Not necessarily interested in reading or rereading Shakespeare’s “Scottish play” while touring Scotland? Consider a 21st century version: Hamish Macbeth, a wonderfully cozy village whodunit set in northwestern part of the country, written by the prolific M. C. Beaton (see her series on Agatha Raisin). Death of a Gossip (1985) kicks off the run of mysteries in the fictional village of Lochdubh (black water in Gaelic) and introduces readers to the lazy and somewhat lanky Hamish, the one and only local bobby in the village, who is fond of mooching a coffee from the local hotel when feasible and who is devoted to his faithful dog but who also raises chickens for the egg money he can send to his crofter (subsistence farming) parents.
A Columbo/Peter Falk-like character, Macbeth’s powers of investigation can be seriously underestimated as when a shrill and entirely unlikeable character enrolled at a local fishing school is found bound with her own line in a darned good pool, annoying the fishers who must wait until the crime scene is cleared. His nemesis, Inspector Blair, is particularly apt to put Hamish in his place.
Thirty titles about Hamish and his dry wit and longing for the out-of-reach patrician Patricia Halburton-Smythe will keep the reader stocked for touring. The unfortunate TV series version—according to Beaton—featured the rather short actor Robert Carlyle; the setting is Plockton. Other real towns include Dingwall and Cromarty—the latter the seaside town where Hamish’s parents live. (Try Tulloch Castle in the former for an overnight stay and good meal. Ask for the ghost tour.)
But Cawdor Castle, the supposed site of Shakespeare’s Macbeth is not too distant although truly as a 14th century castle it could exist in the Bard’s mind as a likely place for the unfortunate Thane but not in reality as the gory drama takes place well before the 1300s. Travelers may prefer the more comfortable gore of the Hamish Macbeth stories.