Cannonball Read 6, Book 16: Agatha Raisin & The Day The Floods Came by M.C. Beaton

8537775So here we are. After the mind numbing banality and apparently endless pages of The Kills, I needed something to decompress. Something easy, something short, something that I can take my brain out for and still enjoy. Who better fulfils that remit that Miss Marple by way of Midsomer Murders? As some of you may be aware, I’ve read a fair few of these books and this instalment is number 12 in the still ongoing series. Not bad when you consider the author is knocking on 80 years old.

When we last left our hapless heroine and amateur sleuth, she was abandoned by her husband and hunky handsome neighbour James, who lost his mind and decided to enter a monastery. To mend her broken heart, Agatha takes herself off to a remote South Pacific island for some sun and relaxation. Naturally, the bride in a honeymooning couple ends up dead, apparently drowned by her husband. Back home, the weather causes rivers to flood and amid all the burst bank craziness, a dead body in a wedding gown comes floating along. Initially it’s ruled a suicide, but Agatha remembers the drowning on her holiday and has other ideas…..

And so of course, it’s business as usual, with Agatha getting in the way, being snappish with people she interviews, flirting with the new neighbour, suffering crippling bouts of low self-esteem and stumbling on the answer by chance rather than skill. Beaton is smart enough to realise Raisin’s sharp edges need a foil to blunt them, but to give us another handsome writer as the new neighbour is a little repetitive. Also on the repetition front is Beaton’s language (Agatha howls at people fairly often and more than one person is truculent) and a far-fetched, ultimately unsatisfying and entirely daft conclusion.

In addition to being utterly ridiculous, the finale also leaves several plot strands hanging unresolved. The initial murder on the island seems to be a Maguffin (I’m being very kind there) and another sub-plot with someone trying to murder Agatha is either resolved very haphazardly or not resolved at all, I couldn’t really tell which. And yet somehow for some reason, I forgive all the faults and carry on reading. I have no clue why. Maybe I’m waiting for them to suddenly become amazing. It’s likelier that I enjoy losing myself in harmless mindless nonsense.

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