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Tuesday, 4 January 2011

A Highland Christmas by M.C. Beaton

In dark, wintry Lochdubh, Christmas Cheer is about as welcome as a flat tyre on a deserted road. The Calvinist element in town has always resisted what they view as secular frivolity, so for most of the townsfolk there'll be no carols, feasting, gifts - or even whisky on Christmas Day! And for PC Hamish Macbeth there's no holiday from crime - he finds himself hunting for a missing cat belonging to a lonely spinster. Curt and unfriendly, the woman is convinced her pet has been stolen but once behind her heavily-bolted door, Hamish can spot her true problem - she lives in fear, though of who or what he cannot guess. Then someone steals a Christmas tree and lights from the nearby village of Cnothan. So it is up to Hamish to sort all these problems out - and he had better do it quickly, for the church bells will soon peal on the eve of Christmas. Praise for the "Hamish Macbeth" series: 'First rate ...deft social comedy and wonderfully realized atmosphere' - "Booklist". 'It's always a treat to return to Lochdubh' - "New York Times". 'Readers will enjoy the quirks and unique qualities of the cast ...Beaton catches the beauty of the area's natural geography and succinctly describes its distinct flavour' - "Library Journal". 'Befuddled, earnest and utterly endearing, Hamish makes his triumphs sweetly satisfying' - "Publishers Weekly".
This is the first M C Beaton I have read and found it a nice, comfy read for over the festive period. An easy read, to curl up with on a cold night. The book is only 130 pages long, with rather large text so is perfect for a holiday read and also includes some pencil drawings setting the scene for the story.
The story follows Hamish Macbeth, the village police man in Lochdubh and his investigation into the missing Christmas tree and lights.
The focus of the story is on village life and community spirit. The older villagers see Christmas as becoming pagan celebration rather than the religious event they celebrate. Hamish is alone as his family has left him for warmer climbs but he has some female company from the local school teacher. Hamish also decides the local retirement home need some Christmas festivities to cheer up their day and begins to make plans, while finding missing cats and Christmas lights.
The story is not a real crime who done it but is great for an easy, quick read which could be read in one sitting and enjoyed by all .
Thank you to Alex at Constable and Robinson for sending me the book to review.

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