Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Death of a Cad

By M. C. Beaton

Captain Peter Barlett is a cad. He steals, he cheats, he chases women, he boozes, he lies. He is an all-around bad fellow. So how does he end up being invited to an exclusive week in the Scottish countryside at a select party for an up-and-coming new London playwright? Basically it's because, when he wants to, he can really turn on the charm. But at this gathering, he seems to be on his worst behavior, and therefore it is no surprise when he is discovered dead in the morning.
At first, it seems as if he has shot himself accidentally while out hunting. But local policeman Hamish MacBeth soon discovers that the scene was staged to look like an accident when it is actually murder. Now Hamish has to discover which of the guests at the party is the killer when it becomes apparent that pretty much everyone had reason to hate Peter Bartlett.

What a poisonous lot the people at this country gathering are, starting with the overbearing hosts of the party and including not only their guests but their hot-then-cold daughter Priscilla who is engaged to the guest of honor but is sneaking around with local policeman, Hamish MacBeth. In fact, the only likable person in the whole story is Hamish. It is hard to imagine why anyone would want to spend even an evening with these pills, much less a whole week or weekend, which ever it was. In fact, if it wasn't for Hamish, the whole story would be a wash, but Hamish not only saves the day, he saves the story. Without him, it would not be worth reading. So, thanks to Hamish, this is a good read.

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