The Agatha Raisin books are my guilty pleasure. Not that guilty, it seems, since here I am sharing them with anyone who cares to stop by and read the blog. They are flimsy nonsense, a series of books that has now run to 23 in total. It’s sort of a younger and grumpier Miss Marple that’s fallen into Midsomer Murders. The Kindle Daily Deal the other day was six books in the series. So strap in, Cannonballers. There’s a lot of Raisin coming your way before the year is up.
Agatha Raisin is a hard edged grump who used to run a highly successful PR company. Selling up and retiring in her 50s, she moved to Carsley, and in the debut novel of this series (titled The Quiche of Death, which tells you all you need to know), found herself accused of murder when a quiche she entered into a competition poisons the judge to death. She sets out to solve the murder herself, and lo, an amateur sleuth is born.
Murderous Marriage is the fifth book in the series and finds Agatha about to be hitched to her neighbour, James Lacey. Only thing is, Agatha’s first husband is only presumed dead, so when he turns up just before anyone can say “I do”, it puts the cat among the pigeons. Then, of course, not too much later, stray hubby is found actually dead and Agatha again finds herself in the position of Prime Suspect.
Beaton really isn’t the most careful or skilled of writers. It seems with every book, she plucks another couple of words from the thesaurus and uses them over and over (Murderous Marriage’s are “truculent” and “irresolute”). She also isn’t the most attentive or cunning plotter and in this book, makes the fatal error of having a supporting character suggest an outlandish theory for the culprit’s identity, only for that to actually turn out to be right, down to every last detail. It’s a bit naff, to say the least.
But there’s something about Agatha Raisin and her seemingly endless body count that keeps me reading, so Beaton is obviously doing something right, even if she isn’t doing it very well.