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M. C. Beaton (1936–2019)

Author of Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death

240+ Works 51,958 Members 1,728 Reviews 76 Favorited

About the Author

M. C. Beaton's real name is Marion Chesney. She was born in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1936. She has written over a hundred books under her own name and other pseudonyms: Ann Fairfax, Helen Crampton, Jennie Tremaine, Charlotte Ward, and Sarah Chester. She started her writing career while working as a show more fiction buyer for a bookstore in Glasgow. Working at one time or another as a theater critic, newspaper reporter, and editor, she used her British background to write a series of regency romances set in England and Scotland. Some of her regency romances include The Folly, Colonel Sandhurst to the Rescue, and Regency Gold. In 1986, she was awarded the Romantic Times Award for Outstanding Regency Series Writer. She has also written two mystery series under the pseudonym M. C. Beaton: The Hamish Macbeth Series, which became the inspiration for a television show in England, and The Agatha Raisin Series, about a retired advertising executive. Her title His and Hers made The New York Times Best Seller List for 2012. Marion Chesney passed away on December 31, 2019 at the age of 83. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Disambiguation Notice:

Marion Chesney also writes under the pseudonyms of Ann Fairfax, Jennie Tremaine, Helen Crampton, Charlotte Ward, M. C. Beaton, and Sarah Chester. More of her books are being reedited as Marion Chesney or M. C. Beaton.

Image credit: M.C. Beaton by David Shankbone. 25 September 2006. New York City.


Works by M. C. Beaton

Death of a Gossip (1985) 1,197 copies
Death of a Cad (1987) 924 copies
Death of an Outsider (1988) 854 copies
Death of a Perfect Wife (1989) 839 copies
Death of a Hussy (1990) 790 copies
Death of a Snob (1991) 785 copies
Death of a Prankster (1992) 740 copies
A Highland Christmas (1999) 723 copies
Agatha Raisin and the Witch of Wyckhadden (1999) — Author — 723 copies
Kissing Christmas Goodbye (2007) 713 copies
Death of a Dentist (1997) 713 copies
Death of a Scriptwriter (1998) 708 copies
Death of a Gentle Lady (2008) 704 copies
Death of a Dreamer (2006) 703 copies
Love, Lies and Liquor (2006) 698 copies
The Deadly Dance (2004) 692 copies
Death of a Charming Man (1994) 682 copies
Death of a Maid (2007) 674 copies
Death of a Village (2003) 666 copies
Death of a Celebrity (2002) 656 copies
Death of a Dustman (2001) 654 copies
Death of a Glutton (1993) 654 copies
Death of an Addict (1999) 648 copies
The Perfect Paragon (2005) 644 copies
Death of a Macho Man (1996) 633 copies
Death of a Valentine (2010) 633 copies
Death of a Poison Pen (2004) 628 copies
Death of a Witch (2009) 622 copies
Death of a Travelling Man (1993) 614 copies
Death of a Bore (2005) 612 copies
A Spoonful of Poison (2008) 594 copies
Death of a Chimney Sweep (2011) 592 copies
Death of a Nag (1995) 585 copies
Snobbery with Violence (2003) 577 copies
There Goes the Bride (2009) 551 copies
Busy Body (2010) 548 copies
As the Pig Turns (2011) 504 copies
Death of a Kingfisher (2012) 438 copies
Hiss and Hers (2012) 436 copies
Death of Yesterday (2013) 427 copies
The Skeleton in the Closet (2001) 411 copies
Hasty Death (2004) 384 copies
Death of a Policeman (2014) 379 copies
The Blood of an Englishman (2014) 376 copies
Dishing the Dirt (2015) 337 copies
Death of a Liar (2015) 337 copies
Sick of Shadows (2005) 328 copies
Death of a Nurse (2016) 324 copies
Death of a Ghost (2017) 322 copies
Pushing Up Daisies (2016) 319 copies
Our Lady of Pain (2006) 306 copies
The Witches' Tree (2017) 301 copies
Lady Fortescue Steps Out (1992) 274 copies
The Dead Ringer (2018) 258 copies
Death of an Honest Man (2018) 247 copies
Beating About the Bush (2019) 243 copies
Minerva (1983) 203 copies
Emily Goes to Exeter (1990) 199 copies
Hot to Trot (2020) 179 copies
Miss Tonks Turns to Crime (1993) 176 copies
Agatha's First Case (2015) 163 copies
Belinda Goes to Bath (1991) 161 copies
Down the Hatch (2021) 161 copies
Refining Felicity (1988) 153 copies
The Taming of Annabelle (1983) 133 copies
The Miser of Mayfair (1986) 132 copies
Penelope Goes to Portsmouth (1991) 131 copies
The Banishment (1995) 131 copies
Diana the Huntress (1985) 131 copies
Christmas Crumble (2012) 130 copies
Deirdre and Desire (1984) 126 copies
Deborah Goes to Dover (1992) — Another of author's pseudonyms — 125 copies
Frederica in Fashion (1985) 125 copies
Yvonne Goes to York (1992) 123 copies
Beatrice Goes to Brighton (1991) 116 copies
Daphne (1984) 115 copies
Plain Jane (1986) 113 copies
Mrs. Budley Falls From Grace (1993) 105 copies
Sir Philip's Folly (1993) 105 copies
The Wicked Godmother (1987) 104 copies
Rake's Progress (1987) 93 copies
Devil's Delight (2022) 92 copies
Perfecting Fiona (1989) 92 copies
Animating Maria (1990) 91 copies
Rainbird's Revenge (1988) 89 copies
Back in Society (1994) 87 copies
The Intrigue (1995) 83 copies
The Adventuress (1987) 82 copies
Finessing Clarissa (1989) 81 copies
Enlightening Delilah (1989) 78 copies
Marrying Harriet (1990) 77 copies
The Ghost and Lady Alice (1982) 77 copies
The Original Miss Honeyford (1985) 73 copies
Lady Margery's Intrigues (1980) 73 copies
The Homecoming (1997) 71 copies
The Dreadful Debutante (1994) 71 copies
The Folly (1996) 67 copies
Death of a Traitor (2023) 66 copies
My Dear Duchess (1979) 64 copies
The Romance (1997) 62 copies
The Deception (1996) 61 copies
The Savage Marquess (1988) 59 copies
The Paper Princess (1987) 59 copies
Dead on Target (2023) 59 copies
The Chocolate Debutante (1995) 55 copies
The Scandalous Lady Wright (1990) 53 copies
Knock, Knock, You're Dead! (2016) 51 copies
The Marquis Takes a Bride (1980) 48 copies
Sweet Masquerade (1984) 48 copies
Regency Gold (1980) 47 copies
The Sins of Lady Dacey (1994) 47 copies
The Perfect Gentleman (1988) 46 copies
Miss Davenport's Christmas (1993) 46 copies
The Desirable Duchess (1993) 44 copies
The Constant Companion (1980) 44 copies
Henrietta (1979) 43 copies
The Scandalous Marriage (1991) 43 copies
Penelope (1982) 42 copies
His Lordship's Pleasure (1991) 42 copies
To Dream of Love (1986) 41 copies
Silken Bonds (1989) 40 copies
Agatha Raisin: Hell's Bells (2013) 40 copies
Her Grace's Passion (1991) 40 copies
The Viscount's Revenge (1983) 40 copies
The Flirt (1985) 40 copies
The First Rebellion (1989) 39 copies
Death of a Spy (2024) 38 copies
The Highland Countess (1981) 38 copies
Quadrille (1981) 37 copies
The Love Match (1989) 37 copies
The Westerby Inheritance (1982) 36 copies
A Marriage of Inconvenience (1992) 36 copies
Lady Anne's Deception (1985) 35 copies
Lessons in Love (1987) 35 copies
The Loves of Lord Granton (1996) 35 copies
Lady Lucy's Lover (1983) 34 copies
The Agatha Raisin Companion (2010) 34 copies
Pretty Polly (1988) 34 copies
Milady in Love (1987) 34 copies
The Glitter and the Gold (1993) 34 copies
Annabelle (1980) 34 copies
Kitty (1979) 34 copies
Miss Fiona's Fancy (1987) 33 copies
The Poor Relation (1984) 30 copies
Polly (1980) 29 copies
Tilly (1981) 27 copies
Duke's Diamonds (1982) 27 copies
Ginny (1980) 27 copies
The French Affair (1984) 26 copies
Death of a Laird (2022) 26 copies
A Governess of Distinction (1992) 25 copies
Susie (1981) 24 copies
Daisy (1979) 24 copies
Summertime Splendor (4-in-1) (1992) — Contributor — 23 copies
Poppy (1982) 21 copies
Molly (1980) 21 copies
Sally (1982) 21 copies
Lucy (1980) 19 copies
Agatha Raisin Omnibus (2011) 19 copies
The Westerby Sisters (1983) 18 copies
Maggie (1984) 16 copies
Love and Lady Lovelace (1982) 16 copies
Dancing on the Wind (1988) 15 copies
Amaryllis (2014) 10 copies
The Summer of Discontent (2015) 7 copies
Agatha Raisin, Series 4 (2022) — Creator — 5 copies
The Ladies In Love Series (2020) 5 copies
M. C. Beaton 2 copies
Täiusliku naise surm (2010) 1 copy

Associated Works


Agatha Raisin (1,177) amateur detective (178) audio (463) audiobook (470) British (633) British mystery (304) calibre (189) Cotswolds (393) cozy (750) cozy mystery (1,077) crime (803) crime fiction (321) detective (267) ebook (630) England (581) fiction (3,796) Hamish Macbeth (1,494) Hamish Macbeth Series (242) historical (377) historical fiction (262) historical romance (222) humor (479) Kindle (345) library (193) M.C. Beaton (299) murder (248) murder mystery (243) mysteries (221) mystery (7,037) mystery fiction (372) mystery series (267) novel (335) read (774) Regency (910) Regency romance (250) romance (1,256) Scotland (1,418) series (1,105) to-read (1,954) unread (167)

Common Knowledge

Legal name
Chesney Gibbons, Marion
Other names
Fairfax, Ann (pseudonym)
Tremaine, Jennie (pseudonym)
Crampton, Helen (pseudonym)
Chesney, Marion (maiden name and pseudonym)
Ward, Charlotte (pseudonym)
Beaton, M. C. (pseudonym) (show all 8)
Chester, Sarah (pseudonym)
Beaton, M.C.
Date of death
Glasgow, Scotland, UK
Place of death
Gloucester, Gloucestershire, England, UK
Places of residence
Cotswolds, England, UK
Paris, France
buyer (for bookshop)
theater critic
reporter (newspaper)
Gibbons, Harry Scott (husband)
Short biography
Marion Chesney was a very prolific author, born in 1936 in Glasgow, Scotland. She started her first job as a bookseller in charge of the fiction department in John Smith & Sons Ltd. While bookselling, by chance, she got an offer from the Scottish Daily Mail to review variety shows and quickly rose to be their theatre critic. She left Smith’s to join Scottish Field magazine as a secretary in the advertising department, without any knowledge of shorthand or typing. She quickly got the job of fashion editor instead. She later moved to the Scottish Daily Express, where she reported mostly on crime. This was followed by a move to Fleet Street to the Daily Express where she became chief woman reporter. She married Harry Scott Gibbons, the paper's Middle East Correspondent and had a son, Charles. The family later moved to the United States where Harry had been offered the job of editor of the Oyster Bay Guardian. When that didn’t work out, they went to Virginia, where Marion worked as a waitress in a greasy spoon on the Jefferson Davies in Alexandria while Harry washed the dishes. Both then got jobs on Rupert Murdoch’s new tabloid, The Star, and moved to New York. Anxious to spend more time at home with her small son, Marion began to write historical romances in 1977. Marion wrote over 100 of these historical romances under her maiden name Marion Chesney, and under the pseudonyms: Ann Fairfax, Jennie Tremaine, Helen Crampton, Charlotte Ward, and Sarah Chester. Finally becoming fed up with all eras from 1714 to 1910, she began to write contemporary detectives stories in 1985 under the pseudonym of M. C. Beaton. A trip to Sutherland on holiday and a course at a fishing school inspired the first Constable Hamish Macbeth story. The family later returned to Britain and bought a croft in Sutherland where Harry reared a flock of black sheep and Charles went to school in London. When Charles finished school, they moved to the Cotswolds where Agatha Raisin was created.
Disambiguation notice
Marion Chesney also writes under the pseudonyms of Ann Fairfax, Jennie Tremaine, Helen Crampton, Charlotte Ward, M. C. Beaton, and Sarah Chester. More of her books are being reedited as Marion Chesney or M. C. Beaton.



{third of 34+3 in Agatha Raisin series; detective, murder, village life, Cotswolds, comedy, audiobook, BBC adaptation}(2010)

The Potted Gardener

I enjoyed the TV series of these books with Ashley Jensen and I loved listening to Penelope Keith in the full cast BBC dramatisation of the first two books, so I decided to continue on in the same vein. Ms Keith is back in Carsely playing Agatha Raisin and this time Agatha can't resist taking shortcuts to win the gardening competition. You'd think she would have learned her lesson after the Quiche of Death but after all, as she points out, the judge is hardly going to eat her garden.

But this is Aggie and of course there is a murder; one of the gardeners is, quite literally, potted. So she and her neighbour James Lacey, following very strict orders from Detective Sergeant Bill Wong not to interfere, go ahead and investigate on their own.

Given that the whole audiobook (I think this and The Walkers of Dembley together) is around 2 hours long, I suspect that this dramatisation is an abridged version of the book and some details (like Chivers's - the marmalade cat - name; actually she seems to have two cats in the e-book) have been changed. I guessed who the murderer might be before they were revealed but I don't know if that would have been the case if I had read the book.

The mystery, as I heard it, wasn't the most mysterious but I love listening to Penelope Keith in this role and James is a good foil for Aggie. Her former employee, Roy, is back too. There are some hilarious moments and I'm looking forward to continuing on with The Walkers of Dembley.

(March 2024)
4-4.5 stars (****)

Agatha Raisin and the Walkers of Dembley

{fourth of 34+3 in Agatha Raisin series; detective, murder, mystery, crime, village life, Cotswolds, English countryside, comedy, audiobook, BBC adaptation}(2010)

Another instalment, listening to the lovely voice of Penelope Keith as Agatha. Having skimmed through the e-book of The Potted Gardener (looking for a quote after listening to the audiobook) I've concluded that these dramatisations are probably closer to the television adaptations than to the books themselves - not that I'm complaining.

This time Agatha - with James in tow - is asked to investigate by Sir Charles - for a fee, no less! - and clear his name after a rambler using the right of way over his fields is killed after a run-in with his estate manager. The rambler belonged to a group from a close by village called 'The Walkers of Dembley' so Agatha and James go under cover in a flat (supplied by Sir Charles) as a married couple (there are two beds) in the village and start asking questions.

I thought the mystery was solved rather quickly but I'm having such fun listening to Agatha and James!

(April 2024)
4 stars (****)

Averaging: 4 stars (I love listening to this audio adaptation)
… (more)
humouress | 1 other review | Apr 17, 2024 |
Come for the mystery, stay for the dark comedy.
wandaly | 29 other reviews | Apr 16, 2024 |
Another fun Hamish Macbeth. A bit of a twist on the usual, but enjoyable just the same. I really liked the new narrator, David Monteath. We have become accustomed to Shaun Grindell and Mr Monteath was a change, but a happy one. He had a lovely accent.
njcur | 2 other reviews | Mar 29, 2024 |
Hamish and the Spyhunter
Review of the Hachette / Little Brown audiobook (February 13, 2024) narrated by David Monteath, released simultaneously with the Grand Central Publishing hardcover.

The best element of writer R.W. Green continuation novels of M.C. Beaton's (1936-2019) characters is that both the Hamish Macbeth and the Agatha Raisin series have turned away from the rather nasty tone they had taken towards the end of Beaton's run. Green has at least restored some of the cozy element although the adventures are more elaborate than they used to be.

Death of a Spy follows on from the plotline of last year's Death of a Traitor (Hamish Macbeth #35) with a continued hunt for the rest of the Soviet-era spy ring which had come to light in the previous book. Hamish is assisted by the American agent James Bland, who was introduced in Death of a Green-Eyed Monster (Hamish Macbeth #34). Bland is undercover as a supposed American policeman assigned to study Scotland's policing methods. The narration by David Monteath is then even further skewed from any Scottish burr by having to read half the dialogue in an American accent.

Along the way there is also a local case with various burglaries occurring in the Lochdubh village. Almost all of the regular series cast put in appearances, including Macbeth's nemesis Chief Inspector Blair, who has least backed off from the rather insane plots to either discredit or even murder the beloved village sergeant (those were another nasty course which the Beatons had taken).

Although the series carries on in its timeless fashion, much of the joy of the earlier books is missing. The regulars make their standard contributions of making gibes at Hamish (e.g. the Currie sisters, Angus the Seer, Patricia Halburton-Smythe, Elspeth Grant, the Chief Constable's secretary, etc.) but those are just recycling what we've heard many times before. There is rarely any major character development to spark much interest. Bringing spies into the mix is not a way forward. We need something more homey to restore the cozy roots. It is still a 3 rating though, as I can't dislike the new books as I did Beaton's nasty ones such as #33's Not My Hamish (2018).

The next R.W. Green continuation book will be #35 in the Agatha Raisin series "Killing Time: An Agatha Raisin Mystery", with an expected October 8, 2024 date of publication.
… (more)
alanteder | 2 other reviews | Mar 29, 2024 |



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Dawn Niles Designer
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