Book Review: Death of a Prankster by M.C. Beaton

So, I was going to be doing a review of a different Hamish Macbeth mystery, but I lost the book when I was halfway through, so I switched to this one. I’d like to find out whodunnit in the first one, but this was an entertaining substitute.

beaton prankster

We’re in traditional murder mystery territory here, a gaggle of potential killers gather in a large Scottish manor house, there because the master of the house, an elderly millionaire has told them he is near death. It turns out to be a joke, the latest in a long line of rather nasty practical jokes he has played on his friends and family.

Over the next few days he continues to torment them until he is found dead, a knife in his chest. Isolated by the snow, local bobby Hamish Macbeth is first on the scene and investigates, finding himself confronted by a plethora of suspects.

Is it the aggrieved brother, with the greedy wife? His step nephew, a mummy’s boy with rage issues? The frustrated daughters, tired of his tricks and having to keep him onside to ensure their allowances continue? Or the adopted son, believed to be the heir to his fortune and with an actress girlfriend who longs for the high life? Which one is the killer, and can Hamish solve the case despite the presence of bullying, bigoted Detective Blair?

I kinda like the Hamish Macbeth mysteries that I’ve read because they’re quite straight ahead, old fashioned murder stories. Hamish is a decent hero, a pretty simple bloke with a keen mind who is happy with his quiet life as a village copper, letting others take the credit. He’s a pretty laid back dude, which I like and not given to posturing like some other fictional detectives.

That’s not to say it isn’t without it’s flaws, the revelation of the killer’s motivation is a little rushed, and the way Hamish gets the culprit relies a little too much on coincidence.

These minor quibbles aside it’s an enjoyable enough read, and Beaton creates enough mystery to keep you guessing, and it’s quite brisk, easy read.

Verdict: 7/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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