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Hamish Macbeth #15.5

A Highland Christmas

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Christmas is an ancient Roman festival, not to be celebrated by decent folk in the Scottish Highlands. Police Constable Hamish Macbeth has always loved the festivities, but this year his family is vacationing in sunny Florida. He is stuck with the long, lonely Christmas shift in freezing Lochdubh. A cranky old lady kicks off the holidays by reporting her cat missing. Then the Christmas lights and tree in a nearby village disappear soon after the local council voted to allow decorations. As Hamish finds a way to bring Christmas to the Highlands and make a little girl's dreams come true, he finds -- to his delight -- that he has the best Christmas ever.

Librarian's Note: This is an alternate cover edition for ISBN 9780446609197

160 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1999

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About the author

M.C. Beaton

513 books5,317 followers
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Marion Chesney Gibbons
aka: Ann Fairfax, Jennie Tremaine, Helen Crampton, Marion Chesney, Charlotte Ward, Sarah Chester.

Marion Chesney was born on 1936 in Glasgow, Scotland, UK, and started her first job as a bookseller in charge of the fiction department in John Smith & Sons Ltd. While bookselling, by chance, she got an offer from the Scottish Daily Mail to review variety shows and quickly rose to be their theatre critic. She left Smith’s to join Scottish Field magazine as a secretary in the advertising department, without any shorthand or typing, but quickly got the job of fashion editor instead. She then moved to the Scottish Daily Express where she reported mostly on crime. This was followed by a move to Fleet Street to the Daily Express where she became chief woman reporter. After marrying Harry Scott Gibbons and having a son, Charles, Marion went to the United States where Harry had been offered the job of editor of the Oyster Bay Guardian. When that didn’t work out, they went to Virginia and Marion worked as a waitress in a greasy spoon on the Jefferson Davies in Alexandria while Harry washed the dishes. Both then got jobs on Rupert Murdoch’s new tabloid, The Star, and moved to New York.

Anxious to spend more time at home with her small son, Marion, urged by her husband, started to write historical romances in 1977. After she had written over 100 of them under her maiden name, Marion Chesney, and under the pseudonyms: Ann Fairfax, Jennie Tremaine, Helen Crampton, Charlotte Ward, and Sarah Chester, she getting fed up with 1714 to 1910, she began to write detectives stories in 1985 under the pseudonym of M. C. Beaton. On a trip from the States to Sutherland on holiday, a course at a fishing school inspired the first Constable Hamish Macbeth story. They returned to Britain and bought a croft house and croft in Sutherland where Harry reared a flock of black sheep. But Charles was at school, in London so when he finished and both tired of the long commute to the north of Scotland, they moved to the Cotswolds where Agatha Raisin was created.

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5 stars
1,973 (26%)
4 stars
2,882 (38%)
3 stars
2,167 (29%)
2 stars
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51 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 764 reviews
Profile Image for Bobby Underwood.
Author 100 books260 followers
July 30, 2017
Filled with charm, laced with dark but hilarious social comedy, and sprinkled with Christmas warmth, A Highland Christmas is one of the most endearing entries in the Hamish Macbeth series. Having already firmly established with readers the tall, redheaded constable of Lochdubh with little ambition, and the quirky villagers he must contend with in the remote highlands, Beaton focuses on giving fans of the series a magical novella as a Christmas gift. Reading this is like listening to a breezy Dave Koz Christmas offering on the stereo while trimming the tree.

It’s dark and wintery in Lochdubh as Christmas approaches and the Calvinist element is sucking the spirit right out of the holiday for Hamish. His mother has won a soap slogan contest, and a free Christmas holiday, but Hamish can’t join his folks because he has to take over Constable McGregor’s patch in Cnothon as well as his own. McGregor has come down with a bad appendix, putting the kibosh on any Christmas plans for Hamish. And with no lights, no trees, no carols, no secular trimmings at all — except behind closed doors, so as not to get an earful from the pious — it isn’t feeling much like Christmas to our favorite Highland constable.

When a Christmas tree and lights slated for the nearby village is stolen, Hamish is in no mood to be trifled with. It does seem trifling, however, when an old biddy named Mrs. Gallager reports her cat missing and insists Hamish find it. Intuitive as ever, Hamish senses there’s more to her being frightened than she’s telling. He also senses she’s lonely. When a young schoolgirl named Morag, with parents so dogmatic she hasn’t any friends, may be the culprit in one of the cases, what’s Hamish to do but put two lonely people together for a very special Christmas.

There’s a lot more here, including Hamish’s romance with a local school teacher, a busload of carolers, and a big Christmas dinner that restores the holiday spirit. Hamish is still grieving over Towser in this one, but the ending offers more surprises in this charming and breezy Christmas in the Highlands with Hamish and all the regulars we’ve come to enjoy over the years. This novella is a wonderful Christmas bauble for fans of the series. If you’re not a fan already, this might make you one. Great fun, and highly recommended!
Profile Image for Jessica.
Author 29 books5,627 followers
December 20, 2022
So darling! Not a murder, but just a cute, cute Christmas story with our favorite Highland detective. Of course, there is a mystery here: who has stolen the Cnothan city Christmas lights? And there's the matter of a missing cat, a bitter old biddy, and a flirtatious new schoolteacher.

Reread, 2012: Love it when Hamish loses his temper with the Andersons! So great!

Reread, 2013: Such a fun way to kick off the Christmas reading!

Reread, 2014: Never fails to put me in the Christmas mood!

Reread 2015: Even though I'm not reading all my Christmas books this year, I had to read this one!

Reread 2016: I basically have this memorized at this point.

Reread 2020: I needed the comforting delight of this book. I'm wondering if I should reread the entire Hamish Macbeth series next year.

Reread 2021: Yep. I've got it pretty well memorized. Nope. Don't care.

Reread 2022: Found an audio version of it for free on Audible. Charming to listen to it!
Profile Image for Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh.
167 reviews508 followers
December 29, 2012
I got this book in my stocking, along with a lump of coal. The coal was the highlight… Sorry, sorry, let me start over. In the spirit of the generosity in which it was given, a proper review:
+1 + 1 + 1 + 1 ½ + 1 – 1 – ½ - ½ = 3 ½ stars

+1 SNAPPY DIALOG: “What’s up with you, Constable? Standing about like a great loon. Shouldn’t you be about your duties?” I got a kick out of how all the locals take it upon themselves to bully Hamish, almost like it’s their civic duty. I believe this is healthy behavior. In fact I plan to adopt it in all my future dealings with the police.
-1 HUMBUG: To the question "What will you be doing for Christmas?" the response "Sitting getting drunk & trying not to put my foot through the telly. Do you know they're showing The Sound of Music again? It's enough to drive a man mad” Almost changed this to a plus.
+1 NO PLOT: Sometimes my brain needs a rest, I need a book about nothing.
+1 CULTURAL REFERENCE: great recipe included for cloutie dumpling – throw ingredients into a large pillowcase along with suet & boil. Helpful if you have a washhouse (I know, I know) with a large copper basin (to boil the cloutie in) Slice & fry up with bacon - lasts for weeks.
-1/2 NO DEAD PEOPLE: I feel cheated without a murder, not a corpse in sight. Several characters (in fact the majority) could easily have been done away with. Mrs. Gallagher comes to mind. “She had a genius for sniffing out the vulnerable points in anyone’s character and going in for the kill”
+1 ½ AMBIANCE: “A ragged cloud of crows rose up from the field and scattered over the loch. On such a day it seemed the grass would never grow again or the sun shine.” I find this appealing.
+1 CHARACTERIZATION: Ah, the main protagonist, the dour and downtrodden local constable Hamish Macbeth. I think I’m in love.
-1/2 VALUE: 160 pages? Maybe the author is charging by the word.

I’ll stop now. I’m a firm believer that a review should never be longer than the actual book. In fairness, I really liked it. I’ll even read more of the series (my 1st) As long as they’re on clearance. I’m no daft.
Profile Image for Gary Sundell.
340 reviews51 followers
December 8, 2017
This was Just the sort of Christmas mystery shorter work I was looking for. I read the first of the Hamish Macbeth mysteries not long ago. Normally I would not jump this far into a series, glad I did. Missing cat and a stolen town Christmas tree and it's lights make up the crimes being investigated.
Hamish who seems to have his heart in the right place mist of the time helps spread Christmas cheer and along the way solves the crimes. Hope the characters Hamish helps out make appearances in the series.
Profile Image for Fiona MacDonald.
695 reviews167 followers
January 24, 2018
I know Christmas is over but it didn't stop me relishing in the festive feel of Lochdubh (or rather, the lack of it!). Hamish is roused from his relaxing break to search for a missing cat, missing Christmas lights and a missing Christmas tree - does someone have a grudge against Christmas?
It's always a joy returning to Hamish Macbeth's side, and we are introduced in this story to one of his very favourite characters which I was over the moon about!
Profile Image for Margitte.
1,161 reviews509 followers
September 16, 2022
What can be expected of a Christmas, when the Lochdubh Calvanists deemed it the old Roman Saturnalia, and Santa Claus was ...uhummm... piffle. Flammary. A Pagan tradition, they said. Devil's beacons, says Bessie Ward.

Then there is the matter of the darkness at three in the afternoon. Pitch dark. And Cold. And windy, and dreary. The airport's are packed with folks fleeing the 100th rerun of Miracle on 34th Street; the family get-togethers, and the commercial madness starting in October already, including the never-ending carols.

In Lochdubh, according to Hamish, there was nothing to run from. Christmas never came to the village. Those who did enjoy the festivities, secretly did it behind closed curtains and doors. Mr. Patel sold enough baubles and traditional decorations to prove it.

When all seems to be quiet, and Hamish can look forward to a cozy time by himself, Mrs. Gallagher, the old crabbit, reports a burglary in which her beloved cat, Smoky, vanished. This sets off a chain of events, in which a little girl, named Morag, receives a surprise, a concert is planned for the lonely folks in the old age home, and the new teacher hangs mistletoe in her home, hoping to receive a kiss. The village of Cnothan, the least friendly place in the Highlands, reports a Christmas tree and fairy lights stolen from main street.

There are a few Scrooges behind those remote doors and windows of the crofters. But this Christmas will be different for Lochdubh and some crofters, thanks to Hamish Macbeth. The truculent Detective Chief Inspector Blair is as always in the mix, with Superintendent Daviot blowing down his neck. The biggest Christmas gift however, was waiting for Hamish Macbeth on Christmas Eve. It was not Priscilla Halburton-Smythe at all. A new love is introduced into our favorite constable's life. Cute. Blue-eyed ...

A wonderful, relaxing, light, entertaining feel-good read. A cozy story about Christmas, for Christmas.
Profile Image for Gary Sundell.
340 reviews51 followers
February 4, 2021
Did this reading by listening to the audio book. What an enjoyable story and listen.
Profile Image for Suzy.
775 reviews250 followers
December 7, 2017
As cozy as a book can get! Perfect for a Christmas holiday read. Hamish Macbeth, police constable in the Scottish Highlands is up to his ears in crime. The beloved cat of the local crabby woman crofter has gone missing as have a Christmas tree and lights intended to be put in the town center. Not everyone in the town is unhappy about the missing tree and lights because many of these strict Calvinists believe that Christmas is a pagan holiday. Not to worry, Hamish to the rescue. Christmas comes after all and everything ends with sweetness and light. I'm feeling the glow all the way over here in Minnesota. :)

I have not read any of these books before but see there are 33 of them! This was one of the .5 editions - only a little over 2 hours of listening. I might have to check out others. A shout out to the narrator, Graeme Malcolm, who demonstrated his great versatility. He's the narrator of the grim and gritty Dept Q books about as far away from cozy as one can get!
Profile Image for Ellie.
1,474 reviews372 followers
May 18, 2017
Christmas lights are being stolen and cats are going missing. Christmas in Lochdubh is fighting bitter gray winter cold and parents who don't believe in Santa. Can police officer Hamish Macbeth make it all come out right?

And what about the pretty new schoolteacher? Can she make Hamish forget about his old flame Priscilla?

It's one of the lightest in the series but a perfect holiday treat.
Profile Image for Shauna.
278 reviews17 followers
December 14, 2022
I have apparently read the first book in this series, but hadn't realized that. This was a charming little story. It was a quick listen, just two hours, and you do not have to be familiar with the series to enjoy it.
Profile Image for Linden.
1,470 reviews1 follower
December 23, 2020
Hamish takes the time to find a missing cat, help a surly old woman, and comfort a frightened girl, all while arranging a Christmas concert at an old folks home in Inverness and catching some Christmas light thieves. Spend Christmas in Lochdubh with this short and wonderfully heartwarming story, which is especially enjoyable in this audio version, obtained via Hoopla from the library.
Profile Image for Sara the Librarian.
746 reviews323 followers
December 13, 2018
A bit of charming, mildly mysterious fluff in the Scottish Highlands. I confess to never having read M.C. Beaton before but this was a lovely way to start. With thirty plus novels about the unlucky in love, dashing, much put upon detective Hamish Macbeth, under her belt Ms. Beaton has certainly been doing something right!

Not as long as Beaton's usually fare this was nonetheless a nice way to meet Hamish who's clearly kind, very capable at his job, and perhaps just a touch too moronic when it comes to women. As this is a Christmas story the mysterious goings on all end in a more or less charming jumble of gifts and carols and happy endings for all so I wouldn't call it an especially thrilling suspenseful read but Beaton is a very, very good writer, I was quite charmed by her characters, and am definitely considering a longer stay in the Highlands.
Profile Image for Lynn.
526 reviews5 followers
November 28, 2017
A Christmas novella that has Hamish Macbeth solving mysteries of a missing cat and stolen lights.
He brings Christmas cheer to some residents in the area. Some local people do not want Christmas celebrated with lights and gifts. Hope several of the people introduced in this book will be in future books. It was a feel good read and Hamish shows himself to be special to the people who are in his policing district. Plus there was a new addition to his household.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
783 reviews
March 15, 2020
Really really really cute. Found it while adding other Hamish books to read. Stocking up on books and ebooks in case they close the library. It’s a novella (?) and actually number wise is right after the last one i read.
Profile Image for Colleen Chi-Girl.
609 reviews97 followers
January 12, 2022
This audiobook was just right for today, Xmas Eve morning, to keep me company during my Xmas baking (Gruyère and spinach strata for Xmas Day breakfast). Set in Scotland with a gruff policeman who got stuck with Xmas duty while his family went to the US). You can see the publisher’s note for details. I haven't really read Xmas books during the "Season", unless it was to my child.

All I can say is this novella had all the right ingredients for a perfect Scottish Xmas setting with all the happiness and community you might not expect but will love.
Profile Image for Maria Hill AKA MH Books.
316 reviews130 followers
August 26, 2022
No one dies in this one. But how on earth is Hamish going to solve the mystery of the missing cat, the cross old biddy, the stolen fairy lights, and worse still bring a sense of Christmas to the overly religious in Lough Dubh.
Profile Image for Leslie.
2,660 reviews202 followers
December 20, 2015
My first experience with the Hamish Macbeth series. This novella is a good holiday read, with the rural Scottish policeman Hamish Macbeth not just solving some (minor) mysteries but also involved in his community. I think that I might have to add this series to my TBR...

Graeme Malcolm was a fine narrator for the audiobook. The Scottish accent heightened the experience.
Profile Image for Tracie.
68 reviews2 followers
August 11, 2017
Nice, easy read with all of your favorite characters. Hamish is investigating a theft this go round instead of a murder but it was the perfect Christmas in the Loch with Hamish at the helm ensuring his small town has the perfect holiday.
Profile Image for Zoey .
244 reviews15 followers
December 12, 2015
Its Christmas time in the Scottish Highlands & Hamish Macbeth is all about making sure everyone enjoys this time of year in this Christmas instalment of The Hamish Macbeth series. Lovely very light Cosy mystery, with a missing cat, stolen Christmas lights & a new school teacher who takes a bit of a shine to our Hamish.
I really like Hamish & really must get around to reading more of this series.
Profile Image for Ann-Marie "Cookie M.".
1,107 reviews120 followers
December 25, 2021
What a cute Christmas mystery! I have never read any Hamish Macbeth books before, mainly because I am not a fan of M.C. Beaton's Agatha Raisin series.
But this audio book was free with my Audible membership, and I was feeling like a light Christmas read while doing Christmas needlework, so I gave it a go.

I like Hamish, I like the narration, I like the Lightheartedness of a mystery where no one dies. It is Christmas, after all. So put this on your list for next year, and have a merry one.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jenn Mattson.
1,047 reviews30 followers
May 25, 2022
5/24/22 - re-read this out of order (slightly), but I don't think I've ever read it IN order, because it's such a delightful Christmas story with just a touch of mystery (although the origin of Lugs is explained here and never fails to bring a tear to my eye, particularly when he pees in Blair's shoe, which does put it in the order of the series development).

Update: I just reread this book again to usher in the holiday season! There are certain books that put me in the spirit of the season and this is one of them - I highly recommend it!

Original review: A new Christmas favorite: my favorite detective, Constable Hamish Macbeth, must solve the mystery of the missing cat and the mystery of the stolen lights. A fun, quick read that results in a heart-warming holiday tale. I'm reading this one every year!
Profile Image for writer....
1,286 reviews74 followers
June 13, 2021
Loved this Re-read for the Christmas Spirit Readathon 2016

December 20th 2012 first reading
A great introduction to this author's writing. Enjoyed the well described atmospheric Scottish Highland settings. Familiarity with locations mentioned added to my enjoyment and the reality of the story. Definitely could picture the Christmas attitudes resisting celebration due to religious heritage and loved the actions of our protagonist in bringing that feared celebration into so many lives. A fun, quick reading addition to my Christmas shelf !
Looking forward to exploring more by this author...
Profile Image for Amy D..
58 reviews7 followers
September 20, 2022
Well that was sure a sweet story.

While I'm sure I would have enjoyed it even a bit more if this weren't my very first Hamish Macbeth (thus knowing some of the characters better), that didn't stop me from appreciated the theme of the book.

So many of the uplifting Christmas books rely on romantic love to satisfy the "uplifting" criteria that it was a pleasure to find one that wasn't reliant on a romance story.

I'll probably stick to M.C. Beaton's Agatha Raisin novels for now because I'm more familiar with those and relate more closely with her, but I'm glad I read this dhort and sweet Christmas read. I can envision reading it again in the future as a Christmas tradition.
Profile Image for Lauren.
17 reviews10 followers
February 24, 2021
I love a good murder mystery but I was pleased to find that this short Hamish story was a little different to the usual adventures. It was refreshing to see him over Christmas as his charitable self and really exploring the depth of the character. We see him in his normal duties and it was lovely. Favourite one so far!
Profile Image for Fredrick Danysh.
6,844 reviews158 followers
August 3, 2019
A delightful story featuring Scotish Constable Hamish Macbeth in a Christmas setting. While shorted thaan the normal Macbeth novel, it is well paced as he solves two minor crimes. There are no murders is this book that centers around the spirit of Christmas.
201 reviews2 followers
December 24, 2014
Another wonderful Hamish.

I love Hamish McBeth. This Christmas tale has him solving mysteries and turning miserable people into happy ones. A winner.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 764 reviews

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