Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Death Of A Kingfisher - M.C. Beaton

Death Of A Kingfisher          
M.C. Beaton
Grand Central Publishing


Superstition still abides in many hearts in northern Scotland.  Unfortunately, so does unemployment.  So, when Mary Leinster decides to transform a wooded area into a Fairy Glen tourist attraction, there’s a mixed reaction from locals.  Mary hired her relatives (after approval of the local council) to build a bridge over the water.  She’s placed ‘fairy footprints’ in the clay around the water for ambience, and a gift shop is under construction.  The brochure for the place shows the resident kingfisher in flight.

Police Sgt. Hamish Macbeth arrives on the scene at the glen after a hysterical call from Mary about a murder.  As it turns out, someone has cruelly killed the beautiful kingfisher and left its body hanging from a tree.  Not long afterwards, Mrs. Colchester, the wealthy widow who owns the hunting lodge adjoining the glen dies in a rather spectacular fashion.  There are plenty of people who disliked her, since she seemed to dislike everyone.  She took a particularly malicious glee in the money troubles of her daughter and son-in-law and even seemed to hate her grandchildren.  It’s up to Hamish to discover the truth about the trouble around the glen.
This novel is the latest in a long-running series, but newcomers will have no problems jumping in here.  There’s a lot of history among the characters, but the author sketches it all in with clear brevity.  After finishing the novel (which I did in an evening, unable to stop reading) I was amazed at the scope of the story.  The prose is almost spare, and the amount of time and action covered in the story seem almost too big to be contained here.  The story unspools with careful pacing, as clues and hints are parceled out or discovered by the investigators.  The setting of northern Scotland is portrayed as stark, yet magnificent, echoing the storytelling talent here.
Rating: 8
March 2012
ISBN# 978-0-446-54736-9 (hardcover)


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