Well, here we are again. After the Larsson slog, I needed something silly, something lightweight and not too taxing. Cue book 10 in the Agatha Raisin series, which sees our titular amateur detective take the advice of a fortune teller and decamp to Norfolk to find her romantic destiny. Naturally, what she finds are unfriendly folk in Fryfram, followed by mysterious fairies, and then, of course, murder.
Raisin decides, while trying to ingratiate herself with the locals, to tell them she’s writing a novel, Murder at the Manor, in which the local squire gets his throat cut. Guess what then happens to the ghastly nouveau-riche squire of the manor in Fryfram? I KNOW! Who would have guessed? It all gets a bit complicated since Agatha did take a crack at the novel and the police find it, thus considering her their prime suspect. Ignoring her erstwhile beau and neighbour, James Lacey, Agatha enlists the help of her friend and shag buddy Sir Charles Fraith to get the bottom of things.
The one thing I really can’t fathom here is why these books haven’t been adapted for television. They’re crying out for it. Someone on Pajiba once wrote that it’s the average book which makes the best adaptations, and that is what Beaton writes. Reliably average fare. I even find myself casting the show. Clare Higgins for Raisin, Tom Hollander for Fraith, Ralph Fiennes for Lacey and Anne Reid as Agatha’s dependable friend, the vicar’s wife Mrs Bloxby. Like that would ever happen, but in my head, it works very well.
Suffice it to say that the same old motives are investigated and the killer is revealed in the usual manner. The sub plots are kind of fun though and Beaton is wise to occasionally get Raisin out of her home village of Carsley. With twenty four books in the series, credibility would be strained even further if every book was in the same tiny place. Unless there was some fantastic final twist that Agatha was in fact a psycho mass murderer, framing innocent people as she goes…..Somehow I don’t think it likely.