8 March 2008

AGATHA RAISIN and KISSING CHRISTMAS GOODBYE, M.C. Beaton

This is an Agatha Raisin Cotswold murder mystery.
I should probably trust my gut feelings - I have "read" another 2 titles in this series in the last 3 years and resolved after the last never to touch them again. But people on book lists keep telling me they like them! and so I thought I'd try the latest. I have included my earlier mini-reviews at the bottom of the page so you can see for yourself how I felt.

Phyllis Tamworthy, about to celebrate her 80th birthday, contacts Agatha Raisin because she thinks someone from her family will try to murder her at her birthday celebrations. And they do - Mrs Tamworthy dies of hemlock poisoning despite the fact that Agatha is on the case, and actually staying in the manor house! That's enough to raise any female PI's dander. Phyllis Tamworthy was universally hated by her family and all the villagers, so the list of suspects reads like the local telephone directory.

The author just managed to retain my interest in the whodunnit side of this story, but I came close to not finishing the book when it side-tracked to Agatha Raisin's plans for the best Christmas celebrations ever. I can't get away from the feeling that these books are meant to be a spoof on the village cozy, but there is so little in them that I find amusing. The author does far too much "telling". The reader is never in a position to solve the mystery because not all the salient facts are at their disposal. There are occasional glimpses of good characterisation - perhaps the fact that I find Agatha Raisin so detestable is evidence of that - but there are others who are mere caricatures. The fact that KISSING CHRISTMAS GOODBYE is the 18th in the series is probably indicative that someone out there likes them, buys them, reads them, but this little duck won't be looking for the 19th.
My rating: 3.0

AGATHA RAISIN and THE POTTED GARDENER
Audio CD from BBC Audiobooks. Read by Penelope Keith. #3 in the Agatha Raisin series. Agatha returns from London to the village of Carsley to find a new woman has taken up residence in the village, and seemingly supplanted herself in the affections of her bachelor neighbour James Lacey. The village is preparing for a garden festival, and the newcomer, Mary Fortune, appears to be an expert gardener. The gardens of rivals begin to suffer little accidents like uprooted flowers and murdered goldfish. This cosy village series is not my favourite read but Penelope Keith's excellent reading kept me listening. Why don't I like the series? The plots are a bit too trivial for me - village politics - and I don't particularly like the character of Agatha Raisin. However the series is obviously popular and there are now 18 in the series written over a period of 15 years..
My rating: 3.9

AGATHA RAISIN and the PERFECT PARAGON
Agatha appears to have lost most of her staff at the end of her last case, and in this book is putting new team together. Local business man Robert Smedley hires Raisin Investigations to check up on his wife and ends up dead poisoned by weed killer. There is really nothing wrong with the basic elements of the plot of this book, but it feels "dumbed-down", like a Famous Five book with adult scenarios. Perhaps they are just too cozy for me.
My rating: 3.4

1 comment:

Kevin McCaughey said...

I agree that the books are not serious reading, but I enjoy them as a light listen sometimes. I am listening to "The Rise and Fall of The Third Reich" at the moment - it's heavy going, but brilliant - I am about to listen to another Agatha Raisin book to take a break from it.

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