Read by Antony Ferguson
Published 1985 by St. Martin's Press
Source: audiobook checked out from my local library
Publisher's Summary:When society widow and gossip columnist Lady Jane Winters joined the fishing class, she wasted no time in ruffling the feathers—or was it the fins?—of those around her. Among the victims of her sharp tongue and unladylike manner was Lochdubh Constable Hamish Macbeth. Yet not even Hamish thought someone would permanently silence Lady Jane's shrills—until her strangled body is fished out of the river.
Now with the help of the lovely Priscilla Halburton-Smythe, Hamish must angle through the choppy waters of the tattler's life to find the murderer. But with a school of suspects who aren't ready to talk and dead women telling no tales, Hamish may be in over his head, for he knows that secrets are dangerous, knowledge is power, and killers usually do strike again.
It's a well known fact here that I adore Hamish Macbeth and that I've read several of the books in the series. I've kind of bounced around in the series; when I was listening to books on CDs, I listened to whichever one was for sale at my library's book sale. When I was recently looking for an available audiobook that would be a quick read, I found that I could start at the beginning.
It was fun to get the first introduction to Hamish, his beloved but not available Priscilla, Chief Inspector Blair, and the denizens of Lochdubh. This first book sets up Hamish's past but focuses more on the mystery of the book than the characters of the village, as so many of the later books do which I missed. I also had to remind myself that this book was published 36 years ago - there were places where I questioned the appropriateness. And, to be honest, it wasn't the best written book. The summary indicates that there was some concern that there might be another murder but I never felt like that was an issue - this was a very simple who-done-it and readers are never given the clues that will help them solve the mystery. Beaton also focuses a great deal on the details of each character's physical appearance. While I'm all for getting a good picture of the characters, it felt like too much detail in a book of this nature and, to be honest, the descriptions often felt a bit like those a student might write.
Still, it was a nice to return to Lochdubh and to begin at the beginning, to see how the relationships between the recurring characters began, and to get a good background on Hamish and why he is the way he is. I'm looking forward to moving on chronologically in the series as time and availability permits. These books are always a nice break from my heavier reading.