It's springtime in the Highlands but storms are brewing for Hamish Macbeth. His life is going to pot. He has - horrors! - been promoted, his new boss is a dunce, and a sinister self-proclaimed gypsy and his girlfriend have parked their rusty eyesore of a van in the middle of the village.
Hamish smells trouble and as usual he's right. The doctor's drugs have gone missing. Money vanishes. And neighbours suddenly become unneighbourly. Nobody wants to talk either, so canny Hamish faces the delicate task of worming the facts out of the villagers.
In the process he uncovers a story so bizarre that neither he nor the locals may ever be able to forget it...
In this excellent, eighth Hamish Macbeth mystery, the slightly lethargic, tousle-haired village copper in the Scottish Highlands has been promoted against his will. As Sergeant, he makes more money, but must suffer more work as well, not to mention the enthusiasm of his new helper, Police Constable Willie Lamont. Hamish rescues a young boy from the river and saves some stranded mountain climbers; he listens to a minister confess wavering faith, is plagued by a superior who resents his promotion and has repeated run-ins with a drifter who parks his van behind the minister's manse. The ``devastatingly handsome'' drifter charms four women out of their money and harasses Hamish's ladylove, Priscilla. When the bounder's body is found after a fatal bludgeoning, Hamish seeks out the young man's rock-singer girlfriend and unhappily discovers a blackmailing scheme that incriminates some locals. Beaton ( Death of a Glutton ) pens a cast of winning characters, even the pesky, malaprop Willie (whose aunt lives ``in a condom in San Francisco''). But the star, as always, is the slow-moving, quick-witted Hamish.