Sunday, April 24, 2011

Death of a Chimney Sweep

Death of a Chimney Sweep by M. C. Beaton
Grand Central Publishing, February 2011
Hardcover, 247 pages
Hamish Macbeth Series #27
ISBN-13: 9780446547390
highly recommended

In the south of Scotland, residents get their chimneys vacuum-cleaned. But in the isolated villages in the very north of Scotland, the villagers rely on the services of the itinerant sweep, Pete Ray, and his old-fashioned brushes. Pete is always able to find work in the Scottish highlands, until one day when Police Constable Hamish Macbeth notices blood dripping onto the floor of a villager's fireplace, and a dead body stuffed inside the chimney. The entire town of Lochdubh is certain Pete is the culprit, but Hamish doesn't believe that the affable chimney sweep is capable of committing murder. Then Pete's body is found on the Scottish moors, and the mystery deepens. Once again, it's up to Hamish to discover who's responsible for the dirty deed—and this time, the murderer may be closer than he realizes.

My Thoughts:

Death of a Chimney Sweep by M. C. Beaton is the twenty-seventh cozy mystery featuring Police Constable Hamish Macbeth. In Death of a Chimney Sweep, Captain Henry Davenport and his wife, Milly, have recently moved to the village of Drim. Davenport orders Milly to get the chimney cleaned and then goes for a walk. He and the chimney sweep end up dead. While it appears the chimney sweep is the culprit, Hamish Macbeth realizes that a more sinister killer is on the loose.

This delightful cozy set in Scotland is a simple police procedural and a quick read. While there are several murders, they are all carried out precipitously, and, along with some humor, Beaton includes enough plot twists and turns to keep any mystery fan interested. Obviously Death of a Chimney Sweep will greatly appeal to cozy mystery fans, especially those following the series.

Actually, this was my first Hamish Macbeth book. Even though I don't have a long history with the series and the characters, it was quite easy to read and characters were very accessible. No, the writing is not demanding and simple sentences abound, but Death of a Chimney Sweep follows the tried and true format of a cozy. Cozy mysteries are: always easy to read; set in a village or small town; the murders are quick and not detailed; there is no gritty language; and there is always an element of humor. In this case, Beaton's short, simple sentences and quick pace made this the perfect book to read at the end of a busy week.
Highly Recommended for fans of cozy mysteries

Disclosure: Death of a Chimney Sweep was sent to me by the publisher from a giveaway.


The Village of Drim in the county of Sutherland at the northwest of Scotland was rarely visited by outsiders. Not even the most romantic member of the tartan lunatic fringe of the lowland cities could claim it to be a place of either interest or beauty. opening

The nearest policeman, Police Sergeant Hamish Macbeth, was some miles away across mountain and moorland in the village of Lochdubh, and although Drim was on his beat, he rarely had any reason to visit the place. pg. 2

He sat back on his heels. "I'm afraid there's a body stuck in the chimney."

"Oh, that poor sweep!" gasped Milly. pg. 6

Hamish ignored that remark and went on: "So say this person meets him and they walk back to the house. This person quarrels with Davenport and bashes his head in wi' a tyre iron, and then like a bad elf, down the chimney, out pops Pete. It's one of the old-fashioned chimneys with climbing rungs inside from the days when the sweep sent a boy up. Pete could get up there himself. He was all skin and bone. The murderer kills him, takes a few objects to make it look as if Pete was a robber as well, gets him in he sidecar, and goes off over the moors to fake the whole thing. Returns to the house and searches for something he wants, can't find it, and in a rage he stuffs the captain up the chimney, the captain himself being pretty skinny, hoping it'll be some time before the body is found."

"Oh, come on, Hamish. Let it go."

"No! I bet forensics never examined the sidecar properly. I want to see it." pg. 9-10

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