Continuing my brain dead decompression from the lengthy Booker challenge finds me reading the 13th instalment of the Agatha Raisin books. At the start of the year, for a brief window, the entire series (apart from the recently published latest instalment, the brilliantly titled Something Borrowed, Someone Dead. I’m going to just go ahead and say the death in that one is wedding related), was just 84p a piece on Kindle. So I bought them all. They are the perfect palate cleansers in between bigger and better books.
The thirteenth book is terribly similar to books 1 to 12, really. Firstly, we have a new arrival to the tiny village where Raisin is spending her retirement. In this case, it’s the terribly handsome, utterly charming, unpleasantly devious curate Tristan Delon. He’s introduced, described and killed off all in the first chapter, since Beaton really doesn’t believe in hanging around. Naturally, in the brief amount of time he’s in the book, Delon has managed to cross paths with our inimitable amateur sleuth and when the suspicion falls on the local vicar, Agatha takes it on herself to clear his name and find the real killer.
So what happens? Essentially, the same thing that happens in all the others. Agatha meddles, gets warned off by the police, ignores them, spars with the handsome neighbour, meddles some more, gets herself entangled in life threatening situations, stumbles across the identity of the killer by accident and no discernible skill. There’s some comic moments with some of her bungled investigating, for sure, but any of that is offset by how lamely she works out the killer’s identity and how repetitious her back and forth feelings over the handsome neighbour become.
And with this one, Beaton throws a lot of balls in the air, only to find out she can’t quite juggle them as well as she might. There is at least one glaring error which makes the final pages all very obvious. And to dispatch the second handsome neighbour Agatha has locked horns (but this time not loins) with only to replace him with a third would indicate Beaton doesn’t plan to deviate from the tried and tested structure just yet. Here’s hoping that she at least starts to give Agatha some self-esteem and actual sleuthing skills before too much longer though.