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Review: Death of a Chimney Sweep

June 5, 2011

Captain and Milly Davenport hire Pete Ray to clean their chimney.  They’re gone for a little while and when Milly returns, she finds blood dripping from her chimney.  She calls Hamish Macbeth who discovers Pete’s body stuffed in the chimney.   Macbeth discovers that Captain Davenport is a cheat and a fraud, but doesn’t get the case solved until quite a few more people lose their lives.

Death of a Chimney Sweep was my first experience with M. C. Beaton‘s work, and it was just okay for me.  Maybe my expectations were set too high, because I was expecting to be totally charmed by this book.  I did find the descriptions of the Scottish village to be charming, but there were too many characters and not enough character development in this book for me.  Admittedly, I’m coming into the series on the 27th book, but I’ve found I can do that when a series is well written.

Hamish Macbeth was just a little too intuitive for me.  For example, he walks into his office, realizes someone else has been in there and goes straight to the bug that’s been left.  His methods were unconventional, but in the end, he made sure justice was done.  The plot seemed to get more and more complicated (and far-fetched) as it progressed and there were so many characters, I had trouble keeping track of them all.  I also felt things were tied up just a little too neatly in the end.

Overall, I think fans of the Hamish Macbeth series will want to read Death of a Chimney Sweep, but if you’re new to the series, you might want to start with a different book.

Review copy provided by Hachette Books. I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
32 Comments leave one →
  1. June 5, 2011 5:57 am

    I read Death of a Valentine last year and I can’t say I loved it. I used to adore the TV series but the books didn’t appeal to me as much.

  2. June 5, 2011 7:08 am

    Good to know. I’ve seen a couple episodes of the tv series but not sure I’d want to read the books now.

  3. June 5, 2011 7:22 am

    I have read some of Beaton’s Agatha Raisin series and enjoyed them mostly because of Agatha. It doesn’t’ sound like I would have the same reaction to this series. I find it interesting when an author writes several different series and some I like and some not so much.

  4. drbethnolan permalink
    June 5, 2011 7:26 am

    I’ve read pretty much all of this series. I liked this one – but didn’t really love it. I’ve seen the BBC series, too – which is similar to the books but definitely has differences. I think I like some of the earliest novels best for Hamish — that often happens to me with series that have many installments!
    Beth’s Book-Nook Blog

  5. June 5, 2011 7:41 am

    Too many characters and not enough character development can be a problem for me too. I haven’t read any of the author’s books, but I have heard a lot about them. I think I will start with some other book by this author.

  6. June 5, 2011 8:03 am

    I’m thinking that this one might have been better for you if you were more familiar with the characters.

  7. June 5, 2011 8:12 am

    I’ve never heard of this series…and I’m thankful that I won’t be adding another series to my teetering TBR pile 🙂 Thanks for the honest review.

  8. June 5, 2011 8:21 am

    I haven’t gotten to this yet, but I love Hamish! There is quite a bit of back history on him and the other characters in the earlier books. This may be a case in which you need to read some earlier books first. They are very light mysteries and I think that’s why I enjoy them — total escape with familiar characters.

  9. June 5, 2011 8:40 am

    Oh! You must give Agatha Raisin a chance. I haven’t read a Hamish MacBeth book, but Agatha is an interesting character.

  10. June 5, 2011 8:48 am

    I’m a bit religious when it comes to series. I can’t read out of order for fear of losing/missing something. I might check out the earlier books in the set, though, if you think it would help paint a better picture than this selection.

  11. June 5, 2011 9:21 am

    I’ve seen enough books now about bodies stuffed in chimneys and laundry chutes and so on that I can’t even see one anywhere without thinking about whether a body might be in there!

  12. June 5, 2011 9:43 am

    First time I hear of this series. Good to know that I should start with another since this one seems a bit of a doozy.

    Thanks for the heads up and honest review.

  13. June 5, 2011 9:44 am

    LOL @ Rhapsody!

  14. June 5, 2011 10:08 am

    I don’t like it when there are a lot of characters, and none of them are really all that developed. I also think that Macbeth being so intuitive would bother me as well. Sorry to hear that this one wasn’t what you had hoped for. I think I will probably skip it.

  15. June 5, 2011 10:41 am

    I don’t think I’d be too happy with a detective like that. When I read mystery/detective/courtroom novels, I like to relate to the lead character. This may not do it for me.

  16. June 5, 2011 11:03 am

    I like my characters well developed so not sure this would be for me. I’m kind of obnoxious when it comes to series of books and won’t read them out of order. I always feel like I might be missing something although usually the beginning of a book in a series brings you up to speed on past books.

  17. Mandy permalink
    June 5, 2011 1:19 pm

    I normally love a good cozy mystery. It’s really helpful to know that I should start with the first book for this series. Although, you’re absolutely right. In an exceptional series, character development will be strong throughout each book.

  18. June 5, 2011 2:03 pm

    this sounds like a book you could read on the beach, where you didn’t really need to read and earth shattering story. Thanks for your honest review.

  19. June 5, 2011 3:33 pm

    I like Agatha Raisin better but don’t mind picking up a book wit Hamish in it. The ones I have I paid a 25 cents for, so even though they didn’t knock my socks off it was okay for a cozy mystery and a few hours of reading.

  20. June 5, 2011 3:42 pm

    Thank you for your honest review. Suspense/mystery is my favorite genre but, I agree when there are too many characters and a plot that is not believable, it makes for a not so enjoyable read. This one won’t be making it on to my tbr list.

  21. June 5, 2011 4:04 pm

    I really enjoyed the tvseries 😀 I can still hear his voice in my head

  22. June 5, 2011 4:52 pm

    I used to read this series years ago…and I loved it…

  23. June 5, 2011 8:51 pm

    This is a series that I’ve always wanted to read but have never managed to yet. One of these days I’ll get to it, but I may start with the first book first. Thanks for the review.

  24. June 5, 2011 9:08 pm

    I think I’d like to check this one out at some point. I’ll keep my expectations low, and maybe i’ll enjoy it more.

  25. June 5, 2011 9:09 pm

    I have read about this book and this author and somehow missed reading any of it. Time to read this author now.

  26. June 5, 2011 9:43 pm

    I’ve wanted to try this author for ever; sounds like a fun mystery.

  27. stacybuckeye permalink
    June 5, 2011 9:51 pm

    A series I’ve always been curious about but never tried. 27 books is a lot history to miss, so this probably wasn’t the easiest one to start with, but you’re right about it being well done in some series so that you can jump right in!

  28. June 6, 2011 8:20 pm

    Too bad it didn’t work better for you. 27th book in a series though??? It might be that the series is wearing thin.

  29. June 6, 2011 10:19 pm

    Beaton does kind of assume that you’ve read other books in the series. The character development is something that has come along throughout the series and most of the villagers have already been introduced by now so it would really be hard to pick up the 27th book and have it work. Which is both a good way, and a bad way, to write. I appreciate not having to have things repeated to me every time I pick up one of the books so that new readers can get caught up. But then you really can’t just jump in. Doesn’t sound like this one lived up to the others even getting past that point.

  30. June 8, 2011 11:07 am

    I’ve heard some really good things about Beaton’s work and I do have a few books by this author to read. Too bad it wasn’t better for you. I have to say the cover is cute though.

  31. June 14, 2011 4:02 pm

    Mystery series are usually a bit difficult for me to get into. I prefer books that are character driven. I love falling in love with characters that are well developed to the point where they come alive. Not sure if this series will offer that for me. Plus, I’m not really in the market for a new series to get into. I’ve already got a ton of reading on my plate.

  32. June 14, 2011 5:38 pm

    I don’t LOVE this series, but I find it perfect for when I’m not feeling well or just want a break from my other reading. Hamish is actually my preference over Agatha Raisin. Hamish is intuitive, and there are moments in the book where it seems that intuition comes as much from where he lives as who he is.

    I think you may like Louise Penney a bit more. Her mysteries are much more complex but have a very “cozy” feel the them.

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