[Read by Sean Grindell]
Hollywood in the Highlands -- With the lovely Priscilla Halburton-Smythe away in London, Lochdubh constable Hamish Macbeth pines for company during the long Scottish winter. He gets his wish--and more--when a troupe of flashy, urbane filmmakers clambers into the nearby town of Drim. Before long bedlam erupts around their make-believe mystery . . . and culminates in the sudden appearance of one very real corpse. -- The initial suspect in the killing is one Patricia Martyn-Broyd, the aging mystery writer furious that her musty old cozies are getting a risqué face-lift for their television reincarnation. Yet, going behind the scenes, Hamish soon finds a town full of locals bitten by the movie bug and a cast of quarreling show-business types, all harboring their own secrets, lies, and hidden agendas. And as the culprit strikes again, Hamish must quickly find the right killer -- or script the wrong finale to a show gone murderously awry.
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M.C. Beaton's 14th adventure featuring Hamish Macbeth, lovable local bobby of Lochdubh, Scotland, is a similar treat to her previous efforts. Macbeth feels a dismal foreboding when television film crews descend into his neighborhood to film a local author's out-of-print mysteries. Not only are they led by an overbearing and egotistical scriptwriter, but they have completely stood the original manuscript on its head. The producers have determined that a sexy, pot-smoking heroine will bring in more viewers than the genteel and circumspect detective true to the original. The author herself and the local Calvinist minister are not amused. Before too long, the scriptwriter, the shapely actress playing the lead, and her jealous husband all end up dead, confirming Macbeth's suspicions that the gloomy village of Drim and glamorous media types were a dangerously combustible mix.
The mystery itself seems straightforward enough, but Beaton has provided more than the usual number of suspects and subplots. All of these spike the reader's interest while her wicked characterizations of both the locals and the inhabitants of TV-land are hilarious, and very occasionally thought-provoking. The real strength of the book, and indeed Beaton's work in general, is the way in which she evokes the genuine isolation of Macbeth's rural Highlands and blends it with breezy renderings of murder, mayhem, and cozy cups of tea. In some ways it's a bit of an incongruous mix, but Beaton successfully keeps the tone on the lighter side. Death of a Scriptwriter will certainly intrigue mystery fans as well as those who have wondered about the creations of the PBS/BBC series Mystery! --K.A. CrouchFrom the Back Cover:
Patricia Martyn-Broyd was not an easy woman to like. The hawk-nosed spinster had retired to Scotland, unable to write another book since her 1965 mystery featuring the aristocratic Scottish detective Lady Harriet Vere. Local constable Hamish Macbeth thought Patricia must be lonely beneath her rigid pride. A bit lonely himself since the breakup of his engagement, he extended his friendship. But that was before fame and the movie people arrived... A British TV company had decided to feature Lady Harriet in a new series. The constable knew there would be trouble between the middle-aged, dour townsfolk and the flashy, urbane filmmakers. And there was - murder. When one of the scriptwriters for the series is found dead, the tension escalates on the set and in the streets of Drim. And as Hamish pokes into the town's secrets and the TV people's hidden agendas, he finds a large cast of people who wanted to cut out the writer for good - from the boozehound husband jealous of his actress wife's flagrant flirting to the tough, ambitious producer who was threatened with dismissal.
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