Tag Archives: MC Beaton

Bloody 2016 Scotland Programme

Bloody Scotland programme makers have this terrible habit of putting really interesting events on early in the morning. I mean, I will obviously have to get out of bed for Josephine Tey on the morning of September 10th, but how to last until the end of the day? Regrettably they won’t have the real Josephine Tey, but Val McDermid talking about her is good enough for me.

And from there the rest of the programme goes on and on with tempting combinations of topics and crime writers. There are the really famous names, and then there are the authors I’ve barely heard of. I ought to pick a row of sessions of new-to-me writers for the simple reason that new can mean tremendously exciting discoveries.

But then we have the old favourites. What to do about them? Scotland the Grave, and MC Beaton?

This year’s Bloody Scotland was launched in Stirling on Wednesday, and down south the following day, and being away I was unable to go to either. I shall have to give up holidays.

BBC presenter Theresa Talbot has a debut crime novel to introduce, and England and Scotland have a football score to settle. By how many goals will Scotland beat the English?

Stuart Neville returns to Stirling, as does super-scary Helen Fitzgerald. I am very keen to hear Erwin James talk to Martina Cole, which sounds like a fascinating event. Author crime quiz or Nicci French? How can you possibly choose?

The Curly Coo pub on a Saturday night, followed by a competitive measuring of the relative tartan-ness of people’s noir. Orkney or Northern Lights? Yrsa Sigurðardóttir is back, and with her are Agnes Ravatn and Erik Axl Sund. James Oswald. Craig Robertson. And finishing the weekend with Ian Rankin and Quintin Jardine.

Raisin’ the standard

Is there anyone out there who reads Agatha Raisin by MC Beaton? If so, why?

I own half a dozen of her Hamish MacBeth novels, and I enjoyed every single one. As far as I recall, they were light and amusing reads, a little tongue-in-cheek, but in just the right way. The television series was also great fun, if somewhat messed about with.

Then I stopped reading them, because other books turned up, and when I saw the Agatha Raisin series I felt no need to read it, but assumed it was similar in style. There Goes the Bride came my way recently, and it looked fun and the title is witty, so I took it with me on holiday, looking forward to reading an Agatha Raisin at last.

Lasted half a chapter, but made myself finish chapter one, just to make sure. Leafed through the remaining book to see if it looked the same throughout. Then got out a couple of Hamishes to see if they still looked as readable as they once were. They did.

So I may have become less tolerant of vaguely bad books, but am no snob. But it has to be a good bad book, if you know what I mean? With There Goes the Bride I couldn’t understand if the badness was intentional. I somehow doubt it.

Obviously I started on the series a long way in, and some confusion is to be expected. I feel the language should at least be level with a Mills & Boon. What happened? I see on Wikipedia that MC Beaton writes a fair number of books per year, but not so many as to make skimping like this essential.

Did I miss something? Maybe dear Agatha is the coolest of cool, poking fun at all sorts of genres in a very subtle way which is totally beyond me.

I once came across a really dreadful, but successful, romance writer, whose name I have mercifully forgotten. She wrote a chapter in a how-to book on romance writing, saying how getting her books published had nothing to do with already being a ‘name’. To prove it she sent one book in anonymously, and it was refused. She then sent it in under her own name and it was received with the normal fanfares. Somehow she felt this proved her point.

I’m still trying to understand how it could. Now I’m wondering if Agatha Raisin is another case of something continuing under its own momentum.

Or, I just missed the point. Again.