Friday, April 21, 2017

Review: Death of a Ghost by M.C. Beaton

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pub. Date. February 21st, 2017
Pages: 256


Sergeant Hamish Macbeth--Scotland's most quick-witted but unambitious policeman--returns in M.C. Beaton's new mystery in her New York Timesbestselling series

When Police Sergeant Hamish Macbeth hears reports of a haunted castle near Drim, he assumes the eerie noises and lights reported by the villagers are just local teenagers going there to smoke pot or, worse, inject themselves with drugs. Still, Hamish decides that he and his policeman, Charlie "Clumsy" Carson, will spend the night at the ruined castle to get to the bottom of the rumors once and for all.

There's no sign of any ghost...but then Charlie disappears through the floor. It turns out he's fallen into the cellar. And what Hamish and Charlie find there is worse than a ghost: a dead body propped against the wall. Waiting for help to arrive, Hamish and Charlie leave the castle just for a moment--to eat bacon baps--but when they return, the body is nowhere to be seen.

It's clear something strange--and deadly--is going on at the castle, and Hamish must get to the bottom of it before the "ghost" can strike again...

What Did I Think About the Story?

This is a really hard review for me to write because I have very mixed feelings about the overall story. First off, maybe it's just me but I didn't realize until I received the book and started reading it that this was part of a long standing series. Long standing to the tune of 32 books. Yes, that's right, this is the 32nd book in the Hamish Macbeth series! Needless to say, there is no way for a reader jumping into this series at book 32 to be able to know all the backstories and various connections between the characters. This doesn't mean that the story wasn't enjoyable, I just found most of the personal interactions between the characters somewhat confusing and skimmed over most of that to concentrate on the actual mystery at the heart of it.

Now, I can't help but admit that I was pretty disappointed that there wasn't more "ghost" to this story. From the title and description I assumed there would be at least some paranormal and eerie goings-on, but this aspect ended up serving as nothing more than a starting point to a multi-murder investigation that had our main characters traipsing all over the highlands in all types of weather, sampling copious amounts of food everywhere they went (I'm not was discussed more in this book then just about any I can think of save an actual cookbook or culinary-themed mystery). Hamish did have some "highland senses" that gave him pretty reliable gut feelings and intuitiveness, but other than that this was a pretty standard police procedural, even if a somewhat comical one. I can say that I didn't initially see the true identity of the killer early on, but that might have more to do with the fact that vital information was not revealed to the reader until later on in the book than the story being intricately twisty.

What I did really enjoy about the story was the eccentric and colorful characters. Each of them was very unique and I especially enjoyed Hamish and Charlie, our two main characters. Charlie was so endearing and patient - falling all over himself and breaking lots of things in the process - while Hamish was more moody and prone to yell at the local gaggle of women trying to set him up with a good woman to set his life right. From the characterizations it's clear why this is such a long standing book series.    

Death of a Ghost was a quick and entertaining read. I really think those that have already been reading the series will enjoy it as a continuation of the story while those that haven't, like myself, might find themselves feeling somewhat left out of the loop. If you like more cozy mysteries than I would still recommend giving it a try as the characters are quite enjoyable, maybe just start from the beginning of the series and work your way up to this one. 


What Did I Think About the Cover?

I think it's pretty but, for the life of  me, I can't figure out what it really has to do with the story. Yes, this might be the castle where the "ghost" is initially suspected to be, however hardly any time is actually spent at that castle. And I'm not positive who the woman is supposed to be either. A somewhat odd and unrepresentative choice to me for a cover. 

My Rating: 3.0/5.0 

Thank you to Tiffany at Hachette Book Group for providing me with a free copy of Death of a Ghost in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Please continue below for more information about the book and it's author. 

Praise for Death of a Ghost

"Longing for escape? Tired of waiting for Brigadoon to materialize? Time for a trip to Lochdubh, the scenic, if somnolent, village in the Scottish Highlands where M. C. Beaton sets her beguiling whodunits featuring Constable Hamish Macbeth.” —New York Times Book Review

"Hamish Macbeth is that most unusual character, one to whom the reader returns because of his charming flaws. May he never get promoted.” —New York Journal of Books

"With residents and a constable so authentic, it won't be long before tourists will be seeking Lochdubh and believing in the reality of Hamish Macbeth as surely as they believed in Sherlock Holmes.” — Denver Rocky Mountain News

"Macbeth is the sort of character who slyly grows on you.” —Chicago Sun-Times 

 Buy the Book


About the Author

M. C. Beaton has won international acclaim for her New York Times bestselling Hamish Macbeth mysteries. The BBC has aired 24 episodes based on the series. Beaton is also the author of the
bestselling Agatha Raisin series, which is now a television show starring Ashley Jensen, available on Acorn and coming soon to PBS. She lives in the Cotswolds with her husband.

Find out more about M.C. on her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.


  1. I was disappointed too, the main character was not up to his usual level. All the other Hamish MacBeth books that I have read are much better. But still glad that I read it.

    1. Hi Carol! It's good to know that the earlier books in the series are better! I'm not sure I'm up to starting one so long though, lol!