Marion Chesney, a.k.a. Mystery Writer M.C. Beaton, Dies at 83

In 1969 Ms. Chesney married Harry Scott Gibbons, a journalist whose work led the couple to move to the United States. She was a fan of Georgette Heyer’s romances set in the Regency period of British history, and when she complained to her husband that Heyer’s many imitators often bungled the historical facts and generally wrote poorly, he challenged her to write a novel herself.

The first, “Regency Gold,” was published under the pen name Jennie Tremaine. She wrote more than 100 romances under that name, her own and other pseudonyms, including Ann Fairfax, Helen Crampton and Charlotte Ward. In recent interviews she acknowledged that she had lost count of how many books she had written, though she estimated that it was at least 160.

“As an ex-reporter I write very quickly,” she told the online magazine Shots, “and there are always ideas all about, like what people say, stories in the newspapers, or, in the case of Agatha, an ongoing irritation with political correctness.”

Agatha was brusque and in some ways unlikable, whereas Hamish was laid back. Both often found their insular small towns disrupted from without.

“Outsiders always spell trouble for the inbred societies that Beaton observes with such cynical humor,” Marilyn Stasio wrote in The New York Times in 1998, comparing “Death of a Scriptwriter,” a Hamish Macbeth mystery, and “Agatha Raisin and the Wellspring of Death,” both of which had recently been published. “If these strangers in paradise don’t themselves poison the well water, they tap the sources of discontent from which all malice and bitterness flow.”

Ms. Chesney’s husband died in 2016. She is survived by their son, Charles Gibbons.

In an interview last year with the British magazine My Weekly pegged to the recent publication of the 34th Hamish Macbeth book, “Death of an Honest Man,” Ms. Chesney was asked about retirement.

“I will be working until I die,” she said, “because I am old and I have contracts to honor.”

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