Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener by M. C. Beaton
Rating ⭐⭐⭐ 1/2
Genre/Age Cosy Mystery / 15+
Agatha goes digging where she shouldn’t…
Agatha is taken aback when she finds a new woman ensconced in the affections of her attractive bachelor neighbour, James Lacey. The beautiful Mary Fortune is superior in every way, especially when it comes to gardening – and with Carsely Garden Open Day looming, Agatha feels this deficiency acutely.
So when Mary is discovered murdered, buried upside down in a pot, Agatha seizes the moment and immediately starts yanking up village secrets by their roots and digging the dirt on the hapless victim. But Agatha has an awkward secret too . . .
After spending much of the winter abroad Agatha returns to the Cotswolds and her pursuit of James Lacey. She is most put out to discover that not only has a very glamorous divorcee moved into Carsley but Mary Fortune has also grown “very close” to the suave bachelor.
Agatha is such a wonderful contradiction of a character, as fierce as a tiger and sharp as a knife when she feels on safe ground but still the timid little girl from a Birmingham slum at heart. She’s somewhat of an unreliable narrator when it comes to James, who may be good looking but I suspect he is somewhat of a self-absorbed history bore at heart. It was in this book that I felt other side characters were explored more, in particular Mrs Bloxby, and you could feel the village really filling with life.
The plot is equal parts contemporary fiction and cosy mystery, with Agatha being the focus more than anything else. Whilst the “big reveal” isn’t a case of deus ex machina, all the suspects and possible motives are made clear, and there are some last-minute leaps of logic required to unveil the culprit. To be honest, I’m here less for the murders and more for the amusing soap opera that is Agatha Raisin’s life, the superb writing doesn’t harm the cause either.
I’m now marching my way to the Walkers of Dembley.
Agatha Raisin and the Walkers of Dembley by M. C. Beaton
Genre/Age Mystery / 15+
An unexpected hike to the Other Side . . .
After time away, Agatha Raisin returns to her beloved Cotswold village of Carsely – and to her handsome neighbour, James Lacey. True, James seems less than thrilled to see her, but Agatha is soon distracted by a sensational murder. The victim, found in a field, is young hiker Jessica Tartinck, who spent her life enraging landowners by insisting on her right to roam. Hope springs eternal in Agatha’s breast as she lures the reluctant James into her investigation. There are so many leads to follow, for Jessica’s fellow walkers – not to mention the landowners – all seem able to commit murder.
Six months of being in London has left Agatha Raisin desperate to return to the familiar warmth of Carsley. Of course, she’s soon bored by the slow pace of village life and is looking for adventure, either in the arms of the “blows hot-and-cold” James Lacey, or further afield. When the niece of a villager asks her to investigate the murder of a fellow rambler, it looks like she will get a chance at both. The pair move to a neighbouring village, sharing a flat and claiming to be a married couple.
The plot shares an equal focus on investigating the murder and the pseudo-married life of James and Agatha. The latter seems to very much cool Agatha’s ardour, and in typical James fashion the less interested Agatha appears, the more he wants to gain her favour. It leads to a very unexpected twist at the end, and one I’m not sure is in Agatha’s best interests.
We meet some interesting side characters, take particular note of Sir Charles as I know he appears in future books! Whilst I didn’t enjoy this one as much as others in the series, it’s still a very entertaining read and a pleasing addition to the series.
Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage by M. C. Beaton
Genre/Age Mystery / 15+
The morning of Agatha’s marriage to James Lacey dawns bright and clear. But her luck runs out in the church when Jimmy, the husband she had believed long dead, turns up large as life and twice as ugly. Agatha has a go at strangling him. James breaks off the engagement. So when Jimmy is found murdered next day, Agatha and James are both the prime suspects. And they’ll have to work together in order to clear their names . . .
Another fast-paced, funny, warm yet poignant adventure in the crazy life of Agatha Raisin. Just as she is about to make all her dreams come true by marrying James Lacey, up turns her not-so-dead husband. Agatha is more in love with the idea of being in love, though she does hold genuine emotions for James. She, as Sir Charles Frith observed in the previous books, deserves so much better than Mr Lacey.
I very much enjoyed this episode of the “comedy-drama” that is life in the Cotswolds. There are countless crazy adventures, several near misses, jealousy, drama, discontent and in the middle of it all our irrepressible Agatha. For a very light-hearted series, this book touched on some much deeper emotions. If only Agatha had met a “Bill” instead of Jimmy, or there was not such a large gap in their ages. Until she met Bill and Mrs Bloxby, Agatha hadn’t ever known love, of any form, in her life. Whilst theirs is the love of friendship, I’m hoping Agatha eventually finds someone who showers her with utter adoration and the kind of romantic love that she so thoroughly deserves.
2 thoughts on “#BookReview #LibraryReads #CosyMystery”
These sound like wonderful cozies and I love that they are fast-paced. Sometimes cozies can get slowed down by all that fun stuff. Excellent reviews!
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