M.C. Beaton is a beloved, prolific Scottish writer in the cozy mystery and Regency romance genres. She wrote 100 historical romances under her maiden name, Marion Chesney (and various pen names), before jumping over to crime novels. And thank goodness she did. Her mysteries—especially the Agatha Raisin and Hamish Macbeth series—are a hit. But don’t worry, there’s a healthy dose of romance even in her mysteries. Here are the 10 best M.C. Beaton mysteries, according to Goodreads ratings.
Average Rating: 3.74
Agatha Raisin's story begins simply: She gives up her PR firm and moves to a quiet village, where she enters a local baking contest. Her quiche is, well, to die for. The judge snubs her entry and then, uh, falls over dead. Turns out Agatha's secret ingredient is poison. But even worse: She bought her pie from a quicherie. She starts receiving sinister notes but is unsure if they're related to her cheating, or a threat related to the suspicious death. And she's going to find out.
Average Rating: 3.71
Hamish Macbeth, Scottish highland village cop, is put on the case of finding out who killed local widow and gossip columnist Jane Winters. Surely it was someone whose secrets were revealed in her work, right? But that could be so many people. Macbeth and Priscilla Halburton-Smythe work together to find just who was provoked enough to strangle and drown the loathed reporter.
Average Rating: 3.73
Agatha Raisin's story continues with another strange death in her quiet retirement community. A handsome vet accidentally kills himself while attending to a horse. But never fear, Agatha and her attractive neighbor will get to the bottom of the case. Or at least they'll get to spend some time together.
Average Rating: 3.76
After some time away from her cozy Cotswold village, Agatha Raisin returns to find yet another murder has occurred, and she and her handsome neighbor are back to crime-solving. The victim? A hiker whose hiking club bothered some wealthy landowners about the right to hike across their properties.
Average Rating: 3.79
When Agatha Raisin finds a new woman getting friendly with her handsome neighbor, she springs into action. The beautiful woman is a skilled gardener, and Agatha crosses her fingers for a new murder to crop up so she and her neighbor can go back to solving crimes. And then, what do you know, the town's finest gardens are destroyed and someone is murdered. And Agatha gets to digging.
Average Rating: 3.81
This time, Agatha Raisin's world gets a little too close to murder. At her wedding to that handsome neighbor, her ex-husband Jimmy shows up to stop the ceremony. Later, he's found strangled. Agatha and her beloved have to prove their innocence amid clanging wedding bells.
Average Rating: 3.82
Hamish Macbeth's crime-solving partner, Priscilla Halburton-Smythe, brings her fiancé home to the Scottish highlands for an engagement party where someone ends up dead. The victim, vile Captain Bartlett, had many enemies, and most of the party's guests are suspects in his murder. Macbeth works to solve the case before Priscilla ends up in a miserable marriage—or dead.
Average Rating: 3.83
Hamish Macbeth is exiled with his dog to a dreary Scottish town, where the most hated man was dumped into a lobster tank. Macbeth has to fight his superiors, who want the case hushed up, and the killer, who's out for blood.
Average Rating: 3.75
When Agatha dyes her own hair and ruins it, she heads to see the new hairdresser in a neighboring town to work some magic. But he isn't quite what Agatha expects. He's charming and tries to woo her, and according to some good ol' town gossip, his former clients fear him. And then (of course) there's a murder at the salon, and Agatha gets to work untangling the truth.
Average Rating: 3.72
Our friendly neighborhood sleuth, Agatha Raisin, stumbles upon a body in the town's natural spring. And who else is it but the council chairman, the only member on the fence about allowing the local water company to tap into the spring? Agatha has to work amid muddled politicians talk to find out who killed the chairman.
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Ashley Holstrom is a book person, designing them and writing about them for Book Riot. She lives near Chicago with her cat named after Hemingway and her bookshelves organized by color. She can be tweeted at @alholstrom.