M. Beaton: Death Of An Addict

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M. Beaton Death Of An Addict
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    Death Of An Addict
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    Детектив / на английском языке
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    Английский
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Death Of An Addict: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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Constable Hamish MacBeth goes undercover to investigate the mysterious death of a recovered heroin addict, whose church has been suspected of being in the drug trade.

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M. C. Beaton


Death Of An Addict

Book 15 in the Hamish MacBeth series, 1999


All characters in this book are entirely a figment of the authors imagination.

Lochdubh, which is also fictional, is pronounced Lochdoo.

CHAPTER ONE

Shall man into the mystery of breath

From his quick breathing pulse a pathway spy?

Or learn the secret of the shrouded death,

By lifting up the lid of a white eye?

– George Meredith


Hamish Macbeth drove along a rutted one-track road on a fine September day. The mountains of Sutherland soared up to a pale blue sky. There had been weeks of heavy rain and everything seemed scrubbed clean and the air was heavy with the smell of pine and wild thyme.

It was a good day to be alive. In fact, for one lanky red-haired Highland policeman who had just discovered he was heart-whole again, it was heaven.

The once love of his life, Priscilla Halburton-Smythe, had been home to the Highlands on a brief visit. They had gone out for dinner together and his mind had probed his treacherous heart but had found nothing stronger lurking in there but simple liking.

The sun was shining and somewhere out there were charming girls, beautiful girls, girls who would be only too happy to give their love and their lives to one Hamish Macbeth.

The vast heathery area of his beat which lay outside the village of Lochdubh had been crime-free, and so he had little to do but look after his small croft at the back of the police station, feed his sheep and hens, mooch around in his lazy way and dream of nothing in particular.

His beat had of late merely been a series of social calls- a cup of tea at some farm, a cup of coffee in some whitewashed little croft house. He was on his way to visit a crofter called Parry McSporran, who lived up in the wilderness of moorland near the source of the River Anstey, just outside the village of Glenanstey.

There are two types of Highlander, the entrepreneur and the cowboy. The entrepreneurs are hardworking, and set up schemes to earn money from tourists, and the cowboys are usually drunken louts, jealous of the entrepreneurs, and set out to sabotage their efforts. A taxi driver, for instance, who started to build up a successful business would suddenly find he was getting calls to pick up people in remote places and when he got there, he would find the call had been a hoax. One who had started a trout farm found the water had been poisoned.

Parry McSporran had built three small holiday chalets on his land. During the building of them, he had experienced some trouble. Building materials had mysteriously gone missing; rude spray-painted graffiti desecrated his house walls.

Hamish had tracked down the youths who had done the damage and had threatened them with prison. After that Parry had been left in peace. He had recently started to take in long lets. He said this way he saved himself the bother of changing linen every week and cleaning the chalets. It was a good move, for the tourist season in Sutherland, that county which is as far north in mainland Britain as you can go, was very short.

Parry was moving his sheep from one field to the other when Hamish arrived. He waved. Hamish waved back and leaned against the fence to watch Parry's sheepdogs at work. There was nothing better, he reflected lazily, than watching a couple of excellent sheepdogs at work on this perfect day. All it would take to complete the bliss would be a cigarette. Stop that, he told his brain severely. He had given up smoking some time ago, but occasionally the craving for one would come unbidden, out of nowhere.

The transfer of the sheep being completed, Parry waved Hamish towards the croft house. "Come ben," he said. "You are chust in time for the cup of tea."

"Grand," said Hamish, following him into the stone-flagged kitchen. Parry was not married. According to all reports, he had never wanted to get married. He was a small, wiry man with sandy hair and an elfin face with those light grey eyes which give little away, as if their bright intelligence masked any feeling lurking behind them in the same way that a man walking into a dim room after bright sunlight will not be able to distinguish the objects lying around.

"Got anyone for your chalets?" asked Hamish, sitting down at the kitchen table.

"I haff the two long lets," said Parry, "and the other one is booked up by families for the summer."

"Who are your long lets?" asked Hamish as Parry lifted the kettle off the black top of the Raeburn stove which he kept burning, winter and summer.

"In number one is Felicity Maundy, English, Green."

"You mean she's a virgin?"

"Come on, Hamish. Don't be daft. I mean one o' thae save-the-world Greens. She is worried about the global warmings."

"In the Highlands!" exclaimed Hamish. "A wee bit o' the global warming up here would chust be grand."

"Aye, but she chust shakes her heid and says it's coming one day."

He put a mug of tea in front of Hamish. "Pretty?" asked Hamish.

"If you like that sort of thing."

"What sort of thing?"

"Wispy hair, wispy clothes, big boots, no makeup."

"And what is she doing up here in Glenanstey?" asked Hamish curiously.

"Herself is finding the quality of life."

"Oh, one of those."

"Aye, but she's been here three months now and seems happy enough. Writes poems."

Hamish lost interest in Felicity. "What about the other one?"

"Nice young man. Tommy Jarret. Early twenties. Writing a book."

"Oh, aye," said Hamish cynically. The ones who locked themselves away from civilisation to write a book were usually the ones who couldn't write anywhere. "Jarret," he mused. "That rings a bell."

"Meaning he has a criminal record?"

"Probably not, Parry. I'll check into it if you like."

"Aye, do that. I'd be grateful to ye, Hamish."

"Mr. McSporran," called a soft voice from the open doorway. "I wondered if I could buy some eggs from you."

Hamish swung round. This, then, must be Felicity Maundy. The sunlight streaming in through the kitchen door shone through her thin Indian-style dress of fine patterned cotton and turned the wisps of her no-colour hair into an aureole. She moved forward into the shadow revealing herself to be a thin, young girl with a pale anxious face and nervous pale blue eyes which slid this way and that.

She was wearing a heavy string of amber beads which made her neck look fragile. Under the long skirts of her dress, she was wearing a pair of what looked like army boots.

"I'll get some for ye," said Parry. "Sit down. This here is Hamish Macbeth."

Felicity nervously eyed Hamish's uniform. "I'll just stand." Her voice was as soft and insubstantial as her appearance.

"How do you pass the time up here, Miss Maundy?" asked Hamish.

"What do you mean?" There was now a shrill edge to her voice.

"I mean," said Hamish patiently, "it's a wee bit remote here. Don't you find it lonely?"

"Oh, not at all!" She spread her arms in a theatrical gesture. "The hills and the birds are my companions."

"Och," snorted Parry, returning with a box of eggs, "you should put on some makeup and heels and go down to Strathbane and have some fun."

"I do not wear makeup," said Felicity primly.

"Why not?" asked Parry. "You could do with a wee bit o' colour in your face."

"If one wears makeup," declaimed Felicity as if reciting a well-rehearsed line, "people cannot see the real you."

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