Death of a Valentine

January 14, 2011 - Death of a Valentine (M.C. Beaton). Man problems get a pretty young girl murdered, while women problems put police sergeant Hamish Macbeth on the verge of marriage.

The book opens with all of Lochdubh assembled for the wedding of Hamish Macbeth to his police constable, Josie McSween. But, before the wedding can happen, the author shifts the scene back in time and tells the story of how we got here. It began several months previous, when the recently-promoted Hamish was assigned Josie as his new constable. Then, on Valentine's Day, an exploding package kills the village beauty queen. While Hamish works to solve the case, Josie drinks a lot and plots to trap Hamish into marriage.

The murder mystery itself isn't very satisfying. The victim dies before we ever really get a feel for her, and there are enough suspects that it's impossible to really get a feel for them, either. The story is almost like reading an article in the local newspaper about a real murder in a town far away. It's mildly interesting but, since you didn't really know the people involved, you don't really care.

Slightly more interesting is Josie's constant conniving where Hamish is concerned. Will she be the one to finally get Hamish down the aisle? Can former girlfriend Elspeth stop him from making a terrible mistake? This mystery takes up more of the book, I think, than the actual whodunit.

But, the story of Hamish's love life has been going on for so many books now, that it's starting to get wearisome. So, combine a weak murder mystery with a tired storyline and you have a book that's not very good. I'm not ready to quit the series, but I will if things don't improve in the next book or two.