Lovelorn Police Sergeant Hamish Macbeth’s date with fetching nurse Gloria Dainty does not go well in M.C. Beaton’s Death of a Nurse. It’s not just that he’s been stood up by her. It turns out Gloria has been murdered. In addition, Hamish finds out that Gloria was not who he hoped her to be. Many in the community thought she was a gold digger as she had been seen cozying up to many men at the local inn. Gloria had worked for Mr. Harrison, a surly wheel chair bound older man who had recently moved into a hunting lodge. Could Harrison be the murderer? Harrison’s son Andrew, a lawyer, is also considered a suspect. Besides the fact that Gloria’s is not the only death in Death of a Nurse, I won’t give any more of the plot away.
Death of a Nurse is set in a small town in Scotland. Author M.C. Beaton’s dialogue captures the Scottish dialect without going overboard. She also conveys the charm and the quirkiness of a small Scottish town.
Hamish isn’t the most likeable character. He spends a lot of his time wondering why he hasn’t found a good woman. His partner Charlie, in the meantime, has had their supervisor for the case, Police Inspector Fiona Herring, cozy up to him. Hamish’s former partner, Dick Fraser, has started a bakery with the exotic and beautiful Anka. Hamish’s two most loyal companions are his dog Lugs and a wild cat named Sonsie that he actually should not be keeping as a pet. Hamish’s adoration for his pets helped me get past his gruff exterior and preoccupation with the opposite sex.
Rather than overload the reader with forensics and other high-tech policing, Beaton has Hamish pursue the case with more old-fashioned investigative techniques such as looking for motives and interviewing suspects. Even when the case appears to be wrapped up at one point, Hamish continues to go over what he know in his head as something does not seem quite right about the conclusion the big city coppers have come to. This helps make Death of a Nurse a gripping mystery with strong setting and characters.