Book Review: Death of a Dentist (1997)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 1997 Hamish Macbeth murder mystery by M. C. Beaton.

Synopsis: Dr. Frederick Gilchrist has a reputation of being a very poor dentist with a habit of pulling teeth rather than trying to fix them. But, when Hamish Macbeth wakes up with a massive toothache, he decides to risk it. However, instead of getting his tooth examined, he stumbles upon the murdered Dr. Gilchrist and must solve yet another homicide.


After being forced to take a short break from Hamish Macbeth, I was happy to see our local library once again had them on the shelf the last time I was there. While I was tempted to check out more than one, I decided to just get the next book in the series, which happened to be this one. And, as it turns out, it was an entertaining mystery.

Death of a Dentist
Death of a Dentist

I think the thing I really liked about this book was the way it managed to throw in two mysteries. The first was the murder of Dr. Gilchrist, who, while somewhat popular because he was affordable, also seemed to have quite a few enemies, especially since he was surprisingly successful with the ladies. This gave Macbeth a long list of potential suspects to sort through.

The second mystery, involving the theft of $250,000 from a hotel safe was equally as intriguing, mostly because it was unclear how that fit in with the overall story. It could have been related to Dr. Gilchrist's death. Or, it could be something completely unrelated and, ultimately, it wound up adding something extra to the story.

I also found I liked the part about him breaking up an illegal moonshine business and nearly losing his life in the process. Ultimately, it had very little to do with the other two mysteries. But, it was a nice change of pace story that showed some of the things that could put Macbeth's life at risk just with his normal, everyday job as constable.

One thing I wasn't a big fan of was Macbeth's new love interest, Sarah. This is mostly because it was obvious, from the start, she was hiding something from him and, because of that, it wasn't too difficult to figure out things ultimately wouldn't work out between them. As a result, other than her conveniently being able to hack into a police computer for information, she just seemed a bit like a waste.

I am, however, somewhat intrigued with Macbeth's developing friendship Angela Brodie and am curious how that will play out in future books. On one hand, she's married to one of his best friends and I just can't see Macbeth crossing a line with that. However, even if there isn't ultimately a romantic link between the two of them, he does live in a village that likes to spread rumors about him. So, I could see that potentially being trouble for him in the future. Of course, I also could be completely wrong and it doesn't become anything more than her acting more like a sister toward him.

Death of a Dentist (Hamish Macbeth Mysteries, No. 13)

From the author of the Agatha Raisin television series...DEATH OF A DENTIST: A Hamish Macbeth MysteryA blinding toothache sends Hamish Macbeth 120 miles out of Lochdubh to the d...

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Final Opinion

This was an entertaining book that had a lot going on and a halfway decent murder mystery. I enjoyed reading it and would recommend it.

My Grade: B

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Updated: 05/13/2019, StevenHelmer
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DerdriuMarriner on 02/10/2022

StevenHelmer, Thank you for practical information, pretty pictures and product lines.
Does this episode in the Hamish Macbeth series indicate how everyone will survive without a local dentist?

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