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Death of a Gossip by M.C. Beaton

Death of a Gossip by M.C. Beaton, the first in the very long and popular Hamish Macbeth series, is set in the Scottish Highlands. It opens as a fishing school come together one summer, replete with divergent personalities and intentions. Clashes are inevitable, especially when one of the class, gossip columnist, Lady Jane stirs the pot by dropping hints as to various participants less than salubrious pasts. When she is found dead in a loch, suspicion falls on all the members of the fishing school and it’s up to the local plod, Constable Hamish Macbeth, to uncover the culprit.

This was a quaint book that I at first enjoyed very much in terms of character and setting, but then became frustrated with the reliance on cliché and stereotypes for character development. Cultural stereotypes particularly prevailed, with the English being snobs who looked down upon their Scottish neighbours and the Americans in the novel portrayed as mostly loud and painful. Body types likewise, also suffered from negative pigeonholing with unpleasant people being mostly overweight!!! Class is also played to type (mostly) and even Hamish, as a policeman in a quiet village, is viewed by his city counterparts as slow and incapable – which he is neither. So I found that tiresome and galling in the end.

Still, it was interesting to read book that started it all. I am still in two minds whether I’ll continue with any more…

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