Cover image for Death of a poison pen
Death of a poison pen
Beaton, M. C.
Personal Author:
[Large print edition].
Publication Information:
Waterville, Me. : Wheeler Pub., [2004]

Physical Description:
288 pages (large print) ; 24 cm
Format :


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Vacationer Jenny Ogilvie comes to Lochdubh with plans to seduce perennial bachelor Hamish Macbeth. Terribly jealous of Priscilla Halburton-Smythe, her snooty co-worker and Macbeth's former fiancie, the pretty and flirtatious Londoner arrives at the gale-swept loch expecting the craggy Highlander of her dreams. Instead she finds a tall, gangling, red-haired policeman too preoccupied to notice her overtures. Macbeth has more serious matters on his mind.

Author Notes

M. C. Beaton's real name is Marion Chesney. She was born in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1936. She has written over a hundred books under her own name and other pseudonyms: Ann Fairfax, Helen Crampton, Jennie Tremaine, Charlotte Ward, and Sarah Chester. She started her writing career while working as a fiction buyer for a bookstore in Glasgow.

Working at one time or another as a theater critic, newspaper reporter, and editor, she used her British background to write a series of regency romances set in England and Scotland. Some of her regency romances include The Folly, Colonel Sandhurst to the Rescue, and Regency Gold. In 1986, she was awarded the Romantic Times Award for Outstanding Regency Series Writer.

She has also written two mystery series under the pseudonym M. C. Beaton: The Hamish Macbeth Series, which became the inspiration for a television show in England, and The Agatha Raisin Series, about a retired advertising executive. Her title His and Hers made The New York Times Best Seller List for 2012.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Lochdubh, a fictive tiny village in the Scottish Highlands, has been visited by every conceivable type of murder in the long-running series starring local cop Hamish Macbeth. In this, the twentieth entry, the weapon of choice is the poison-pen letter. A spate of letters (including one accusing the stolid rector's wife of having an affair with the much younger Macbeth) spreads bad will, uncovers old secrets, and leads directly to two homicides. Beaton's cozies (she also writes the Agatha Raisin series) are a bit on the old-fashioned side. There is very little police procedure, much romance, and sometimes too much village minutiae. What rescues the Macbeth series from being Agatha Christie retreads are Macbeth's quirks, the deft social comedy, and the wonderfully realized Highlands atmosphere. This time, by bringing an outsider to the village (a woman up from London expressly to seduce Macbeth), Beaton effectively opens up the social comedy. A first-rate cozy. --Connie Fletcher Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

British author Beaton's Hamish Macbeth series remains reliable on several fronts: her Scots police officer Hamish will solve the crimes in an appropriately heroic and entertaining way; he will be as clueless as ever in regard to the women who set their caps for him; and he will continue to resist both promotion out of his remote village of Lochdubh and restrictions imposed by his nominal superiors. In this, the 20th entry (after 2003's Death of a Village), a series of poisoned pen letters have the townspeople of the nearby town of Braikie on edge, and rumor and suspicion threaten to lead to violence. Hamish faces danger of another sort, when Jenny Ogilvie, a London friend of Hamish's old flame Priscilla Halburton-Smythe, decides that romancing Hamish would be a delicious way to bother Priscilla. The author adeptly limns her village characters' foibles and frailties, and the poisoned pen letters set them off in high relief. Set pieces abound, from detective Jimmy Anderson's cadging of drinks, to Detective Chief Inspector Blair's ineptness and animosity, to the endless misunderstandings that separate Hamish and reporter Elspeth Grant. While the tunes Beaton's characters dance to may be familiar, they vary just enough to keep fans turning the pages. Mystery Guild Featured Alternate. (Feb. 9) FYI: Beaton is also the author of Agatha Raisin and the Haunted House (2003) and other titles in her Agatha Raisin mystery series. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Lochdubh's Constable Hamish Macbeth (Death of a Village) unwillingly becomes a romantic interest to several women. After a poison-pen letter accuses Macbeth of having an affair with the minister's wife, the postmistress is discovered suspiciously dead near another such letter. A third woman offers her sleuthing "skills." Cool fun. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

Adult/High School-Poison pen letters have been appearing all over the Scottish Highlands town of Braikie-and then a spate of murders and suicides ensues. Hamish Macbeth, the local constable of a nearby village, must get to the bottom of things without drawing too much attention to himself. If he sorts out another local mystery, he risks being promoted, and that would take him away from all that he loves in sleepy Lochdubh. As the Highlands' weather veers wildly from one extreme to another, Hamish dodges pesky superior officers and follows his own paths among the people he understands better than any outsider can. The place has no shortage of eccentrics but most of Lochdubh's regulars take a back seat to several 20-somethings who become an integral part of the story as it develops. They include a vacationer from London with dangerously poor judgment; an enterprising local reporter as unconventional as Hamish himself; another reporter, a caddish but "charming Irishman"; a bullied young secretary at the local school; and away in London, but never far from Hamish's mind, his star-crossed soul mate. Readers unfamiliar with the series can easily begin with this volume, but if they do, they are likely to seek out the earlier novels. This fictional world-part cozy, part unsparing-can be highly addictive.-Christine C. Menefee, Fairfax County Public Library, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.