Thursday, November 12, 2009

Death of a Maid by M.C. Beaton

49. Death of a Maid - twenty-third in the Hamish Macbeth series
by M.C. Beaton
mystery, 2007
library audiotape
unabridged audio read by Graeme Malcolm
finished, 10/25/09

I haven't visited with my fictional friend, Hamish Macbeth in a few years. In the spring of 1999, I read the first fourteen (skipping the third because it didn't sound appealing) of these mysteries set in Scotland. I read one right after another, and though they aren't brilliant literary works, they do offer a cozy familiarity that gives great pleasure to this reader. I read one other entry in 2004, but there are still quite a few I haven't read. Recently I came upon an audio version of No. 23 in the series at my local library, and I thought it would be fun to check in with Hamish and see what he was up to.

I do not have a 'maid' or a 'cleaning lady' but I know a few women who do. I've always wondered about the idea of having a perfect stranger (in most cases - especially if you don't live in a small area) come into one's home when no one is there. How could that person resist reading a note left on the fridge from a wife to her husband. 'Don't bother coming home tonight; we are done!' And what about the opposite - a little love note left on a pillow by an adoring spouse? What about the bills that are right out on the desk that must be dusted? Oh, the possibilities for gossip, or worse, blackmail. I know, I know, I live too much in mystery stories and detective shows on television, but honestly how many people wouldn't pry, either on purpose or inadvertantly, as they go about their cleaning?

And this is the premise of Death of a Maid. The maid works for a number of people, and 'collects' their secrets. When she is found dead, there are any number of suspects. This was a very good mystery, and such a nice surprise to see that after twenty-two books in a series, the twenty-third is really quite interesting. Hamish is the local constable of Lochdubh, and is still a happy fellow, living in his police station. He likes working in his small village, and the dread of his life is that he will be 'promoted' to another place. I'll probably seek out some of the others I've missed in the intervening years.


  1. You switched things up...very nice! Even when I dream about having a house cleaner as I am dusting for the millionth time...the thought of a stranger being among our personal effects stops usually bursts that bubble. This one sounds very good and I look forward to reading this series.

  2. I'm scouring the thrift stores and library sales to make a complete set of Hamish to read in my old age, or being snowbound, whichever comes first. If I lived in Lochdubh, I wouldn't want to leave too.

  3. My husband loves these. Funny, they are not much like the television production though. Wonder why?

  4. Nan,

    You amaze me with all the readig you do. And I really like the way you set the stage for this book report. Well done.

    I need winter to help me settle into a good book. Soon. Very Soon.


  5. Funny you should mention cleaning ladies. I was thinking the same thing on Tuesday when mine came to clean. I always stay around while she's here and even make noise ever so often so she'll know I'm close by. I try to go through the house before she gets here to put away anything personal. I make the bed up too and hide my purse under the laundry room sink.

  6. I'm reading Beaton's first Agatha Raisin book now, and didn't realize she had another series. Agatha is wonderful, and it sounds like I'm going to need to check out the Hamish Macbeth series, too!

  7. Sounds interesting, I have never heard of these books but after my recent binge on Alexander McCall Smith, perhaps I should stay in Scotland and try one of them.
    I became quite cross-eyed when I opened your blog, the new layout to keep us all alert.

  8. and today I rushed off to the library and borrowed a copy

    just the thing for a 10 degree f evening by the stove...lovely

  9. I've only read one Hamish MacBeth. I eventually tired of Agatha Raisin but my library still has a few Hamish ones. Must see oif this is amongst them. There's nothing like curling up with a cosy crime now and then.

  10. Thanks, Book Psmith! I think you'll like the books. He's a sweet fellow.

    Rosemary, that's so great! You know, the darkest books in the series are when he is in another village. The others just aren't as pleasant for him or us as is L.

    Pamela, yeah - in the tv show there's that psychic scary fellow and I believe Priscilla dies. Both are not in the books. The only thing I like about the tv versions is Robert Carlyle. He is a perfect Hamish.

    Janell, thank you for your kind words. Winter is a nice time to read, isn't it.

    Debbie, I just laughed at your story!! Sounds like you do more than she does!

    JoAnn, I tried an Agatha R. book years ago and didn't care for it. I should try again, shouldn't I?!

    Carole, I think you'll like them. Cross-eyed, eh? :<)

    Oh, Val, that's great.

    Scriptor S. that's just how I feel. And esp. the 'now and then' part.


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