In this addition to Beaton's series featuring unassuming Scottish policeman Hamish Macbeth, Hamish finds himself precipitated by a vicious toothache into the world of Dr. Frederick Gilchrist. Gilchrist is a local dentist best known for his eagerness to replace healthy teeth with inexpensive dentures, and infamous for his hard hand on the drill. Maggie Bane, his lovely assistant with a harsh and unlovely voice, surprises Hamish with her hostility, but he is even more astonished to find the dentist's dead body reclining in his chair with mysterious drill marks on his teeth.
Delving deeper into the village's rural dish in search of the murderer, Macbeth uncovers long-buried relationships, an illicit local still, a robbery that is not what it appears, and the expected deceptions and partial truths his countrymen tell the police for reasons only a local character like Hamish can understand. Once again, he has occasion to contact his former love, the adamantine Priscilla Halburton-Smyth, and her friend, Sarah Hudson, even helps Hamish hack into police records for his investigation.
Macbeth's efforts bustle charmingly along against the background of quirky Scots dialect and rustic pubs. And Beaton's tangled web of a mystery is tidily resolved to the satisfaction of the locals and, surely, for all the devoted fans of this winning series. --Barbara Schlieper