Book Review: Death of an Addict (2001)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 2001 British murder mystery by M. C. Beaton.

Synopsis: When former drug addict Tommy Jarret is found dead of an apparent overdose, Constable Hamish Macbeth suspects something isn't quite right. However, his superiors believe Tommy is just another dead addict, forcing him to once again use personal time to investigate. This time, however, he eventually finds himself assigned to work undercover to break up a drug smuggling ring, something that will force him to travel abroad for the first time in his life.


I checked out this book a couple weeks ago but, because of an unexpected interruption, wasn't able to finish reading it until last night. After doing so, I found I had some mixed feelings about this fifteenth Hamish Macbeth book.

Death of an Addict
Death of an Addict

I'll start out with the things I found I liked about this book. One of them was the whole "fish-out-of-water" scenario involving Hamish being sent to Amsterdam. At first I wasn't really sure what to expect from that, but I did find I loved how his almost child-like innocence did manage to get him into trouble, especially when he inadvertently winds up in bed with a prostitute.

Also, while it took a few chapters for her to grow on me, I did end up liking his partner/superior Detective Inspector Olivia Chater. This is mostly because she brought something a little unique to the plot, both as a love interest for the love-starved Macbeth and as a bit of a wild card. I wasn't sure if she would wind up being a distraction for Macbeth or if her obvious inexperience/determination to stick by the book would cause them problems.

In fact, as I was reading this book, I was kind of expecting her to turn out to be one of the bad guys, mostly because she always seemed to be making calls. That did, admittedly, keep me reading because I was half expecting her to pull a gun on him or something.

On that same subject, I did wind up liking how Beaton essentially made her a one-and-done character (or, so I think) rather than someone we will see a lot of in future books (or, at least I am assuming). This allowed me to enjoy her as a character more because I knew there was no chance of getting burned out on her later.

My biggest problem with this book is it really lacked a strong mystery. In fact, part of me thinks the whole undercover drug investigation plot was nothing more than a clever way to draw attention away from a murder that ultimately was solved by asking one person in Hamish's own town of Lochdubh. I probably wouldn't have minded this too much had there at least been an effort to give some clues about his death during the course of that investigation so I would have at least felt a bit like I was reading a murder mystery.

Death of an Addict (Hamish Macbeth Mysteries, No. 15): A Hamish MacBeth Mystery

From the author of the Agatha Raisin television series...DEATH OF AN ADDICT: A Hamish Macbeth MysteryFormer drug addict Tommy Jarret rents a Scottish chalet to check out reports...

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Final Opinion

I didn't hate the book. But, I do wish it would have had more of a mystery-like plot rather than have the majority of the book dedicated to Hamish being undercover and wrapping up Tommy's murder relatively easily at the very end.

My Grade: C

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Updated: 06/10/2019, StevenHelmer
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DerdriuMarriner on 02/05/2022

StevenHelmer, Thank you for product lines, pretty pictures and practical information.
It perhaps fits with his lifestyle that Constable Macbeth hadn't been abroad before. But it's somewhat surprising nevertheless to think of someone in law enforcement not going to sunny southernmost France or Spain for time off and time away from always running into colleagues and perpetrators.

The Wikipedia article mentions that the Beaton books have been adapted to television. The library system here shows nothing other than the books. Would you happen to have seen the televised versions of the Macbeth series?

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