You may have recently seen the beginning of a series on Sky 1 about Agatha Raisin. I first discovered Agatha, hiding in the crime and mystery shelves in my local library. Finding that the books about her were written by the author of Hamish MacBeth, I knew I would have to try one of M C Beaton’s books.
I started at the beginning with The Quiche of Death, where we soon learn that over achiever, Agatha, tries to hide her working class Birmingham roots and will lie and cheat to be successful, even if it is only in the social group of a small village. Yet despite her outrageous behaviour, I couldn’t help liking her, as do many of the people she meets. The others despise her! It’s Midsummer Murders with an eccentric lay detective and plenty of humour.
This is the blurb for the second book.
THE POTTED GARDENER
Agatha goes digging where she shouldn’t…
Agatha is taken aback when she finds a new woman ensconced in the affections of her attractive bachelor neighbour, James Lacey. The beautiful Mary Fortune is superior in every way, especially when it comes to gardening – and with Carsely Garden Open Day looming, Agatha feels this deficiency acutely.So when Mary is discovered murdered, buried upside down in a pot, Agatha seizes the moment and immediately starts yanking up village secrets by their roots and digging the dirt on the hapless victim. But Agatha has an awkward secret too . . .
After reading many of these books I moved on to Hamish Macbeth, whom I remembered fondly from the TV series many moons ago. Hamish is the only policeman in the remote Scottish town of Lochdubh. There is nothing he likes better than a quiet life, but crime keeps turning up on his doorstep and with the help of one or more of his erstwhile girlfriends, he always solves the mystery.
Next I read the first of the Six Sisters series which M C Beaton originally published under the name Marion Chesney. Here is the blurb
The first in M.C. Beaton’s great fun Regency Romance series: The Six Sisters. Raven-haired Minerva, eldest daughter of an impecunious vicar, When the Reverend Charles Armitage, an impecunious country vicar in Regency England, announces that raven-haired Minerva, the eldest of his six daughters, is to have her coming-out in London, the news is not well received by the rest of the family. Mrs. Armitage has one of her Spasms and has to be brought round by burning a quantity of feathers under her nose. Annabelle, the nearest in age to Minerva, is clearly jealous, the boys are all surly, and the other girls just start off crying.
Minerva is despatched to Town under the wing of the disreputable old Lady Godolphin. Her task – to find a rich husband and thereby restore the ailing family fortunes.
But the other five daughters will all get their chance, because Minerva is but the first volume in The Six Sisters series by Marion Chesney.
M C Beaton is a prodigious writer. She doesn’t produce great literature but her books are imaginative, lively writing. Her characters jump out of the page. She invented the Cosy Mystery before anyone used the term.
She was born in Scotland in 1936 and worked in Scotland and London as a journalist with the Daily Express. She moved to the United States with her husband but wanting time at home with her son, she began to write books. The couple returned to Scotland and bought a croft in Sutherland. Later they moved to the Cotswolds, the setting for Agatha Raisin.