This 31st book in the Hamish Macbeth series begins the way I like a mystery to begin: with a murder. This isn’t just any murder, though. It’s the first of many. Sergeant Macbeth thinks they’re all related, and he’s determined to solve the case.
While Hamish is busy investigating, we watch him navigate his sort of pitiful love life, his friendship with his sidekick Dick, and his relationships with his police superiors.
I liked seeing Hamish’s whole life and how he prioritized work, women, and friends. Beaton succeeds in making him a three-dimensional character that way. I was grateful, because this is the first Hamish Macbeth book I’ve read, and I understood the character in the first few chapters.
Beaton wrote some fun criminals, too. I laughed at their antics and raised my eyebrows quite a few times. The recurring secondary characters were a little flat, though. I didn’t feel like I knew Dick or Jimmy or Blair or any of the other police officers. As a matter of fact, they all got jumbled up for me. I kept going back to earlier chapters to sort them out in my mind. And that doesn’t make for fun reading.
The writing was good for the most part. Sentence structure was perfect, descriptions and word choice were on point. The Scottish bits were terrific! The dialogue was a little weak, though, with some stilted conversation. I also noticed quite a bit of telling-instead-of-showing. Combined, it made the book plod along for me.
And just a little subjectivity: what in the world was the point of Anka? She was sent to the forefront so often that I really thought she would end up with a bigger part than she had. Maybe it’s a tease for books to come?
So in the end, I liked the actual mystery, and I could appreciate the main character, but the rest of the book just didn’t do it for me. But if you’re a mystery buff and a fan of a largely male cast, you might enjoy Death of a Liar. Check it out.