Book Review – October 2013 – Sallie Eden

death_of_a_kingfisherDeath of a Kingfisher by MC Beaton – Published by C&R Crime, February 2013 (first published 2012)

(Also available as an audio book, narrated by David Monteath (who is interviewed in this month’s Writers Talking))

A Hamish Macbeth murder mystery, set in the Scottish Highlands, near to the beautiful Buchan’s Wood, now rebranded as “The Fairy Glen”. Coaches and tourists descend on the area and all is just what the tourist board hoped for, until a kingfisher is found hanging in the wood.

When newcomer Mrs Colchester is found murdered, it’s no real surprise as she isn’t popular, even with her own family, but the manner of her death is certainly unexpected. Further crime follows as the action moves away from the wood and motives become murkier.

Verdict: This is the 27th in the series and one of the weakest, with a confusing plot, stereotypical Londoners, Russian gangsters, one night stands, allegations of abuse and a cartoon police sidekick. Such a shame, as the earlier books (on which the BBC series with Robert Carlyle were based) were gentle and well defined.**(for the book)

However….David Monteath’s reading of the book transforms it; he has the ideal voice for the setting and characters – a sort of Scottish Martin Jarvis, able to draw you into a story, simply by the power of his timing and engaging voice. Even though I wasn’t impressed with the story when I read it, the audio version was engrossing and, despite the lack of dimension of some of the written characters, it was involving in a way the book wasn’t. If you like a “book at bedtime”, this could be for you.*****(for the narration)

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