A Highland Christmas (Hamish Macbeth Mysteries, No. 16)
M. C. Beaton
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Celebrate the Holidays with M. C. Beaton, The Queen of The Cozy Mystery. In the dark, wintry highlands of Lochdubh, Scotland, where the local Calvinist element resists the secular trimmings of Christmas, the spirit of Old St. Nick is about as welcome as a flat tire on a deserted road. Nor is crime taking a holiday, as Constable Hamish Macbeth soon finds himself protecting an unhappy girl, unlocking the secrets of a frightened old woman, and retrieving some stolen holiday goods. Now the lanky lawman must use all his Highland charm and detective skills to make things right. And he had better do it quickly, for the church bells will soon toll and all of Lochdubh will be forced to face another dreary winter without the comforting embrace of Yuletide cheer.
me to get Hamish to the phone?” “No,” said Priscilla quickly. “Don’t bother.” She asked some more questions about the hotel and then rang off. The manager looked at the now silent phone. He felt guilty but, on the other hand, he told himself, how was Hamish ever going to get over Priscilla if she kept jerking his chain? • • • Hamish drove Maisie back to her cottage and then made his way back to the police station. He switched on the answering machine. The first was only a silence and then a
Christmas lights.” Hamish took out his notebook. “Can you give me a description?” “One o’ them had dyed blonde hair and one o’ thae rings through his nose. T’other was squat and dark. The fair one was wearing a red anorak and jeans and the dark one, an old tweed coat and jeans as well.” “What were they wearing on their feet?” “We used to call them ‘sandshoes,’ then they were called ‘sneakers,’ now they’re called ‘running shoes.’ Them white things.” “Thanks. Any other distinguishing marks?
into Lochinver for a cup of tea. Then he saw a glimmer of white across the moorland. He stopped abruptly and climbed out of the Land Rover. In the gloaming, he could just make out a white trailer. He set out across the moorland. The sun had gone down and great stars were beginning to twinkle against a greenish sky. As he approached, he saw the blue-painted tailgate of a truck parked beside the trailer. There was a dim light shining through the curtained windows. Hamish did not feel like tackling
they’d probably have smashed the lights and chopped up the tree. Someone’s probably down in the streets of Inverness or somewhere like that trying to sell them. In fact, when I get back to the police station, I’ll phone the police in Inverness and Strathbane and ask them to keep a lookout for the missing lights.” Hamish passed a pleasant hour helping Angela with the decorations and then went back to the police station. He went into the office and played back the messages on the answering
what d’ye want to know about her for?” “Curious. That’s all. I think she’s a verra frightened woman.” “Listen, Hamish, if I lived up there and never spoke to a body except to do a deal for sheep at the sales at Lairg, I’d get frightened as well.” “I think there’s more to it than that. Oh, and if you hear of someone selling Christmas lights, let me know. Cnothan’s had theirs stolen.” “There’s a lot o’ Free Presbyterians o’er there.” The great essayist Bernard Levin once described the Free