The queen of secondhand book sales on AbeBooks.co.uk is not JK Rowling but Marion Chesney, better known as MC Beaton, who created the Agatha Raisin series of Cotswold-based mysteries. Although Summoned by Bells by poet John Betjeman - born 100 years ago - tops the list, 10 Agatha Raisin books feature in the top 50. Raisin, played by Penelope Keith in BBC Radio 4’s recent adaptations, is a pushy middle-aged, middle-class PR executive who becomes entangled in murder mysteries. Seventeen Agatha Raisin books have been published since 1992, including the memorably named Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death and also Agatha Raisin and the Vicious Vet. Ex-journalist Chesney, who was born in Glasgow and lives in the Cotswolds, has also written the Hamish Macbeth novels as well as dozens of historical romances under a variety of pen names.

[More from the AbeBooks Year in Review]

1. Summoned by Bells

John Betjeman
Blank verse autobiography published in 1960

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2. 1984

George Orwell
Big Brother Debuts in 1949

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3. Wisden Cricketers' Almanack (Various Editions)

The sport's annual bible since 1864

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4. The Da Vinci Code

Dan Brown
2003's Holy Grail mega-seller

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5. I Leap Over the Wall

Monica Baldwin
A memoir of a nun departing a convent from 1950

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6. Agatha Raisin and the Case of the Curious Curate

M.C. Beaton
A new man is in town


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7. Agatha Raisin and the Haunted House

MC Beaton
Agatha-turned-Ghostbuster


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8. Beautiful Child

Torey Hayden
Experiences of a special education teacher from 2002


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9. Agatha Raisin and the Wellspring of Death

MC Beaton
Something nasty is in the well


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10. In Cold Blood

Truman Capote
Investigation of multiple murders published in 1965

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Agatha Raisin and the Day the Floods Came By

  1. Agatha Raisin and the Day the Floods Came By, MC Beaton
  2. The Cosmic Ordering Service, Barbel Mohr
  3. Agatha Raisin and the Witch of Wyckhadden, MC Beaton
  4. Agatha Raisin and the Fairies of Fryfam, MC Beaton
  5. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
  6. The King Must Die, Mary Renault
  7. Man's Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl
  8. Agatha Raisin and the Wizard of Evesham, MC Beaton
  9. Life and Fate, Vasily Grossman
  10. Holy Blood, Holy Grail, Michael Baigent
  11. The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, TE Lawrence
  12. The Man with the Golden Gun, Ian Fleming
  13. Casino Royale, Ian Fleming
  14. Songs of the Humpback Whale, Jodi Picoult
  15. The Skilled Helper, Gerald Egan
  16. Victor Book for Boys (various editions)
  17. Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry
  18. Second Glance, Jodi Picoult
  19. Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist, MC Beaton
  20. Getting Things Done, David Allen

The Wind in the Willows

  1. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
  2. A Pictoral Guide to the Lakeland Fells (various editions), Alfred Wainwright
  3. Models of the Church, Avery Dulles
  4. Harvesting the Heart, Jodi Picoult
  5. Eragon, Christopher Paolini
  6. A History of Architecture, Sir Banister Fletcher
  7. On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Ian Fleming
  8. Agatha Raisin and the Walkers of Dembley, MC Beaton
  9. Power of Silence, Carlos Castaneda
  10. Dissolution, CJ Sansom
  11. Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage, MC Beaton
  12. Familiar Wild Flowers, Edward F. Hulme
  13. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, JK Rowling
  14. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
  15. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark
  16. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
  17. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
  18. The Guinness Book of Records (various editions)
  19. The French Lieutenant's Woman, John Fowles
  20. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh