Hamish Macbeth author MC Beaton dies, aged 83

By Laura Paterson, PA Scotland

The author of detective series featuring Hamish Macbeth and Agatha Raisin has died, aged 83.

Marion Chesney Gibbons, who wrote under the pen name MC Beaton, was an international best-seller whose books were translated into 17 languages.

Her fictional detectives both made it to the small screen, with Robert Carlyle playing Hamish Macbeth in the self-titled BBC series and Ashley Jensen starring as Agatha Raisin on Sky.

The cast of the Hamish Macbeth BBC TV series (PA)

Her son Charles Gibbons announced her death on Twitter, saying it had followed a “brief illness”.

He added: “Author of over 160 novels in her prolific 40-year career, this news will sadden many of her readers almost as much as it has her family and friends.

“The support of her fans and the success she enjoyed in later years were a source of great pride and satisfaction to her, and for that I will be eternally grateful.”

Born in Glasgow in 1936, her first job was as a bookseller before becoming theatre critic for the Scottish Daily Mail.

Her newspaper career took her to Fleet Street, where she was the chief woman reporter on the Daily Express, before she moved to the US with her husband Harry Scott Gibbons.

The couple secured jobs on Rupert Murdoch’s new tabloid The Star but she then took up writing regency romances to be able to spend more time at home with her infant son, later turning to detective fiction.

A trip to Sutherland inspired the first Hamish Macbeth story – which follows an unambitious policeman in a Highland village – and the family bought a croft in the area, later moving to the Cotswolds, where Agatha Raisin is set.