Welcome to Monday Murder Mystery where we gather each week to talk about mysteries. Discussion of all mysteries is welcome, not just those involving murder; and all genres of mysteries are welcome, be they the coziest of the cozy style or the most cold blooded of the police procedurals.
Diarists are invited to share any book, series, author or mystery genre. If you would like to contribute, please include your subject and date in the comments, or send a private message to Susan from 29.
Because it is hard to discuss a mystery without revealing the ending, please use the comment section for that discussion, with the word "Spoiler" prominent in the topic line. Those who don't want to know the ending can set their Comment Preference to SHRINK and individually expand those comments without the warning.
My grandparents were from Scotland. He was born in Glasgow, spent some years in Australia where his father died, of “fatigue.” His mother took the boys back to Glasgow where she married a boarder in her house and immigrated to the States. My grandfather did not get along with his stepfather and at 13 ran away to join the Merchant Marine, returning again to Scotland and joining the Black Watch at the start of the Great War.
She was an Edinburgh lass who learned the Gaelic in school, as well as knitting, cooking and sewing. Her family had been lead miners in Wanlockhead before moving to the Linlithgow area and mining shale. As an NCO in the British Army during WWI, my grandmother was in charge of feeding the young recruits at Fort George in Scotland. My grandparents married at the end of the war and with a new son (my uncle), and her sisters and brother, moved to the States and settled in Chicago. They all lived within blocks of each other.
Blue collar workers, they always gathered for holidays at my grandmother’s dinner table. Often for Sunday dinner as well. I grew up with the sound of Scottish accents and laughter and songs. These were not the Calvinist Scots of which so much has been written. On the contrary, I’ll never forget the long pause and passed looks when as a young girl, I innocently asked my grandparents, "What religion are you?" Although I had never seen either one set foot in a church, during the cold war 50s, everyone belonged to some church, so they would not be mistaken for Godless Commies. After that long silence my grandmother said, “Well, we’re Presbyterians, I guess.” (I think they were Godless Commies myself, after all, he was the shop steward at work)
My grandfather’s family came from a small fishing village on the Moray Firth above Inverness on the Black Isle. They were all fishermen, sailors or ship builders until my great-grandfather became a tailor and left the area with his brothers. The village itself, Avoch (pronounced Ock - imagine a German cat coughing up a hairball), is a pretty place of small streets and shops. The taxi driver in Inverness, hearing my maiden name nodded and said “Aye, Avoch.” Certain names are connected to certain places in the Highlands and our name is tied to that village. It reminded me a bit of Lochduhb, although it is located on the North Sea rather than an inland lake.
Reading A Highland Christmas was like a holiday journey home for me. But it was to a home that could only exist in a dream. Or in a novel by M.C. Beaton.
Hamish Macbeth is the policeman of the tiny village of Lochdubh in the Scottish Highlands. Think of a young Jimmy Stewart with red hair and you may get close to this adorable, somewhat awkward and superficially lazy Scot. Contented as a village bobby, Hamish has no desire for any advancement that would take him from his ready source of poached trout and salmon.
A Christmas spent amidst the dour Scots who cling to the teachings of John Knox looks to be a bleak one for Hamish. He will be alone this year while his family enjoys a holiday in Florida thanks to a winning slogan that his mother submitted for an advertising campaign.
The highlands of Scotland only receive a few hours of daylight during the winter, so the theft of the Christmas lights of the neighboring town of Cnothan, as well as that town’s Christmas tree is a serious concern. The suspects range from teenage vandals to strict religious fundamentalists. Hamish’s job, in the absence of Cnothan’s constable, is to find them. In addition he also has to find a missing cat belonging to the meanest old lady in his own town of Lochdubh.
Throw in a little romance, a little Christmas music at an old folks’ home, a road trip in a VW bus with cozy chintz seat covers and you have the perfect blend of a frothy sweet cozy to finish off a heavy holiday meal. Fans of the Hamish Macbeth series will recognize the residents of Lochdubh as they make their appearances in this holiday novella. Those new to the series will hopefully want to try some of the other cozies, none of which are quite this sweet.
But it is, after all, a holiday tale and just like Aunt Gail’s Spiced Rum Egg Nog, it is seasonally appealing.
Other novels in the Hamish Macbeth series are:
Death of a Gossip (1985)
Death of a Cad (1987)
Death of an Outsider (1988)
Death of a Perfect Wife (1989)
Death of a Hussy (1991)
Death of a Snob (1992)
Death of a Prankster (1992)
Death of a Glutton (1993)
Death of a Travelling Man (1993)
Death of a Charming Man (1994)
Death of a Nag (1995)
Death of a Macho Man (1996)
Death of a Dentist (1997)
Death of a Scriptwriter (1998)
Death of an Addict (1999)
A Highland Christmas (1999)
Death of a Dustman (2001)
Death of a Celebrity (2002)
Death of a Village (2003)
Death of a Poison Pen (2004)
Death of a Bore (2005)
Death of a Dreamer (2006)
Death of a Maid (2007)
Death of a Gentle Lady (2008)
Death of a Witch (2009)
Death of a Valentine (2010)
Death of a Sweep (2011)
Death of a Kingfisher (2012)
M.C. Beaton is the name under which Marion Chesney writes her mystery novels. Under her own name, and other pseudonyms, she has written over a hundred historical Regency romances and Edwardian mysteries. In the States she is best known for her Hamish Macbeth and Agatha Raisin mysteries.
She was born in Scotland in 1936 and has always worked with words, first in a bookshop in Glasgow and then as a journalist in Scotland and London. Her husband, Henry, took a job in Oyster Bay, Florida, and they spent some time in the United States that included a brief stint waiting tables and washing dishes in Virginia and writing for The Star - yes, the Rupert Murdoch tabloid - before returning to the UK and buying a sheep croft in Sutherland, Scotland. Although it provided the perfect setting for Hamish Macbeth’s adventures, Marion (“I have pavement for bones,”) Chesney was never really comfortable isolated up in Scotland, especially when their son was in school in London, so they moved to the Cotswolds where she invented Agatha Raisin.
As Marion Chesney she has written a series of four Edwardian mysteries which she had to put aside due to the popularity of the MacBeth and Raisin series. Is anyone familiar with these? I've long enjoyed her tales of Scotland, and a couple of the early Cotswold novels, but I haven't read any of her novels in this series.
Snobbery with Violence(2003)
Hasty Death (2004)
Sick of Shadows (2005)
Our Lady of Pain(2006)
As M.C. Beaton she has written these cozy mysteries starring the irascible retired PR agent, Agatha Raisin, who has relocated from London to the Cotswold town of Carsely. She is an interesting character who will never be mistaken for Jane Marple or Jessica Fletcher.
Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death (1992)
Agatha Raisin and the Vicious Vet (1993)
Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener (1994)
Agatha Raisin and the Walkers of Dembley(1995)
Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage(1996)
Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist (1997)
Agatha Raisin and the Wellspring of Death(1998)
Agatha Raisin and the Wizard of Evesham(1999)
Agatha Raisin and the Witch of Wyckhadden(1999)
Agatha Raisin and the Fairies of Fryfam (2000)
Agatha Raisin and the Love from Hell (2001)
Agatha Raisin and the Day the Floods Came(2002)
Agatha Raisin and the Case of the Curious Curate (2003)
Agatha Raisin and the Haunted House (2003)
Agatha Raisin and the Deadly Dance (2004)
Agatha Raisin and the Perfect Paragon (2005)
Agatha Raisin and Love, Lies and Liquor (2006)
Agatha Raisin and Kissing Christmas Goodbye(2007)
Agatha Raisin and a Spoonful of Poison (2008)
Agatha Raisin: There Goes The Bride (2009)
Agatha Raisin and the Busy Body (2010)
The Agatha Raisin Companion (2010)
As the Pig Turns (2011)