Murder and Kindness in the Highlands

Oh, I have been a busy bee, but you’d never know to see my house! I have had projects going and a family member who was working on his own project here has been in and out too much to get it finished, as he is working and working on another project elsewhere. That one is contingent on others and he hasn’t much control over when the time for that is available,

so guess which gets neglected?

The one involving my house, of course. Nevertheless, I have had lots of time alone to put the earbuds in and do a marathon of one series of audiobooks. I have been running through another series by the same M.C. Beaton who wrote the “Poor Relations” books that I reviewed recently, The Hamish Macbeth mysteries.

When I said something to my sister about them, she said that she and her daughter had watched a series based on the books. I got online and found them available, but watched only a few minutes; I could not bear what they had done to the character, the townsfolk and the storyline.

“Based on” is such a ‘come-on’. I did a post years  ago about how once a story was ‘optioned’ by a production company, unless you had the money and clout to hold out like a J.R. Rowling and insist onretaining some creative control, the producers and writers can and will change anything they want.

When we meet Hamish Macbeth, in the books he’s the local ‘Bobby’ in the fictitious town of Lochdubh (“Black Lake”) in the north of Scotland. He is much smarter than most people realize because he is unambitious. He is perfectly happy in his low-paying job and his laid-back lifestyle. He’s also a terrible mooch. Even with is low pay, he sends much of his money home to help his parents with the flock of children they had after Hamish, who had been an only child for many years.

That is, or was, the custom in Scotland, for the oldest male to help with the rest of the family, and why there were a large number of late marriages or single older men.

Hamish also does not want to leave the lovely setting of the area, the people that he knows and …the woman with whom he is smitten, the beautiful daughter of the lord of the big manor, and the laird of the local castle, (who finds Hamish completely unsuitable for everything, especially his daughter.)

Hamish and the lovely Pricilla enjoy a nice, friendly relationship, and sometimes a purely romantic relationship between them over the 1980s where the stories are set. So far, the on-again-off-again close friendship/romance of these two has been strangely smooth reading, well intergrated in the storylines. We will see. I heard that the cartoonist who did the “Brenda Starr” series got actual threats from his readers if he didn’t cut the garbage and have Brenda marry the man who left her standing at the altar so many times.

(He was a ‘mystery man’, or I was told, and his sudden disappearances were for good reason, also so I was told. I would never have had the patience to put up with that storyline. I am not sure that I even read the last Stephanie Plum book, a series which I enjoyed greatly through many volumes, mostly because I could no longer bear to think  “Oh-come-on-Stephanie-marry-Morelli-already-and-give-up-on-Ranger”.
The series went on for too long.

So far, Hamish is still enjoyable as we get to know more about the local residents. Their conversations and their greetings of  “Oh, it’s yourself, Hamish”, which would have made me get away is taken in stride as an acceptable greeting for him.

There are discreet ‘adult situations’, but (Spoiler Alert), up to Book 17, not between Hamish and Pricilla.

He drinks in moderation and restraint, doesn’t smoke or have any other bad habits, except the occasional poaching of salmon from the Laird of the manor’s river.

We have to love Hamish, even if some of those in his village or other villages on his beat do not appreciate him at all.

He’d rather get to the bottom and straighten a problem out than just fine or arrest people, so they really should appreciate him more.

As in many series, Hamish simply finds himself involved in some murder, generally involving visitors or  newcomers to the area. Hamish’s superior officer in Strathblane steals his ‘collars’ and takes the credit for crimes solved, but since recognition would mean a promotion and relocation to headquarters, Hamish is not too unhappy about it,  however, he uses some as leverage to get his home at the police station improved, rather than risk a move south.

 In fact, Strathblane, (a real city), gets described as so dirty and bad in these books that I have to wonder what the real city officials and inhabitants think of of M.C. Beaton?

I won’t give away any more because, well, spoilers, and I think most would enjoy the series. Each volume can stand alone, but knowing the background of all of the regular characters enhances enjoyment. 

The readings in the audiobooks have nearly always been good, and I have only had one big complaint, (and I made it). In one book, “Death of a Snob” (an American author who was indeed a snob), Hamish had to contact a top New York City literary agent and a top NYC book publisher, and the narrator, a Brit who has otherwise done a very good job, voiced these people  with a harsh, lowbrow Bronx/Brooklyn accents. I commented that these were indeed “New York accents”, but the agents and publishers in NYC were their own kind of “snobs”, top of the literary circles, and making them talk like street rats was akin to  having top London publishers and agents speak with Cockney accents.

The Hamish Macbeth stories were M.C. Beaton’s life for many years and her last series the “Poor Relations”. I never would have believed that I would have gotten this far, (on #18!) and I think I am only halfway through. I take breaks, but I find myself going back to Hamish. I hope that I can branch out, but I also hope that I can finish the series.

Do you know Hamish Macbeth in the books? Have you seen the series? Please don’t judge the books by it. As much as I generally enjoy Robert Carlyle, he looks and acts pretty much the opposite as Hamish in the series as Hamish is described in the books.


About Tonette Joyce

Tonette was a once-fledgling lyricists-bookkeeper, turned cook/baker/restaurateur and is now exploring different writing venues,(with a stage play recently completed). She has had poetry and nonfiction articles published in the last few years. Tonette has been married to her only serious boyfriend for more than thirty years and she is, as one person described her, family-oriented almost to a fault. Never mind how others have described her, she is,(shall we say), a sometime traditionalist of eclectic tastes.She has another blog : "Tonette Joyce:Food,Friends,Family" here at WordPress.She and guests share tips and recipes for easy entertaining and helps people to be ready for almost anything.
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5 Responses to Murder and Kindness in the Highlands

  1. Jeff Salter says:

    My only familiarity with the PBS series is that I’ve seen ads and trailers.
    But nothing, so far, has compelled my interest sufficiently to watch an episode, even thou my wife seems to have viewed some (or several).
    That said, I’m always amazed to learn that screen writers (incl. the TV series folks) and keep only the characters NAME and LOCALE… but change nearly everything else. Makes one wonder why they optioned that property in the first place!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never heard of the books or the TV series, so I can’t comment on the way the writers have altered the stories. It’s rare for the screen portrayals to be true to the books. The only time I’ve seen changes made that the original author approved were in the Virgin River series – Robyn Carr actually stated that she loved the changes that the series writers made!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting! I had a guest in some time ago who is a producer and had a great dealof ‘say’ in the adaptationof oneof her books, but they changed things and sometimes,just for change’s sake.It’s silly, really.It’s often a ego thing.


  3. Elaine Cantrell says:

    Hamish and I are old friends! I always enjoy his adventures.


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