Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage, M.C. Beaton
In her fifth outing, pushy and endearing Agatha Raisin has wedding to Cotswold neighbor James Lacey interrupted by her first husband, not divorced, thought-dead, Jimmy Raisin. Matters go quickly from bad to worse. Jimmy is found murdered; Agatha and James are the prime suspects.
I'm dangerously close to od'ing on these as I'm starting to feel like I could quote the upcoming lines before they are uttered. Still these sorts of books are the ones I turn to when I'm doing something else that really requires concentration. They are more than a bit silly, weirdly obsessed with the way that people look, and very samey after a while. Perhaps don't binge listen like I've been doing as the repetitiveness really stands out, but on the whole, really good for people looking for something less confrontational that many crime fiction listens. (And don't expect these to match up with the TV series - even when the plot co-incides the characters are so different you'll either be terminally confused, mildly disappointed, or oddly relieved that the perky is well and truly not part of the books).
Review - Agatha Raisin and the Walkers of Dembley, M.C. Beaton
After six grueling months back in London, Agatha Raisin returns to her beloved Cotswold village of Carsely - and to the charms of her neighbor, James Lacey. True, James is less than thrilled to see her, but Agatha is soon distracted by a sensational murder. The victim, hiker Jessica Tartinck, spent her life enraging wealthy landowners by insisting on her walking club's right to hike over their properties. Now she has been found dead....
Off again on my and Agatha Raisin's travels - this time she's out in the countryside, meeting up with Sir Charles Fraith for the first time, getting involved in an investigation around a Rambling Society seemingly populated by militants, lesbians, lost souls, IRA sympathisers and a hefty-dose of class warefare. Agatha and James find themselves masquerading as a married couple, albeit shacked up together in a furnished apartment, with James barricaded into his own bedroom by way of a chair propped under the door knob. Another good, non-distracting audio book read by the inimitable Penelope Keith who sounds like she was born to narrate exactly this sort of thing.
Review - Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener, M.C. Beaton
Agatha Raisin has a crush on James Lacey. In order to endear herself to him, she takes up gardening, hoping to participate with him in the prestigious Carsely Horticultural Contest. But as the contest approaches, plants are being mysteriously uprooted, poisoned, and burned. When the prime suspect turns up dead, Agatha must solve the murder mystery.
Nice combination of societies full of mildly potty types (pun intended) and a nicely dotty murder, once again we have Agatha off on the trail of a killer, getting herself threatened and nearly bumped off along the way, moping about after James, having fun with friend Bill Wong, and generally indulging in a spot of silliness in the Cotswolds. If you've not read any of these books but are coming to them on the strength of the TV series then you are going to be confused. The book version of Agatha is older, bitchier and considerably less "perky" than the TV version. There's a different cast and all in all, they are very different in style although much of the plots is vaguely recognisable. Again another driving book which is probably one of the better of those listened to so far.
Review - Agatha Raisin and the Vicious Vet, M.C. Beaton
Feisty Agatha Raisin, former London PR exec, retired to quiet Cotswold village. Handsome vet Paul Bladen accidentally kills himself while attending Lord Pendlebury's horse. Agatha and attractive neighbor James Lacey investigate the curious lack of sorrow shown by his divorced wife while a killer plans another "accident".
Perhaps don't do what I'm doing and binge listen to these.
As much as I prefer something light, not necessarily requiring steely attention to catch the various nuances when I'm driving, I will admit there have been points where if I hear something about Agatha's middle age, bear-like eyes and good legs again I'll probably cause a major traffic incident. Having said that I don't mind these audio books as a companion for the constant kilometres or in the sewing room when I'm trying to fathom what goes where and how the hell are you supposed to achieve that!
They are a bit of silly fun. Agatha's mooning about over James is tedious definitely, but overall the plots are okay, and her detection style of irritating everyone about everything until somebody spits it and does something to her consistent with the overall personality of the characters, and the style of books.
If you're a fan of something that's on the cozier side, albeit with more than a bit of race, and some unexpected sex (more so in later book's so far) then this is not a nice series on audio.
Review - Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death, M.C. Beaton
Putting all her eggs in one basket, Agatha Raisin gives up her successful PR firm, sells her London flat, and samples a taste of early retirement in the quiet village of Carsely. Bored, lonely and used to getting her way, she enters a local baking contest: Surely a blue ribbon for the best quiche will make her the toast of the town. But her recipe for social advancement sours when Judge Cummings-Browne not only snubs her entry--but falls over dead! After her quiche's secret ingredient turns out to be poison, she must reveal the unsavory truth…
I've spent a lot of time driving recently, and these really work as a background to the endless kilometres.
Having kind of liked the TV Agatha Raisin series, I thought trying one of these as an audiobook for one of the recent long drives would be worth a go. I personally prefer things on the lighter side when I should be concentrating on driving, and a change of options was required after having spent a lot of hours with Phryne Fisher.
Obviously the Agatha Raisin of the books is nothing much like the TV version - so if you're hoping for a direct match you may be disappointed. Here the unpleasant aspects of Raisin's personality are more stark, and there's no way she looks anything like the TV blonde bombshell. But in this example, Penelope Keith does a wonderful job of the narration, the story is obviously from the cosier side of crime fiction, Agatha fluctuates between annoying and endearing and Roy ... well Roy is Roy.
There is a nice plot with lots of village shenanigans and enough smiles to keep you interested, if not out and out laughing, which is probably just as well as it was a perfect background to a lot of Australian country drive.