cover image Death of a Prankster

Death of a Prankster

M. C. Beaton. St. Martin's Press, $16.95 (151pp) ISBN 978-0-312-07701-3

Scottish constable Hamish Macbeth, following Death of a Gossip in his seventh case, once again nails a murderer despite the crude bullying and dim detecting of his nemesis and superior, Chief Detective Inspector Blair. Wealthy local Andrew Trent, notorious for practical jokes that have far exceeded short-sheeted beds and whoopee cushions, has summoned his would-be heirs to his northern mansion with the false announcement that he has only a short time left to live. Braving the Highlands winter are his adopted son and his TV-star fiancee, two spinster daughters, his brother (with his brittle wife) and his scientist stepson (with his punk, pink-haired girlfriend and colleague). After Andrew is murdered in a prank that backfires, Macbeth wends his way through a tangle of family squabbles and secrets. Another murder and an attempt on a third victim follow in this readable tale that doesn't, however, bear close scrutiny. Illogic abounds and the final confession is precipitated by a wild coincidence. (June)