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.Death of a Chimney Sweep is actually the 27th book in the Hamish MacBeth series, and I'm sure by this time, Hamish has come across all manner of dark deeds and scheming criminals in his adventures. But, what I like in these books is that Ms. Beaton can continue to find interesting ways to blend old world elements (a chimney sweep, in this book) with the modern world.
The drawing factor for me has always been the Scottish ideals and lifestyle that are woven
into these books. The author has managed, over the years, though, to blend into the remote setting of Lochdubh elements of the outside world which seems to be Hamish's biggest concern in life: how to live a quiet life without the hassle of outsiders.
The recurring issues that face the protagonist in all prior books, are again evident in Death of a Chimney Sweep, and left me just a bit (more) weary of Blair, Hamish's superior on the police force. I long for the day when this man has retired; to me he is an unnecessary character that would have been fired from any real policing job years before. And, again, poor Hamish is left without someone to share his life, in most part due to miscommunication and stupidity.
These irksome parts aside, I think the rallying of the townspeople of Lochdubh to protect their constable and attempt to maintain peace in their small village is something that we all miss living in big cities. Then again, the rumours that abound in small towns is blissfully missing, also. Ms. Beaton gives us both sides in this book, in equal measure.
I very much enjoy the 'homey' feeling and quaint humour that surround Hamish MacBeth's tales. Sometimes, they can seem a little far-fetched, but never fail to give me a chuckle and a sense of satisfaction at their conclusion.