Death of a Chimney Sweep

March 13, 2012 - Death of a Chimney Sweep (M.C. Beaton). The local chimney sweep is just one of several murder victims in this entry in the series set in the Scottish Highlands and featuring police Sergeant Hamish Macbeth.

The title here is a bit misleading. Sure, the chimney sweep gets murdered, but it happens in the first few pages, and as the book progresses, the poor man is hardly mentioned again. A better title might have been Death of a Swindler, as his murder is really the one that sets the plot in motion.

The swindler in question is a retired Army captain named Henry Davenport. He and his meek wife, Milly, recently moved from England to the village of Drim. Davenport's body is found stuffed into the chimney of his home. Suspicion falls on the wee chimney sweep, but when he, too, is found dead, Hamish begins to suspect that the sweep may have just been in the wrong place at the wrong time and that the real killer is still out there. His suspicions are confirmed as, over the course of a year or so, people connected to the case either turn up dead or disappear in various parts of Scotland and around the world.

I read this book in less than a week. I had some time and the book is not very long. There's also enough going on to keep you interested, at least until near the end. My main complaint would be that I think there was too much going on, and despite the book's average length, it took too long to sort it all out. By the final 30 pages, I was ready for it to all be over.