The Agatha Raisin series of books is written by M C Beaton which is the pseudonym of Marion Chesney, a British author. Agatha is 53 years old when she appears in the first book, which is Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death. The series starts when Agatha retires as a Public Relations agent in London and moves to a village called Carsley in the Cotswolds. In the fifteenth book Agatha starts running a detective agency of her own. The Blood of an Englishman is the 25th in the series.
Agatha Raisin is a very unlikely heroine and maybe that’s why she has fast become one of my favourites. Agatha is middle-aged, but hates being reminded of that. She is vain, obnoxious at times, makes snide remarks, is critical in a loud way and is obsessed with the idea of falling in love. In spite of all this, she is quite endearing especially when her innate sense of justice shines through. She cannot tolerate unkindness towards the weak and often stands up for them. Agatha often ends up wearing uncomfortable clothes just to look good and I love the way she heaves huge sighs of relief when she gets back into her dressing gown ! In short Agatha Raisin is like so many of us, with her faults and prejudices. Her closest friend is the Vicar’s wife, Mrs Bloxby. However the Vicar is unable to fathom how his quiet wife can be so friendly with that ‘Bloody Woman’ which is his usual reaction to any mention of Agatha.
Coming to this particular book, it finds Agatha trying to solve the brutal murder of the local baker while he is taking part in rehearsals for a Christmas pantomime in the neighbouring village of Winter Parva. Agatha is retained by one of the actors to solve the case. Since he is quite handsome, Agatha is besotted and goes forward with a lot of enthusiasm. As usual Agatha’s policeman friend , Bill Wong, requests her not to meddle in the issue since the murderer seems to be quite vicious. And as she always does, Agatha ignores him and proceeds. The rest of the book has the usual Agatha Raisin cocktail of village intrigues, hidden agendas, related killings and the likes. The usual men in Agatha’s life also make an appearance. There’s James Lacey who is Agatha’s ex-husband; Sir Charles Fraith, a miserly yet fun-loving peer who is a very good friend of hers and Roy Silver a slightly weak-willed young man who used to work with Agatha. The author takes us on quite a journey with the path taking some strange twists and turns. To a regular reader of the series, all this will be familiar territory.
I love the Agatha Raisin series primarily for the spunky Agatha herself and then for the descriptions of life in a village. But I must admit that this particular book was slightly disappointing. I felt that the author wasn’t too involved while writing and hence there’s a parade of characters who pop in and out without adding anything to the flavor of the story. But I would highly recommend this series for the wonderful characterization of Agatha and the easy way in which the stories just flow. Agatha is an extremely interesting character and her flaws only make her more endearing. SO even if you don’t pick up this particular book, do take a peek at the rest of the Agatha Raisin mysteries.
I’m so glad I decided to participate in the Monthly Motif’s Reading Challenge. It has really spurred me to do a lot more reading. Hope this year brings a whole lot of books my way 🙂