Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Death of a Chimney Sweep: Review

Death of a Chimney Sweep by M. C. Beaton is a cozy little mystery that I won from Cheryl at CMash Loves to Read back in February. This particular Hamish MacBeth story is again set in the tiny villages of Drim and Lochdubh...places in the far north of Scotland where home owners still employ a village chimney sweep to care for their chimneys. Pete Ray has always been dependable--until the day that the master of the house whose chimney he's cleaning goes on a walk and never returns. Pete winds up missing as well, leaving the door to the house wide open and no clues behind. Except for that strange dripping noise that Milly Davenport hears when she returns from shopping. She investigates, is shocked to see that what is dripping is blood--from the chimney--and she calls in Constable MacBeth.

The body in the chimney is Milly's husband, Captain Henry Davenport, and it doesn't take MacBeth's superiors long to decide that the culprit must be the missing sweep. When his body is found with his crashed motorbike and a stash of stolen loot from the Davenport house, Chief Inspector Blair is ready to close the case. But MacBeth isn't. He knew Pete and he knows he wasn't a thief let alone a murderer. He arranges for more forensic testing to be done...and for a story to be leaked to the press and Blair is forced to keep the case open. MacBeth will have to follow a long trail of fraud, faulty business deals, and further murders before he finally lands the psychopathic killer behind the crimes.

I've discovered that the Hamish MacBeth stories are ones that I will have to take in small doses. They are well written, quick reads, and tell interesting stories, but there are some pretty formulaic parts that I just don't think I could stand if I read several of these in a row. For instance, this is about MacBeth's 25th murder case (just counting those that have been written about) and he's still considered "that loony Constable," still accused of jumping to conclusions by his superior (Blair), and never given credit where it's due. Yes, he's a little stubborn and he does have some flights of intuition, but the man has been right
twenty-five times. Surely Blair ought to know by now that he's got a pretty sharp man holding down the beat in Drim and Lochdubh. This is only the third of the series that I've read and Blair's attitude is already getting the better of me. Othewise, a fun little mystery. A nice little diversion from my non-fiction read (which is taking for-ev-er). Three stars.

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