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Death of a Laird
A Hamish Macbeth Short Story (Digital Original)
By M. C. Beaton
With R.W. Green
Formats and Prices
Format:ebook (Digital original) $1.99 $2.99 CAD
This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around February 15, 2022. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
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When Sergeant Hamish Macbeth is sent to investigate reports that the wealthy new laird of the remote Naglar House has disappeared, north-west Scotland is hit by the worst storm in living memory. The road is washed away, phone lines are down, mobile reception is dead and his police radio is out of order. He is trapped with the laird's high-class house guests. Then he discovers the laird's body.
Forced to remain overnight at the house, Hamish interviews each of the guests and pieces together an alarming picture of clandestine infidelity, vicious jealousy, deadly revenge, lust, greed and fear. It begins to look like all of the guests had good reason to want the laird dead, but which one of them actually did the deed?
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The Great Storm
The wintry west extends his blast,
And hail and rain does blaw;
Or, the stormy north sends driving forth
The blinding sleet and snaw:
While tumbling brown, the burn comes down,
And roars frae bank to brae;
And bird and beast in covert rest,
And pass the heartless day.
Robert Burns, “Winter: A Dirge”
It was the single worst thing that had happened all week, and the week had now tumbled into Friday morning. The situation was dire—he’d run out of coffee. Sergeant Hamish Macbeth knew he could function perfectly well without his morning coffee, but those he had to deal with generally liked it better if his mood was buoyed by a hearty breakfast and at least one mugful. A visit to the Patels’ supermarket was called for.
“Fancy a wee walk?” he said, looking over his breakfast table to the corner of the kitchen where his mongrel dog, Lugs, was curled up in a large, cosey basket with Sonsie, his pet wild cat. Lugs was on his feet in an instant, his strangely colored eyes wide and bright, his ears standing to attention and his plume of a tail waving manically. Sonsie looked towards the window, looked back at Hamish, raised an eyebrow in an expression that could only mean “You’ve got to be joking,” then returned to the snooze he had so rudely interrupted.
When Hamish opened the kitchen door and the whistling wind sent his wheelie bin racing past outside, Lugs’s ears and tail dropped like wet rags and he skulked back to the basket. “Aye, it’s blowing a hoolie out there, right enough,” Hamish admitted, listening to the screech of the wind and glancing over to where Lugs looked up at him with apologetic, guilty eyes. “Looks like it’s just me then,” he added, pulling on his police uniform sweater. He ran a hand through his shock of fiery red hair and reached for his cap, hanging on the back of the door, then suddenly visualised the wind snatching it from his head to send it sailing into the loch. He left it on the peg.
Strolling along the pavement at the lochside with the wind at his back, Hamish dodged the occasional fountain of spray breaking over the sea wall where the wind drove the rising tide against the rocks. Out on the loch, the gale chased dancing whitecaps across the waves and leaden grey clouds across the dark face of the mountains. The slopes of the twin peaks known as “The Two Sisters” on the far shore were like steel engravings, every crevice and gulley precisely etched in stark relief, a sure sign that rain was on its way. In the white cottages that lined the main road through Lochdubh, villagers had already removed their window boxes and hanging baskets of spring flowers to save them from the destructive wind and the battering rain that was expected. Mild May weather had already serenaded Lochdubh, but winter had one last howling anthem to sing.
He spotted fisherman Archie Maclean standing by the wall, smoking a cigarette and staring out over the water. The wind filled his voluminous woollen sweater like a sail and set the baggy legs of his corduroy trousers flapping like flags. He had once worn the most tight-fitting clothes Hamish had ever seen, all due to the fact that his wife used to boil the wash in a huge copper and shrink everything, even his jackets. When he came into a bit of money, Archie had bought her a high-tech washing machine and himself a whole new wardrobe.
“Morning, Archie,” Hamish called.
Archie took his cigarette out of his mouth to reply, and the wind whipped it out of his fingers, sending it streaking through the air into the loch.
“It’s a sign,” said Hamish with a grin. “Time to give up.”
“Aye, you might be right.” Archie sighed. “Mind you take care if you’re out on the road today, Hamish,” he added. “There’s a belter o’ a storm coming in.”
“You’re no’ wrong there,” Hamish agreed, looking up at the racing clouds. “I’ll keep my wits about me, but it looks like this week’s going to end badly.’
He reached the supermarket door just as the formidable Currie twins, Nessie and Jessie, were leaving. Beneath their identical, tightly knotted headscarves, they had identical, tightly permed grey hair, identical glasses, and identical beige raincoats, buttoned up to the neck. Each trailed a wheeled shopping basket, one of green tartan and one of red. Hamish could scarcely believe the bulging carts were not the same pattern.
“Good morning, ladies,” he greeted them. The two small women stopped, craning their necks to look up at the lanky policeman.
“You should be out patrolling the roads,” said Nessie, with an indignant nod. “This storm will cause absolute mayhem.’
“Absolute mayhem!” Jessie agreed, exercising her lifelong habit of repeating the last of whatever her sister said.
“Aye, I’ll have a busy day ahead, no doubt—fallen trees, floods and suchlike,” Hamish agreed. “Been stocking up, have we?” He looked down at their laden carts.
“We’ll not be caught out if there’s nothing to be had in the shop,” Nessie said sagely. “We are always prepared.”
“Always prepared!” echoed Jessie, and the twins set off towards their cottage, heads bowed into the wind and sensible brown shoes marching in unison.
“What can I do for you, Hamish?” asked Mrs. Patel from behind the counter.
“Just a jar of coffee, please,” said Hamish. “Is Mr. Patel no’ around this morning?’
“He’s gone off to the cash-and-carry in Strathbane to pick up more stock. The locals have been buying everything up like there’s no tomorrow.”
“Aye, well, you know how it gets round here when there’s a big storm coming in. Some will no’ leave their houses for days but they’ll have enough in their larders to last a month of Sundays.”
- "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
- "Satisfying for both established and new Macbeth fans."—Booklist on Death of an Honest Man
- On Sale
- Feb 15, 2022
- Page Count
- 32 pages
- Grand Central Publishing