First in the long-running Hamish Macbeth mystery series. I picked up four of the early entries in the series a couple of weeks ago, as I was a fan of the 1990s tv adaptation but somehow had never seen the books before. Unsurprisingly, there are significant differences between tv and book in the details of the universe, but the tone is pretty much the same. Hamish is a gentle, lazy, laid-back crofter’s son who has found a comfortable niche as the village constable in a remote Highlands village. But when murder comes to Lochdubh, he finds himself unwilling to be pushed aside by the city cops who have written him off as too lazy and stupid to be of use. And lazy Hamish may be, but stupid he certainly isn’t.
The titular gossip is Lady Jane Winters, a member of the new class at the local fishing school. The students on the residential course are a mixed bag of people, all with their secrets to hide — secrets Lady Jane is only too willing to hint at, making it clear that she knows more about each of them than they’d like. And when her corpse is all too literally fished out of the river by one of the class, it becomes clear that there’s more than a spoilt fishing holiday at stake for someone.
It’s an enjoyable enough book, although I think I liked the tv adaptation better. The characterisation feels a bit thin to me, even allowing for it being a fairly short novel. On the strength of this and the second one, I wouldn’t be inclined to go out and explicitly collect the entire series as I have with some other mystery series, but I’d be perfectly happy to read any that came my way.