I did some reader’s advisory at the library recently for a patron who was looking for something like Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple mysteries, so I thought I would share it here, especially since I’ve been on an Agatha Christie kick lately. I’ve been trying to figure out what I have read and what I haven’t, which involves reading a lot of Agatha Christies, sometimes unknowingly (at first) for the second time.
The patron was looking for something set in an English village (she really enjoyed books set in England – setting was very important); a cozy mystery, not graphic or racy; something light in tone, humourous. She mentioned the Miss Marple mysteries by Agatha Christie specifically. I did some research and this is what I came up with. They are all set in rural England and English villages. They are such blood-thirsty places! I haven’t read many of these authors, but I think I might give them a try.
- Ann Granger – Writes several series, two of which are set in rural England, the Mitchell and Markby series (first title: Say It With Poison) and the Campbell and Carter series, set in the Cotswolds (first title: Mud, Muck, and Dead Things).
- Hazel Holt – Her sleuth is the Mrs. Shelia Malory, a reluctant amateur sleuth. (First title: Mrs. Malory Investigates).
- Robert Barnard – Series features Detective Charlie Peace in West Yorkshire. (First title: Death and the Chaste Apprentice).
- Catherine Aird – Writes a series set in rural England featuring C. D. Sloan, who finds himself investigating crimes among interesting groups. (First title: The Religious Body).
- M. C. Beaton – Writes two series, one set in the Cotswolds featuring Agatha Raisin (first title: The Quiche of Death), and the other set in Scotland, with Hamish MacBeth (first title: Death of a Gossip).
- Caroline Graham – Her mysteries follow C. I. Barnaby (first title: The Killings at Badger’s Drift).
- Charles Hampton/Hamilton Crane/Heron Carvic – All three authors contributed to the series about Miss Seeton, a retired art teacher, who is a bit like Miss Marple. (First title: Picture Miss Seeton).
- G. M. Galliet – Her mysteries feature Max Tudor, who thought he left crime behind in the city but finds that is not the case (first title: Wicked Autumn).
- John Sherwood – Write the Celia Grant series. Celia is a horticulturalist. (First title: Green Thumb Trigger.)
- Nancy Atherton – Her Aunt Dimity series is little more on the kooky side. One of the detectives, Aunt Dimity, is a ghost. (First title: Aunt Dimity’s Death).
I haven’t provided a tonne of information but hopefully it’s enough for people to find books and give them a try. You can glean some information from the descriptions though. Is the title humourous? Is it serious? What type of detective is it – amateur or police? Is the detectives name quirky or down-to-earth? All these things give us little clues to the author’s intentions. We could categorize books according to detective:
Police – Campbell and Carter (Granger), Charlie Peace (Barnard), Sloan (Aird), Hamish MacBeth (Beaton) and Barnaby (Graham).
Amateurs – Shelia Malory (Holt), Agatha Raisin (Beaton), Miss Seeton (Carvic, etc.), Celia Grant (Sherwood), and Aunt Dimity (Atherton).
Professional/Amateur mix – Mitchell and Markby (Granger) and Max Tudor (retired MI5).
I have to say, when it comes to names, I like Granger’s use of alliteration but I still think Hamish MacBeth is the best name, followed closely by Aunt DImity.
Anyway, some cozy-ish mysteries to consider!