Thursday, October 24, 2013

Thriller writers

Do you know or have you heard of M.C.Beaton? It would seem the good lady has written, under her own name or using nom de plumes, enough books to stock a library, well furnish a shelf anyway. Firstly there is her Scottish policeman cum detective Hamish Macbeth series, each one titled “Death of a…” and I see listed 28 volumes. Then there is the “Agatha Raisin” series, 21 volumes, “The Travelling Matchmaker Series,” 6 volumes, and “The Edwardian Murder Mysteries,” 4 volumes, and more. Now what makes one author, Agatha Christie, a world famous name instantly recognisable and another like M.C.Beaton not so well known despite her books having been sold by the millions and evidently being the third most favourite borrower from libraries. Until friends gave us two of her books last week I had never heard of M.C.Beaton. But then I had never heard of Dick Francis, a steeplechase jockey who died in 2010 at the age of 98 and who has more than forty crime thrillers to his credit. The fact is there are thousands and thousands of authors and you couldn’t possibly keep up with more than a few. I believe in Iceland they reckon one in ten of the population will write a book. So there are millions and millions of books in circulation and new ones being added every week but very few of them are going to hit the bestseller list. However back to our two ladies. What makes one name universally known and not the other? I have just read one of Beaton’s Hamish Macbeth stories and a short murder mystery by Christie and for my money Beaton pips Christie at the post if not by a head. It is invidious I suppose to make comparisons after only one example and maybe one ought to take into account the publication date of the Christie which is 1937, this probably being the reason why dialogue sounds stilted and phrases a little archaic. I doubt either lady would claim their work to be high art or of great literary value. They are both story tellers and good ones at that. There’s no putting the book down and picking it up again with reluctance. Just a jolly good read or, in earlier parlance, “a ripping yarn.” And the same applies to my Thornton King series. Read them in an aeroplane, on a train journey or take them to the beach.

A couple in Paraguay have recently got married having been together for eighty years. Evidently they had a civil ceremony back in 1933 but now they decided it was time for a religious one. The groom is 103 and the blushing bride a mere stripling at 99. Thy have 50 grandchildren, 35 great grand children and 20 great-great grand children and that is how the world population explodes. But… it could only happen in America! A new fad for baby showers, vagina cakes! The cakes are in various designs all representing the vagina and each has a baby’s head emerging. As I said, only in America.  Yuk!

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