Death of a Nurse by M. C. Beaton is a delightful story. Set in Lochdubh, Scotland, the author does an exceptional job of bringing the reader to the culture, geography and lives of the characters in his books. We are immediately compelled by the character of Police Sergeant Hamish Macbeth, who keeps the peace for a large tract of the country. He brings a sensible and often amusing cachet to his job and makes it is responsibility to know all the citizens in the surrounds. He also badly wants a girlfriend.
When Gloria Dainty, a private duty nurse to James Harrison, an elderly handicapped curmudgeon, arrives in the area, she seems a likely candidate. Hamish meets Gloria carrying groceries out of the store and is immediately smitten with her perfect oval face and large grey eyes. When she bends over the “boot” of her car to put the groceries away and Hamish gets a gander at stockings held up by lacy garters, he’s a goner. He asks her out to dinner and she agrees. When Gloria is a no show for their date, however, Hamish is dismal. For the first time in his life, he wishes he had a “nice wee crime” to take his mind of things.
Several days later, after learning that Gloria left her employer’s home unexpectedly, Hamish finds a small tousle-haired child at the edge of the sea holding a dripping wet nurse’s cap. With beating heart, he picks his way among the rocks and finds the shattered body of Gloria Dainty. He immediately suspects that she was thrown over the cliff and his intuition is confirmed by the pathologist.
There are a hundred twists and turns in this story: clues, red herrings, and dead ends lead readers and Hamish astray before the perp is nailed. Death of a Nurse is a rollicking ride, and I got many a good chuckle. Poor Hamish: he only wanted a date and got a murder instead!
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