Death of A Ghost by M C Beaton

by on September 16, 2019 under , ,

Being part of a self-imposed reading challenge (to read one book in a day), I began with the thinnest. I was attracted by its dark daunting cover and title. Death Of A Ghost, how intriguing! A ghost is already dead after all. Is it a paranormal mystery or something else? Since it’s part of a long-running mystery series and less than 300 pages, I was sure it’d be a fast read.

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It took me two days! A bad headache had deterred me from reading it in a day. To read a mystery, you need a clear mind to solve the problem along with the detective to be fully immersed in the story!

But turns out I don’t need that much brain power. It was a very light cozy mystery of an unambitious Scottish Sergeant Hamish Macbeth. A smart enough man with an appetite for Scottish baps and disastrous relationships with women.

We began with him trying to get rid of a very feminist girlfriend who nitpick his phlegmatic way of life. But that was resolved easily when someone helped by telling her he was going to marry and make a housewife out of her. She won’t have that! And just like that, he was a free man.

Soon, he and his partner, Charlie were sent to investigate an alleged ghost in a castle owned by a retired police chief, amiable enough to be called Handy. Of course, we know there are no such thing as ghosts. But Charlie was so distraught with superstition that he fell right into a hole in the old tower. And oh, what’s this? There’s a dead body! And so, our mystery begins!

It was a simple murder mystery. Everything was laid out as plain as day. What our Hamish theorised became true. Not much conflict to his investigation except busybodies who were too personal with his now single life. Other than that, the villain was caught easily in the end. I won’t spoil too much.

But it was bizarre that in the last two chapters: Chapter Eleven and Epilogue, even as our villain was caught and dealt with, there was another different story. It was as if the editor had told the author, “Um, story’s all very nice, mam, but you need to fill up 3000 more words. It’s not enough for print.” So there it was. A strange little incident about Hamish’s boorish rival, Inspector Blair. And in these short two chapters, the villain was ousted quite easily. Again, I don’t want to spoil too much.

Admittingly, the first few chapters were quite dull. The characters weren’t complex. They were more of caricatures, up to my imagination to fill in the gaps. Don't get me wrong. I did enjoy the comic relief. Sleuthing with Hamish was amusing with his blunders. But I couldn't connect to the story because, ah, I’m not its target audience.

I tend to think too deeply when it comes to a good mystery, thinking ahead before our flawed detective, being pleased with myself when it turned out as I speculated. This novel, however, was meant for the author’s fans. It is listed after ten or more books. I should’ve started from the first book.

But I kept reading for the simple reason that it reminded me of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five. Simple sleuthing with lots of beef sandwiches. No need to crack my head to find out whodunnit. Just follow along. Hurry, Timothy, that’s a good boy! I liked George, btw.

Was I disappointed at the end? No, it was an adorable little mystery! It’s like listening to your favourite old Aunt talking happily about a neighbour who was killed in a locked room. But she wasn’t concerned about how complex the murder was such that it'd take months for the police to unravel that the jealous husband did it. She was more concerned about the people around the victim. Thus, a gruesome murder became chirpier because of her jovial personality. So it was still amusing and enjoyable!

This little novel is a good start to the reading challenge. A good warm-up. After all, I need to be prepared for the next one: a more intense murder mystery, Curtain by Agatha Christie.

Hercule Poirot’s last case.

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