If you’re an Anglophile eager for an armchair trip to England, the Agatha Raisin Mysteries may be just the ticket. Written by prolific cozy author M. C. Beaton (who also pens romances under her real name, Marion Chesney), the Agatha Raisin cozies exemplify what I consider to be the necessary attributes of the genre:
An enviable location. The Cotswolds region is justifiably famous for its grassland, its golden stone (see the photo above) and its lovely thatched roof cottages. It’s also some of the most expensive and desirable real estate in the world, with home prices sometimes ten times the cost of similar square footage in London. A mere two-bedroom flat can go for as much as half a million pounds–about one million USD. Clearly, reading about Agatha Raisin and life in her charming village is the easiest way to experience life in this part of the UK.
Nutty characters. Often in a mystery series, the lead character is an island of sanity in a sea of amusing eccentrics. However, Agatha herself is both the amateur sleuth and the chief eccentric. Fiftyish, prone to saying the wrong thing, and always on the lookout for love, Agatha careens from one case to the next. Fortunately, the corpse always belongs to someone who wasn’t very nice, and the culprit isn’t exactly Moriarty, so the reader can relax as Agatha prevails.
A dose of humor. The Agatha Raisin series never takes itself too seriously. In book #1, Agatha arrives in the Cotswolds after taking early retirement from her successful advertising career. Upon learning of a cookery contest, she decides to buy a supermarket quiche and pass it off as her own, thus hoodwinking the locals and gaining their admiration. Unfortunately, the quiche is poisoned, someone dies, and Agatha must solve the case to repair her reputation, or be forever an outcast in her new home.