James Harrison has recently moved to a restored hunting lodge in Sutherland with his gorgeous private nurse Gloria Dainty. When Hamish visits Mr. Harrison to welcome him to the neighborhood, the old man treats him very rudely. Gloria apologizes for her employer's behavior, and Hamish takes the plunge and invites her out for dinner.
On the appointed evening, Hamish waits for Gloria at the restaurant. And waits. Gloria never shows up. Four days later, Gloria's body washes up on the beach near Braikie. Now without a date and without his former policeman Dick Fraser (who left the force to buy a bakery), Hamish must find out who killed the beautiful new resident of Sutherland, and why, before the murderer strikes again....
In bestseller Beaton's by-the-numbers 32nd Hamish Macbeth mystery (after 2015's Death of a Liar), the Lochdubh, Scotland, police sergeant meets Gloria Dainty, a beautiful private nurse, and arranges a date with her. Hamish doesn't understand why Gloria doesn't show, until he stumbles on her body at the bottom of a cliff. Det. Jimmy Anderson answers Hamish's call to the crime scene, followed almost immediately by brusque Insp. Fiona Herring, who takes charge. Hamish conducts his own investigation parallel to the official one, which focuses on elderly Percy Harrison, Gloria's patient, and Percy's housekeepers, Juris and Inga Janson. Complications run from the expected (Detective Chief Inspector Blair seeks to embarrass Hamish) to the unexpected (Col. George Halburton-Smythe tries to play detective). Hamish nimbly avoids bureaucratic pitfalls and shrewdly sniffs out deceptions as one murder leads to another, but this entry lacks the author's usual sparkle. Series fans will hope for its return in Hamish's next outing.