cover image Death of an Outsider

Death of an Outsider

M. C. Beaton. St. Martin's Press, $14.95 (182pp) ISBN 978-0-312-02188-7

The endearing Constable Hamish Macbeth (of Death of a Gossip and Death of a Cad ) is sent to the Scottish Highlands town of Cnothan, a place of ``dark hates and enmities'' whose inhabitants cordially loathe outsiders. Cnothan hospitality is mingy even toward the incoming constable, who finds his cupboard bare and his furnace set on a short timer. In view of the town's bad manners, few people display surprise when Mainwaring, an annoyingly brusque Englishman who settled eight years ago on his late aunt's estate, is reported murdered. There are plenty of suspects, among them the dead man's browbeaten widow, forced to wear mail-order-catalogue dresses. Suspicion falls on Sandy Carmichael, the drunken watchman for the nearby Fish and Game Company. And what of the two town ``lookers,'' glamorous Helen Ross or Jenny Lovelace, a young painter, possibly former mistresses wreaking revenge? Matters grow complicated when Hamish and Jenny become lovers. The characterization is wryly humorous, while a horde of ravenous lobsters give the plot a wildly ghoulish twist. Jaundiced views on love and marriage abound, and the visiting constable finds himself doubling as the local psychiatrist among this amusing cast of eccentrics. (Dec.)