M C Beaton, (Marion Chesney) is a prolific writer of British cozy mysteries and other genres. This article is concerned only with her cozy mysteries, specifically the Hamish macbeth series and the Agatha Raisin series.
The Hamish Macbeth cozy mystery series takes place in the Highlands which is where M C Beaton and her husband lived for some time. Hamish is a red headed Scottish constable who adores his village way of life and thwarts promotion in order to remain constable of his beloved village. The cozy mysteries involve the quirky and authentic Highland characters who inhabit M C Beaton’s imagination. The mysteries are fascinating and like most cozy mysteries, there isn’t much gore. Comic relief is sprinkled throughout the stories and the characters are memorable, especially since they are seen in most of the mysteries. The mysteries center around Macbeth and we see a confident man with a touch of the child in him and a tenderness that belies his sometimes abrupt behavior. The villagers mock him for his love of his pets, yet when one dies, they provide a funeral for the pet and all share his sorrow. There is much comradery in the village although gossip flies through the wind.
M C Beaton’s Agatha Raisin cozy mystery series also depict village life but on a very slightly more sophisticated level. Agatha Raisin is more of a modern type character, while Hamish Macbeth and his cronies seem to belong to another time. Agatha is brittle, impatient,self deprecating, yet confident in her detecting abilities. She is certainly an individualist and is not well liked due to her aggressive personality, but she is respected by those who know her well. She seems permanently miserable yet she will be brightened by success or by getting revenge. She is actually a likable character despite and probably because of her many self described faults. The Agatha Raisin Series is quite funny and not as “sensitive” as the Hamish Macbeth series since Mrs. Raisin is a lot tougher than is Macbeth. The characters are also quirky, comfortably sharing love and hate with each other. Murder scenes are never pleasant but M C beaton manages to keep most gore away in her Agatha Raisin cozy mysteries.
M C Beaton, now 75 continues spinning these cozy mysteries and just this year at the age of 75, showing no sign of slowing down, she has published an additional Hamish Macbeth story as well as an Agatha Raisin story.