The first few in the Agatha Raisin series by M C Beaton: Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death; Agatha Raisin and the Vicious Vet; Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener; Agatha Raisin and the Walkers of Dembley. I like Agatha Raisin because she is not the conventional heroine. She is outspoken and a good organiser and she she is insecure about her ability to attract men. She does her best in any situation but her attempts at detection do not always go to plan. These books are a light and amusing read but well written. I have read all three before but they will bear re-reading.
Carmen Reid - New York Valentine - the latest in the How Not to Shop series. Chick lit at its best with Annie Valentine wading in where angels fear to tread to sort out clothes shopping nightmares.
Patricia Wentworth - The Lonesome Road; The Chinese Shawl; Miss Silver Comes to Stay. All three are excellent examples of Patricia Wentworth's Miss Silver books.
Elizabeth Edmondson - The Villa in Italy. Set in the late 1950s. Four people unknown to one another arrive at the Villa Dante in accordance with a will. They have to find a codicil which is hidden somewhere in the Villa and they have thirty three days in which to find it or all the money will go to charity. The plot may seem a bit of a cliche but everything is in the writing and the writing of this novel is excellent. The characters are interesting and I wanted them to sort out their problems with or without the money. I felt quite sad when I read the last page.
Gladys Mitchell - The Mystery of a Butcher's Shop. A body of an unpopular man is found neatly jointed in a butcher's shop - but the head is missing. Another case for the inimitable Mrs Bradley.
Theodore Dalrymple - Second Opinion. A collection of short pieces about the flotsam and jetsam of society as represented by inner city dwellers and prisoners. Ascerbic and judgemental - Theodore Dalrymple will either delight or horrify you and may completely destroy your faith in the basic goodness of the human animal.