Thursday, February 3, 2011

Death of a Chimney Sweep-M. C. Beaton

Death of a Chimney Sweep
M. C. Beaton
Grand Central, Feb 25 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 9780446547390

Cantankerous Captain Henry and Milly Davenport move into a rundown Georgian mansion just outside of Drim, Scotland. Davenport leaves his home for a brisk walk but fails to come home. His corpse is found in the chimney of his new home when his blood dripped down.

The villagers assume mild mannered chimney sweep Pete Ray killed Davenport, but that seems so out of character for a man who has wandered the Highlands cleaning the soot out of so many homes for years. The Drim beat cop is miles across a mountain and moors away, but Lochdubh Police Constable Hamish Macbeth leads the homicide inquiry. He has doubts Pete is the killer. His belief is affirmed when Pete dies during a suspicious motorcycle accident on the nearby moors. Macbeth believes the predator seeks something that he or she is willing to kill for to obtain.

Though there are murders, the latest Macbeth police procedural (see Death of a Valentine) is an entertaining lighthearted Scottish romp. The eccentric cast starting with the beat cop who rarely makes it over to Drim turns the story line into fun time in rural Scotland as the cozy welcoming of the villagers supersedes the suspense of the killer.

Harriet Klausner

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