Book Review: Death of a Gossip (1985)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the mystery novel written by M. C. Beaton and published in 1985.

Synopsis: John and Heather Cartwright run a popular salmon fishing school in Scotland. Their current class, however, isn't having nearly as much fun because of the horrible Lady Jane Withers, an infamous gossip columnist that quickly gets on everyone's nerves.
As a result, when Lady Jane is found murdered, everyone in the fishing school's class is a suspect. Chief Inspector Blair is brought in to investigate. However, the local constable, Hamish Macbeth, is determined to find the killer first.


I decided to take a short break from reading Agatha Christie novels but was still in the mood for another mystery novel. So, I ended up going to the local library and picked out this book at random.

I didn't know much about this book or the author but, based on the description, I thought it looked halfway decent. After finishing it yesterday, however, I have to say I wasn't as impressed with it as I thought it would be.

Death of a Gossip
Death of a Gossip
Photo by Steven Helmer

I'll start out by saying I did like Hamish Macbeth. He was a notorious mooch, a poacher and kind of lazy, making him the last person anyone would expect to solve a murder. And, even as he was investigating, his methods seemed half-hazard at best.

My biggest problem with this book is the mystery really didn't do him any justice. There was potential, largely because everyone in that fishing school had a motive for murder. But, the book didn't give many clues (he solved the mystery by making phone calls to friends) and ultimately gives away who the murderer is before Macbeth has a chance to make his big reveal.

The supporting characters also seemed to lack depth. They were either really snobbish or, in the case of Alice, very naive (to the point I immediately stopped suspecting her because she wasn't smart enough to pull it off). The weak murder mystery would have been greatly improved by adding a little more to each of the potential suspects.

I also wasn't a big fan of the long chapters. Beaton choose to break the book apart by having one chapter per day. This made some of them seem to drag on to a point I found myself struggling to stay interested. I don't know if it would have helped much, but having shorter chapters would have made it more readable.

Death of a Gossip (A Hamish Macbeth Mystery)

From the author of the Agatha Raisin television series...DEATH OF A GOSSIP: A Hamish Macbeth MysteryWhen society widow and gossip columnist Lady Jane Winters joined the fishing ...

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Final Opinion

The book had some potential, especially with Hamish Macbeth, but I just didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would. 

My Grade: C

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Updated: 03/04/2018, StevenHelmer
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