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Death of a Poison Pen: A Hamish Macbeth Mystery    by M. C. Beaton order for
Death of a Poison Pen
by M. C. Beaton
Order:  USA  Can
Mysterious Press, 2004 (2004)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Constable Hamish Macbeth has his hands full in Death of a Poison Pen. There are the malicious letters themselves, that center in Braikie and soon lead to murder. His usual nemesis, Detective Chief Inspector Blair, blocks the Constable at every turn. Absence is fast losing Hamish the affection of his dog Lugs, and then there is the problem of his overly complicated love life.

Priscilla Halburton-Smythe is away in London, engaged to someone else, but never far from the policeman's thoughts. Close at hand is scruffily dressed local reporter Elspeth Grant, an engaging psychic who seemed attracted to Hamish until he rebuffed her. Also treading on the Constable's investigative heels is curly-headed, jealous Jenny Ogilvie, who's come to Lochdubh to vamp the 'village policeman' whom her friend Priscilla always talks about. Other players include attractive Irish reporter Pat Mallone who takes an interest in Jenny, staff and students of a school, and participants in an old folks' club in Braikie.

As Hamish, and his various helpers, investigate, they discover locals with the most surprising backgrounds. Of course, the Constable solves the crime and the author wraps it all up with a very funny conclusion in which various villagers try (unsuccessfully) to save Hamish from himself. M. C. Beaton writes the coziest of cozies.

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