Fans of murder mysteries know that detectives come in all shapes and sizes, writes Tony Spittles.
Many authors make sure their sleuths stay on the printed page, others are happy to see their crimefighters transferred to new duties on TV or the big screen.
That’s the case with prolific writer M. C. Beaton whose two major characters have seen the mid-1990s BBC1 series featuring offbeat cop Hamish Macbeth put north-west Scotland on the TV map, while south of the border crime in the Cotswolds has been sorted out thanks to Agatha Raisin.
Fans of the novels will know that Ms Raisin is short and shady, but the recent eight-part series on Sky 1, now out on DVD this week, sees her in a new light with blonde bombshell Ashley Jensen (Extras and Ugly Betty) giving an energetic and enjoyable edge to the busy London PR turned private investigator.
Helping, and sometimes hindering, Agatha as she turns her back on life in the capital for a new life in the tiny Cotswolds village of Carsely (in reality Biddlestone in Wiltshire) are a host of familiar faces.
They include a return of Gavin & Stacey’s Matthew Horne (Bad Education) as her best friend, Roy; Katy Wix (Not Going Out and The Windsors) as her giddy cleaner, Gemma, and Jamie Glover (Waterloo Road and Holby City) as Agatha’s on-off love interest.
However, Agatha’s planned-for quieter life in Carsely is anything but, as shown in the recent eight-part series on Sky1, which started with an adaptation of The Walkers of Dembley. Investigations continued apace with the death of a bell-ringer, then the chairman of the local parish council, the discovery of a barbed-tongued woman upside down in a huge pot, as well as the demise of the local vet the day after going out on a date with Agatha.
Quiet village life seemed to elude Agatha for the rest of the series as she had to uncover a conspiracy surrounding a bride’s death, getting involved with some spooky goings-on after she finds the body of a local witch, and then becoming the chief suspect in the case when her first husband is found dead.
These eight cases, plus the original full-length Christmas special from 2014, Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death, are now neatly packaged on a double DVD and available on RLJ Entertainment’s label, price £24.99. There are also three bonus features - Agatha is Back, From PR to PI - and a picture gallery.