Happy New Year to everyone. We begin the Roaring ’20s with some sad news: M.C. Beaton, whose real name was Marion Chesney, has died at the age of 83.
She left this world on the 31st December 2019, meaning she never even got to see the dawn of a new decade.
The prolific author has written a wide range of crime fiction books, mostly Golden Age style police procedurals or private eye tales. She also wrote romance novels, which, alongside some of her crime writing, were written in historical periods. Using a number of pseudonyms, of which M.C. Beaton was just one, she wrote many books, some of which topped global bestseller lists.
Her two renowned detectives were Scottish policeman Hamish Macbeth and private detective Agatha Raisin. She also wrote standalone mystery novels and a series of Edwardian crime novels.
Both Macbeth and Raisin are revered among crime fiction readers, and have become cult thanks to TV adaptations and their vast number of appearances in Chesney’s books.
I’m not going to pretend that I enjoyed her work: I’ve written about my dislike of her Agatha Raisin novels in detail previously, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t respect Chesney as a writer.
After all, over the years she wrote hundreds of books, many of which sold millions of copies. Her work was translated into many other languages and her characters will live on for many more years.
Her books have influenced the crime fiction genre and will remain a staple of the market. The TV shows of her books are still being created, and doubtless her works will continue to inspire other writers in creating new characters and narratives that’ll drive the crime fiction market forward.
Her other works, which include historical mysteries and other books, will also remain staples of their respective genres. As well as being a writer Chesney also had a loving family, and was a grandmother. She had a great many passions and interests, all of which shaped her writing.
Chesney’s books might not have been something I enjoyed, but they were completely fearless. I might not have liked reading her work but I definitely admired her bravery and her dedication to proving that women could be just as dangerous and daring as any man.
In all, whilst they may not be everyone’s favourites, there’s no hiding from the fact that Marion Chesney’s writing will remain an inspiration and a reference point for writers and readers over the years to come, and that they have already shaped, and will continue to influence, the crime fiction space.