Another Author of the Month at MyShelf.Com
Author of the Month
M.C. Beaton [July 2003]
Chosen by Mary Lynn, author of Dear Cari.
Ever since I picked up Death of Macho Man in a second hand bookstore, I've been an M C Beaton fan. I immediately fell in love with Hamish Macbeth (the highland police officer) from Death of Macho Man and immediately began to collect the other Hamish Macbeth mystery titles. Then I picked up Agatha Raisin and The Derby Walkers in a second hand bookstore and fell in love with a second Beaton series character. I have since read all the Agatha Raisin cozy mysteries written by M C Beaton.
M C is my choice as author of the month because she has a style and wit that I find totally engrossing. Not only does she write two mystery series that I love (book after book), but she manages to keep coming up with intriguing and engrossing mysteries for each series. To make each series totally addictive, there's usually some sub plot that generally makes me laugh out loud or at the very least smile broadly. Each series is completely different and yet I love them both, although I have to give a slight edge to the Macbeth series. After each book in both series, I eagerly await the next one.
M.C. Beaton also writes under the pseudonyms Marion Chesney, Sarah Chester, Helen Crampton, Ann Fairfax, Marion Gibbons, Jennie Tremaine, and Charlotte Ward
In Death of a Village, Highland Police Officer Hamish MacBeth almost has more trouble than he can handle. Something is terribly wrong in the remote fishing village of Stoyre. The people are behaving strangely and are more inhospitable than usual, but when questioned, refuse to admit anything is wrong. When a holiday cottage is blown up, the locals call it an act of God and refuse to help in any way. Later, when an old woman is frightened to death no one will admit to knowing anything. Back at home in Lochdubh, a wife beater disappears and a young child is missing. When Hamish returns to Stoyre after solving those mysteries, two attempts are made on his life.
I have read and enjoyed so many Hamish MacBeth Mysteries that reading Death of A Village felt like a visit with old friends. In this series, M C Beaton has managed to create an entire village of people that I feel as if I know. Along with Hamish, who is my favorite literary sleuth, I always look forward to seeing villagers such as Angela, Archie, Willie, and newcomer Elspeth.
As usual, M C Beaton has managed to skillfully blend an intriguing and complex mystery with a sense of humor that is totally addicting. Her easy, warm style continues to breathe life into the people of Lochdubh. I always begin reading an M C Beaton mystery with high hopes, expecting to be entertained and amused. In Death of a Village, she does both. I can highly recommend Death of a Village for those seeking an engrossing and thoroughly enjoyable mystery.
Death Of A Celebrity
Reviewed by Mary Lynn, MyShelf.Com
When the small Scottish village of Lochdubh becomes the focus of a scandal-seeking television entertainment hostess from Strathbane, it both irritates and fascinates the village policeman, Hamish Macbeth. When the ruthless hostess begins digging up old dirt, it's no surprise when she's soon found dead in Hamish's close-knit village.
Hamish's superiors are eager to term her dead a suicide, but Hamish is not so sure. The list of suspects is long and includes the producer whose show was displaced, the men having affairs with the dead personality, a local reporter who hinted at the woman's death in her horoscope column, and even Hamish himself, who had a run-in with the woman. Hamish quickly sets his sights on a suspect. But when another murder follows, he's left scrambling for clues.
In this outing, Hamish learns that his former fiancée, Priscilla, has become engaged. To counter that news somewhat, Espeth Grant, a new character and possible love interest for Hamish, is introduced.
In some of the previous Macbeth Mysteries, I've figured out "who done it" early on and just read on because I'd become so fond of the characters, but this mystery kept me guessing. At the same time, the solution didn't come out of the blue or leave me feeling as if I'd been cheated when the killer was revealed. There's an engaging twist at the end that left me laughing so hard, I was nearly in tears.
As usual, the author's engaging style kept me turning the pages until there were none left. Although I've read every Hamish Macbeth mystery published, this series has lost none of its charm for me. I continue to be enthralled by Hamish and the various inhabitants of this delightful northwest Highland village. I eagerly look forward to the further exploits of Hamish MacBeth.
Death of a Dustman
Reviewed by Mary Lynn, MyShelf.com
In Death of a Dustman, Hamish Macbeth, once again promoted to the rank of sergeant, soon finds himself in the midst of murder, when the local trash collector, Fergus Macleod is found dead in one of his own trash receptacles.
To Hamish's dismay, the dustman had managed to alienate nearly everyone in the village and no one seems eager to help Hamish ferret out the murder. In fact, letters Hamish has in his possession convince him the villagers he's trying to protect are hiding something from him. When another man is murdered, Hamish wonders if his own inaction might somehow be responsible. To make matters worst, Hamish's new constable is more interested in cooking than he is in police work. What's a poor Highland Police Officer to do?
Death of a Dustman was the 17th Hamish Macbeth mystery I'd read, so I was delighted to find the same wonderful combination of suspense, comedy, and loyalty that are the hallmarks of every Hamish Macbeth mystery. I was as enchanted with Death of a Dustman as I was with my first Macbeth mystery, Death of Macho Man. This series continues to captivate me and I eagerly look forward to the next Macbeth mystery.
and the Case of the Curious Curate
Reviewed by Mary Lynn, MyShelf.com
In Agatha Raisin and the Case of the Curious Curate, Agatha is still recovering from her disastrous marriage to James Lacey. Having sworn off men for life, Agatha greets the news that Carsley is to get a new curate with little interest—until she meets the beautiful, blue-eyed, and golden haired curate. She's delighted when the handsome young man invites her to his room for an intimate dinner that culminates with a warm kiss and a promise of another meeting. Unfortunately, the curate is found murdered the next morning and the vicar, Mr. Bloxby, is the prime suspect. Distressed on her friend's behalf, Agatha, along with her new neighbor, John Armitage, sets out to clear the vicar's name.
It doesn't take Agatha long to realize that the curate was far from godly and had questionable dealings with several women in Carsley and surrounding villages. Before long, one of those women is murdered. And then another. For one of the few times in the series, Agatha considers backing off and allowing the police to find the murderer. But when she herself in attacked, she realizes she's left it too long. Is she about to become the murder's fourth victim?
The Case of the Curious Curate was an absolute delight. It started with a bang and moved swiftly along. It seemed Agatha and John were tripping over bodies every other chapter. Agatha was as thin-skinned and as eager for approval as ever. I was so totally engrossed in the story that I found it impossible to put down for long. I read it in one evening, staying up late to finish. The mystery was multi-layered and kept me guessing. Just when I thought I had a handle on who had turned the normally quiet village of Carsely into the murder capital of the Cotswold, M C Beaton threw a surprising and pleasing curve ball that I thoroughly enjoyed.
My only complaint is that I was hoping to find some hint of what became of James. It would also have been nice to see something of Agatha's friend Sir Charles. But those were very minor complaints and I found the latest book in the series to be a totally satisfying read. Agatha Raisin and the Walkers of Dembley got me hooked on this series, and The Case of the Curious Curate kept me hooked and longing for more. I wait in eager anticipation for the release of the next Agatha Raisin mystery.
And The Love From Hell
Reviewed by Mary Lynn, MyShelf.com
In Agatha Raisin And The Love From Hell, after a honeymoon consisting of sightseeing and sex, Agatha and her new husband, James Lacey, return to their home in the English village of Carsley in the Cotswolds.
But married life is far from blissful. They keep separate cottages and a series of misunderstandings creates friction between the two newlyweds. Soon Agatha’s one time lover and friend, Sir Charles Fraith, arrives and James is soon seemingly involved with a divorced woman. Agatha finds James at the local pub with another woman and threatens to kill them both in front of many witnesses. Shortly thereafter, James disappears, leaving behind evidence of a struggle and blood in his cottage. Agatha becomes the prime suspect.
Accompanied by Charles, Agatha sets out to clear her name and find James. She decides to start with the woman James was apparently having an affair with, Melissa. When Melissa is found dead, the police learn that James was heard threatening her. Agatha, though devastated that James had apparently been unfaithful, is determined to find him and clear both their names.
Although I enjoyed this book, some who have not followed the series closely, or who pick it up as their first Agatha Raisin mystery, might find it a slow, painstaking read. The Love From Hell is a definite slow starter and tends to prod along. Even careful readers might feel as if they weren't given enough clues to arrive at a whodunit solution before Agatha does and might feel a little cheated.
The Love From Hell was the eleventh Agatha Raisin mystery I've read. As with the Hamish Macbeth mystery series, it was nice to "see" some of the regular in this book, such as James Lacey, Sir Charles, and Mrs. Bloxby, the vicar's wife. I believe that I will always enjoy picking up an Agatha Raisin mystery. I am eagerly awaiting the next book.
2003's Honorary List