Death of a Dustman

A Hamish MacBeth Mystery


By M. C. Beaton

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Travel to the Scotland Highlands with this classic Hamish Macbeth cozy mystery from the author of the Agatha Raisin series.

Death of a Dustman: A Hamish Macbeth Mystery

The garbage collectors in Britain are still called dustmen, and Lochdubh's dustman is an abusive drunk named Fergus Macleod. When Fergus is put in charge of a recycling center and dubbed the "environment officer," Constable Hamish Macbeth smells trouble. Sure enough, Fergus soon becomes a bullying tyrant with his new power. And after his body is found stuffed in a recycling bin, no one's sorry-including his long-suffering family. But Macbeth is surprised to find that many of the despicable dustman's victims refuse to talk. And when violence strikes again, the lanky lawman must quickly unearth the culprit among a litter of suspects . . . before a killer makes a clean getaway.



Dear, beauteous death, the jewel of the just!
Shining nowhere but in the dark;
What mysteries do lie beyond thy dust,
Could man outlook that mark!
—Henry Vaughan
Hamish took out his mobile phone and called Jimmy Anderson. "I just wondered," said Hamish, "whether you had ever managed to trace that phone call? You know, the one Fergus got before he went out?"
"Oh, that," said Jimmy. "Useless. Came from that phone box on the waterfront."
"Get Clarry to ask if anyone saw anyone in the box. A light comes on at night."
"Aye, but it was still light at the time he got the call. What are you up to?"
"Just doing a few inquiries about Mrs. Fleming."
"Waste of time," said Jimmy. "I'll get Clarry to ask around and see if anyone saw anyone phoning."
Hamish rang off and then on impulse dialled the minister's wife. "I saw the new schoolteacher arrive," he said.
"So?" barked Mrs. Wellington. Hamish began to curse himself for phoning her. He should have tried Angela instead.
"I thought maybe I should take her out for dinner, it being her first night."
"What a good idea!" exclaimed Mrs. Wellington, much to Hamish's surprise.
"I have the schoolhouse number, but what is her name?"
"Mrs. Moira Cartwright. A divorcée."
Hamish thanked her. After he had said good-bye, he wondered how he had got information about the new schoolteacher so easily from Mrs. Wellington. It would have been more her style to caution him against romancing the new teacher. He phoned the schoolhouse and a brisk voice answered the phone. "Mrs. Cartwright?"
"Yes, who is this?"
"This is Sergeant Hamish Macbeth. I heard you had just moved in. You must be too busy to make a meal this evening. I wondered whether you would like to meet me for dinner at, say, eight o'clock at the Italian restaurant?"
"Is that the place on the waterfront?"
"The same."
"That's very kind of you. I'll be there. Good-bye."
Hamish beamed as he tucked his mobile phone back in his pocket. Forget Priscilla. Or maybe, just maybe, Priscilla might see him with such a beauty.
He then made his way to the Grand Hotel and went into the cocktail bar to wait for Mrs. Fleming's secretary.
* * *
Clarry was moving patiently from house to house, particularly those near the phone box. No one so far had seen anything. He was walking back along the waterfront when he saw the Macleod children coming towards him.
"How's your mother?" he asked Johnny.
"She's trying to get rid o' that man from the restaurant," said Johnny. "She telt him the house was clean, but he's cleaning everything again."
"I'll see to it," said Clarry. "Come with me."
From Hamish, Clarry had heard tales of Willie Lamont's fanatical cleaning. Followed by the children, he marched up to Martha's cottage.
Martha was sitting on a chair outside the front door. From inside came the frantic sound of scrubbing.
"I can't seem to stop him," said Martha helplessly.
"I'll stop him. When's the funeral?"
"They're going to release the body next week, they say. If only you could find out who did it. I'll never be at peace until then."
"I'll find out," said Clarry stoutly. He went in to confront Willie.


On Sale
Jan 1, 2002
Page Count
256 pages

M. C. Beaton

About the Author

M. C. Beaton, hailed as the "Queen of Crime" by the Globe and Mail, was the author of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling Agatha Raisin novels—the basis for the hit series on Acorn TV and public television—as well as the Hamish Macbeth series. Born in Scotland, Beaton started her career writing historical romances under several pseudonyms as well as her maiden name, Marion Chesney. Her books have sold more than twenty-two million copies worldwide.

A long-time friend of M. C. Beaton, R. W. Green has written numerous works of fiction and non-fiction. He lives in Surrey with his family and a black Labrador called Flynn.

Learn more about this author