Death of a Spy (A Hamish Macbeth Mystery)

Image of Death of a Spy (A Hamish Macbeth Mystery, 36)
Release Date: 
February 13, 2024
Grand Central Publishing
Reviewed by: 

Poor Hamish MacBeth. In Death of a Spy (Grand Central), the 39th Hamish MacBeth murder mystery, his neighbors still view him as an outsider in his patch in the Scottish Highlands, Lochdubh. His community considers him a lazy copper, and he craves being left alone to do his job and get in some fishing. Yet when his village is in trouble, the residents rely upon him and hound him relentlessly. There is no escape for Hamish since he lives at the police station with his dog, Lugs, and his cat, Sonsie.

In Death of a Spy, the tall, red-haired sergeant becomes entrapped in international intrigue when the American man of mystery James Bland reappears in Lochdubh. In the last mystery, Death of a Traitor, Bland appeared as a tourist, and had left Hamish wondering about Bland’s true identity. Now, Hamish is shocked to discover that Bland is posing as a police sergeant. With a letter from the Home Office in hand, he is claiming he is on an exchange program to learn about policing methods in Scotland. Hamish’s superiors have bought the ruse, but the story is a cover, leaving Hamish to wonder about Bland’s motive and the need for Hamish’s assistance.

Bland reveals that a decades-old coded list of payments and names, including those of Hamish’s superiors, has been deciphered. It contains a list of spies called “The Despicable Dozen.” He enlists Hamish to hunt down the surviving members of the Russian spy ring hiding out in the highlands. In his heart, Hamish believes his job is to keep the peace in his community, not play cloak-and-dagger with the evasive American. Against his better judgment, Hamish agrees to assist Sergeant Bland despite the secrecy surrounding Bland’s sudden interest in the ancient crimes.

As they are about to begin their search, a sudden rainstorm washes out the bridge into Lochdubh. The residents are left stranded, and they demand that Hamish get the bridge repaired. Hamish calls in the troops and gets the job accomplished, but not without placing his life in danger. Fortunately, Bland is on hand to help save the day.

Seeking out the remaining members of the “Dozen” proves to be a tricky and deadly task. Hamish and Bland encounter mobsters, mysterious suicides, and uncooperative witnesses as they crisscross the remote villages and lochs to track down their prey. All the while, Hamish is trapped between protecting his locals against a sudden rash of violent nocturnal burglaries, and doing his duty to his country.

A tale of international intrigue mixed with local Scottish flavor, Death of a Spy is a fast-paced read, and will thrill all Hamish fans. Once again, Rod Green, writing as M.C. Beaton, creates a masterful and fun spy tale, which incorporates all of Beaton’s beloved Scottish characters. Hamish’s former fiancées Priscilla and Elspeth have returned to terrorize him and create tension with his new girlfriend Claire, the paramedic. Mates Freddy and Silas also play an integral part in helping to identify “the boss” of the spy ring. Naturally, the culprit is the last person any reader or Hamish would suspect.

The Hamish MacBeth mysteries are like peanuts. When you read one, you cannot stop. After finishing Death of a Spy, readers will itch for the next Hamish MacBeth installment. Maybe next time, he will finally get the girl and the peace and quiet he desires.