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The Hamish MacBeth Series – M.C. Beaton

15 Aug

Every so often I love to dive onto one of my few guilty pleasures and this time instead of my usual dip into the Crabs horror books by Guy N. Smith which I would recommend as perhaps the ultimate in horror farce, I delved into the Hamish MacBeth series, Death of a Dreamer.

The odd thing about these books is that really I shouldn’t enjoy them much at all, there are a whole slew of reasons for me to not like them, yet here I am writing an overview after finishing the 22nd book in the series of 30, so far.  I’m not a huge Cosy Crime fan but I do like a few easy books to read in between the more thought-provoking ones.  I was ensnared by the simplicity of the stories, the gentleness of the setting (ignoring the murders for that point) and the speed with which I can get through them, usually within a few hours.

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Set in Lockdubh, the stories, not surprisingly, revolve around PC Hamish MacBeth.  I feel a lot for Hamish, he is seen as unambitious because he loves the village where his beat is, a picturesque place that all outsiders think beautiful and want to live there.  Yet everybody views him as a failure which indicative of today’s society which demands you earn more and do better in your job continually, moving upward otherwise you are a deemed unambitious.  It is strange that nobody seems content to just do something and be somewhere they are happy with.

suspending disbelief is key to the books of course, I would have questioned this highland hotspot of murder a long time ago if I was the police but where would be the fun in that?  There is a curious sense of dislocation about the whole thing, there is little in the way of reference to the number of previous murders that have occurred, nothing other than a brief nod for the reader of a singular case usually from the previous book.

Okay fair enough that is an easy one to dismiss when in a familiar world, what annoys me though is the lack of momentum to Lochdubh.  The characters don’t seem to ever evolve except the odd one being allowed to change a certain thing in their lives, when that is done though it is for the sake of the plot and not to any sort of character building way.  With no fleshing out of the shallow nature of the characters, it renders them vehicles that often seem boiled down to clichés.  Whether these people are overly stereotyped or not, is not something I can really judge on but they do feel it.

The plots themselves are of varying quality and sometimes include things that are so ridiculous it pulls the reader out of a world that is already teetering on the edge of belief.  This is not helped either by the repetition of certain phrases which become familiar quickly and are noticeable throughout the series to the point that they become irritating to the reader that tackles them all.

If you wish to have a read, you’ll have to start at the beginning as there is a connecting story arc that runs through the books which is all about Hamish’s love life that in itself is tenuous and mildly annoying…in fact a couple of recurring points in the series feel like the author either has no wish to bring conclusions as long as readers keep buying her novels or she has no suitable strong plans in place for dealing with them.  Either way a change in circumstances would be welcome.

Despite having vented over all of that, they are still a curiously addictive read and I do find it a decent way to spend time.  With the 23rd and 24th installments already on the shelf I will happily keep reading despite my huge list of complaints.  Despite formulaic plots and no much forward momentum, I will continue to read these books and enjoy them, even if I can’t quite understand why.

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45 Comments

Posted by on 15/08/2014 in Crime

 

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45 responses to “The Hamish MacBeth Series – M.C. Beaton

  1. Love, Life and Whatever

    15/08/2014 at 16:35

    Some books are for frivolous pursuit I guess

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    • Ste J

      15/08/2014 at 16:40

      It always looks good on my end of year tally though with a few quick win books…next time I will try a short book with substance, something from Camus probably!

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  2. writersideup

    15/08/2014 at 17:37

    I think it’s great you stepped outside your comfort zone and found something you enjoy that doesn’t weigh heavily on the mind, Ste J 🙂 What age groups would you deem them appropriate for? Could they work for middle graders or is there sex and too much graphic violence?

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    • Ste J

      15/08/2014 at 17:43

      The violence is tame enough, usually the murders aren’t really that graphically written…there is worse out there in computer games and such…there is sometimes sexual content in the book, more thought about rather than ‘action’ as it were. Anyone from 16 upwards is probably fine but with kids these days who knows! I do have a lot of lighter books that I have read and plan to read, this year I seem to have gone into the more challenging state of affairs…it’ll even itself out when I get the complete works of Spot the Dog…probably.

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      • writersideup

        15/08/2014 at 17:48

        LOL… Spot the Dog! 🙂 And yeah, it sounds like this can’t go below Young Adult. Thanks, Ste J 😀

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  3. Al

    15/08/2014 at 18:38

    I read all of the Dick Francis book s(I think I may have said that before) up to 1990ish. All were the same – all set around a horse environment, all in the first person perspective, all used to be a former jockey or something, but each one had me compelled to read it. You knew how the book was going to go, but I really enjoyed them. Sometimes we need the regularity of something to keep us fixed in the here and now. The same seems to be for you and the MacBeth books. From the front covers, I thought they were kids books, or at least young adult.

    I am now reading the first book in a series that looks like it is going to be good, although it is over 700 pages long. And that is the first book

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    • Ste J

      15/08/2014 at 18:41

      Blimey, that is an epic beginning to a series, what is it you are undertaking. I think the familiarity shall hence forth be called The A-Team Effect to explain what we mean in blogger shorthand…which reminds me I need to make a glossary of terms so as to not confuse people…

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      • Al

        15/08/2014 at 18:58

        It is the Malazan Book of the Fallen series. Apparently book two is 960 pages. I got the book both on kindle and paperback, it is so nice to read a paper book, it has been so long. I got it on Kindle so I can read it when I go out as well. So when I finish the book, I slide the kindle forward to the same place 😉

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        • Ste J

          15/08/2014 at 19:16

          Surround booking, I admire your way of doing things! I think I have heard of those, I will have to pay closer attention to the series.

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          • Al

            15/08/2014 at 19:43

            It’s looking good so far

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  4. readingwithrhythm

    15/08/2014 at 19:30

    haha! This review tickled my funny bone! Gripe and complain and then say “Go read it!” It must be a good series!

    Like

     
    • Ste J

      15/08/2014 at 19:33

      It is a little paradoxical, it is not very often a book flummoxes me but this review is a first…I could never be a car saleman.

      Liked by 1 person

       
  5. Elizabeth Melton Parsons

    15/08/2014 at 21:24

    I love those kind of books. Mainly because for one of the reasons you stated, I can get through them in a hurry. But also just because I love a cozy little uncomplicated mystery. I call them my read in bed til I fall asleep books. Nothing better for erasing the cares of the day than a nice little frivolous book before falling asleep. Never saw these before, but I’m going to look for them. Thanks. 🙂

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    • Ste J

      16/08/2014 at 14:40

      That is true, I do like the easy going nature of it. They do make me feel like I am getting through books, even when I’m having an off week. They are pretty popular so should be easily available.

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  6. gargoylebruce

    15/08/2014 at 23:48

    I love these sorts of books, especially ones set in Britain. Although I agree with the bemusement regarding the high level of homicide in these sleepy little hamlets. I remember a number of years back a very successful show we had over here called Blue Heelers, which focused on the police in a small country town in Victoria. The series ran for a number of years, so it would seem like tiny little Mt Thomas was the crime capital of Australia. Who’d have thought?!

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    • Ste J

      16/08/2014 at 14:55

      I do wonder where my tax money is being spent in the literary world…these hotspots of crime really should spawn more epic storylines, yet nothing seems to change…really it should become a town of epic vice, gang wars and the like.

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    • writersideup

      16/08/2014 at 17:09

      Ah, Bruce, I didn’t know you resided “down under”! 😀

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      • gargoylebruce

        18/08/2014 at 23:19

        Yes, at the top of the shelf but the bottom of the world.

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  7. cricketmuse

    16/08/2014 at 02:33

    They sound curiously like the Rhys Bowen mystery series concerning Wales constable Evans. I’m game for another cozy mystery series.

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    • Ste J

      16/08/2014 at 14:26

      haven’t heard of those, it is something for me to maybe check out when I catch up with all these. My money is never my own since I started this blog hehe.

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      • cricketmuse

        16/08/2014 at 14:29

        As much as I love books I don’t buy them–no room. If the library doesn’t own it I request it and they’re pretty good about ordering.

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        • Ste J

          16/08/2014 at 14:32

          Our library is terrible, all later books in series and never the early ones…that and there is no room to hang around in the library due to all the homeless people who hang out there.

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          • cricketmuse

            16/08/2014 at 15:12

            Oh dear, that doesn’t sound appealing. I recently visited a library where it’s posted that patrons must register if staying longer than four hours. Subtle hint, I’d say.

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            • Ste J

              18/08/2014 at 16:25

              Good tactic, yeah I tend to hide in my own private library, nobody minds if I rustle papers loudly either.

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          • writersideup

            16/08/2014 at 17:07

            Here in Bergen County, we have an inter-connected system where you can order books available in any of the 70 libraries throughout the county and they are delivered to your local one to pick up. I was thinking that was becoming a common practice. I order online almost every day. Here’s ours: www .bccls. org

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            • Ste J

              18/08/2014 at 16:43

              That is a clever way to do things, I am sure we do some ordering as well…I am always a little too picky and want things there and then. It is a good excuse to reread books that I already own though.

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  8. Christina ~

    16/08/2014 at 04:35

    I do understand, you being a completest, wishing to finish. This was an intriguing review…definitely different from your normal. I do so very much love how you mix it up for us…covering all the various aspects of each genre…good and/or bad. You tackle the literary greats and the guilty pleasures as well. You are, most certainly. Mr. Diversity. I admit I’ve faced similar challenges (to continue or not despite annoyance with various aspects) with other books.

    I will be very interested to read this series if/when you finish it you deem it worth the time away from other novels of more literary decadence…such is my admiration of your thoughts on literary opinion!

    Like

     
    • Ste J

      16/08/2014 at 14:49

      Carrying on with a book is always a dilemma when one isn’t sure about it but with these books, they are so finely balanced between decent and bad that I do find myself picking them up still…it is beyond comprehension for me, as you know my strange ways. I keep bouncing around the genres like a rubber ball on a bouncy castle.

      I don’t see an ending for the series per se, I think it would be interesting to hear your views on them, I think some of your local bookshops will have them in…we shall add them to the list.

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  9. sakuraandme

    16/08/2014 at 12:40

    Aha hook line and sinker, that’s all I can say! Haha The things that draw us in and keep us wanting more, even if more is not really that great, right? Hope your having a great weekend. Hugs little brother. Paula xxxx

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    • Ste J

      16/08/2014 at 14:24

      I think it is partly to do with my completeness, it is the way I way I roll sometime. Although it is mildly annoying to have my set with three different covers though, as they keep changing them annoyingly.

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      • sakuraandme

        16/08/2014 at 14:39

        Hahaha! I hug you. You make me smile. Nite Nite. xx

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        • Ste J

          16/08/2014 at 14:41

          Good night, sleep well. Big hug backatcha! xx

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  10. thejerseygal®™

    18/08/2014 at 01:32

    Sounds like an addiction lol. I do not think I could commit to the series. I’d much rather read about the mind of a murderer than the guy walking the beat. Maybe because I’m related to a serial killer. Yes, that’s true.

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    • Ste J

      18/08/2014 at 16:22

      Blimey you kept that one quiet, anybody I may have heard of? There is something fascinating about the grisliness of murder, that section is always popular in the local bookshop. I’m fast coming to the end of the series, so the addiction will be managed to when I can pick up the newer ones second hand.

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      • thejerseygal®™

        18/08/2014 at 16:47

        Idk if you’d heard of him. He’s on death row, though. He’s my dad’s cousin.

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        • Ste J

          18/08/2014 at 16:53

          I don’t know many modern ones, even the news over here doesn’t cover that many of yours any more…I think the shock factor has gone, even high school shootings are down the news stories these days…a sad state of affairs indeed.

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          • writersideup

            18/08/2014 at 18:10

            it’s all scary and it’s all sad 😦 Ste J, where are you on the planet? Why did I think you were in NYC lol

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            • Ste J

              18/08/2014 at 18:28

              I’m actually from England, just north of Nottingham which is not half as exciting as it sounds lol.

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              • writersideup

                18/08/2014 at 18:29

                That’s only ’cause the legendary Robin Hood lived (maybe?) long ago 😉

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                • Ste J

                  18/08/2014 at 18:33

                  There is more to Nottingham than Rob you know…just don’t ask me for examples lol.

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          • thejerseygal®™

            18/08/2014 at 18:13

            I just tell everyone to sleep with one eye open when sleeping next to me! Lol

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  11. RoSy

    19/08/2014 at 00:25

    Oh – how tricky to have to start with one & suck you into reading them all. Evil…just evil…

    Like

     
    • Ste J

      19/08/2014 at 14:00

      I have already sent off my letter of complaint to the publishers.

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  12. LuAnn

    26/08/2014 at 14:19

    I will have to look at this series a bit more closely. I am always looking for an easy read when I am working my way through a tome. 🙂

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    • Ste J

      27/08/2014 at 13:08

      You’ll fly through these and the story arc of certain characters that runs through the series isn’t overly complex so you won’t have to worry about investing much in it apart from your time which is fair enough.

      Like

       

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