Book Reviews: Death of Yesterday by M.C. Beaton and So Close the Hand of Death by J.T. Ellison

Death of YesterdayDeath of Yesterday
A Hamish Macbeth Mystery #29
M. C. Beaton
Grand Central Publishing, February 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4555-0475-6
Mass Market Paperback

Contrary to the old adage, familiarity breeds contentment. After all, a series that has been around since 1985 must have something going for it. And the Hamish Macbeth novels certainly do: The small-town Scottish police sergeant himself and his uncanny insights and uncommon and unorthodox manner; a cast of characters that repeatedly stays on form; plots that follow a pattern but are different from one another; Macbeth’s eternal hard times from his superiors; his forlorn love life; his pets, a wild cat and a dog; and a lightheartedness that is easy to take and read.

The latest entry has the death of a woman haunting Macbeth although her arrogance originally annoyed him when she reported a possible date drug rape. This gives the author the chance to subject Macbeth and other police officers to a type of omerta in the small northern Scottish village where the crime took place. So, no witnesses. How to solve the mystery? By plain hard work.

This is the 29th Hamish Macbeth mystery. It is replete with a flavor of good single-malt scotch, as usual. And just as important, the author describes the bleak economy in northern Scotland, lack of jobs, employees fearful of being fired from the only employer in town, and the general social milieu of small-town snobbishness. Recommended.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, February 2014.


So Close the Hand of DeathSo Close the Hand of Death
J.T. Ellison
Mira Publications, February 2011
Mass Market Paperback

Imitation is said to be the most sincere form of flattery. But what if the flattery is focused on murder? On rape and butchery? Well, is that a different kettle of worms?

J. T. Ellison writes a hell of a thriller, intricate and taut. And pace. Wow. This novel starts strongly out of the gate and rushes pell mell toward an uncertain climax. The author revels, one might almost say wallows, in piecing together a vastly complicated revenge plot against one of Nashville’s finest, well-trained brainy detective, Taylor Jackson.

From the first, shockingly near killings, Homicide Lieutenant Taylor Jackson and her fiancé, FBI special agent John Baldwin, ace profiler, are beset on all sides by a malevolent brilliant killer who has fashioned a murderous game that will shock and awe even seasoned thriller readers. As the twisting trails bring Taylor ever closer to a confrontation with a man they call the Pretender, more and more horrific information is revealed.

Ellison demonstrates a high level of mastery of mis-direction and revealing essential information in a timely and well-written manner to entice the reader deeper into her tale.

This is a first rate violent and bloody thriller in every aspect. I highly recommend this novel, noting that a copy was supplied to me at no cost and with no expectations.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, November 2013.
Author of Red Sky, Devils Island, Hard Cheese, Reunion.


4 thoughts on “Book Reviews: Death of Yesterday by M.C. Beaton and So Close the Hand of Death by J.T. Ellison

  1. M.C. Beaton is one of my favorite cozy writers, and Hamish Macbeth is an endearing character. I think I’ve read all 29 books in this series, and I am always on the lookout for Beaton’s newest addition. And as for the thriller by J.T. Ellison, it sounds like something I’d love to read…I’ll have to pick up a copy! Thanks for the thoughtful and well-written reviews.


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