . what will Hamish get for Christmas?
Don't miss this heart-warming story. It'll be one of your favorites.