“ Author: M. C. Beaton / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 24 June 2010 / Genre: Crime & Thriller / Publisher: Constable and Robinson / Title: Agatha Raisin and a Spoonful of Poison / ISBN 13: 9781849012072 / ISBN 10: 1849012072 / Alternative EAN: 9781845298937 „
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==Synopsis of the book:==
Agatha Raisin is a very busy single lady in her fifties. She lives in the Cotswolds and runs a successful Private Detective Business. However when she is asked to help organise a Fête she finds she can't help but volunteer as one of the men involved George Selby she seems immediately attracted to. Upon a little probing of the local Vicar she finds he has been recently widowed after his wife died in a fall and Agatha can feel her hormones going into overdrive.
Despite only getting involved a week before the event, Agatha is able to use her influence to great effect. As a result she manages to make in numbers alone the event a massive success. This is helped by her getting pop star Betsy Wilson to sing a few of her songs to the vastly teenage crowd. However strange things are happening and Agatha notices the Jam testing competition is proving to be amazingly popular particularly with the youngsters. She quickly discovers why as it has been spiked with LSD, by this time two of the local ladies have under the influence of this drug managed to kill themselves.
This brings in the Police and makes Agatha a very unpopular women with the inhabitants of Comfrey Magna. The Vicar enlists Agatha's services again to try and find out what happened and who is responsible for these tragic events.
==My thoughts on the novel:==
Quite to my surprise I found I really enjoyed this suspense thriller. The reason I did not think I would enjoy it was I thought I would have little in common with the lead character. And while this to some degree may be true, I felt the book was written in a way that appealed. For me it was excellently written and did not focus on who great Agatha Raisin is as a Detective. As books where the Detective is perfect do not appeal, in this story quite often I felt Agatha was far from perfect and that for me made her very human and easier to like and relate to.
I believe I have read only one book that includes this character before but my memory of it is very sketchy, so I felt it was a new character and a new author to me. So far there was 23 books in this series and this story is the 19th first published in 2008. And while you were aware that there had been previous stories and Agatha was running a successful Detective Agency what had happened in the past did not influence or spoil you enjoyment of this particular story.
Indeed you could argue that despite writing these 23 Agatha Raisin books this is not the most successful series M.C.Beaton has written. This is because of the other main series she has written are the Hamish Macbeth stories that number 27 and have been successfully transferred to television. This former journalist spends part of her time in the Cotswolds like Agatha Raisin and the rest writing in Paris.
The reason I selected this novel was a wanted a good old fashioned murder mystery and this I feel I really got. What I was looking for was a new detective to me that I can grow to like and respect the more I learn about them and this lead character seems ideal especially with there being so many to choose from in the series. The first thing that struck me about the book was the very English scene on the cover of it, it was of mainly an old church with several other houses in what looked like an old fashion village. I thought this looked interesting so I delved a bit deeper. My copy on this occasion was a hardback the paperback version I saw on the internet for sale displayed bottles of jam and one of poison which actually seemed more in keeping with this particular story.
And while the title did not inspire me, I did like the idea below this that it was a Cotswolds murder mystery. For me there is nothing more fascinating than village life especially when it involves murder! And yes having read the book you could say it was a bit quaint, I enjoyed being almost transported to a by gone day when gossip and knowing all your neighbours business was the norm. And from this stand point I would definitely think this series would appeal to the older members of society who may be able to remember when life was like this, but I still found there was enough in it for me to enjoy to.
I looked at the summary of the story and really wondered if I would enjoy it though. As I got the impression Agatha was a character similar to Miss Marple and I didn't think I would like that. Especially when it talked about her running a successful Detective Agency, I feared it would be dull as it would be a women who had everything just getting involved to crime for a bit of fun. I'm glad to say I was totally wrong and when the summary started talking about LSD in jam I become more interested and it mentioned Agatha blundering I thought this could be a story I may indeed enjoy.
No sooner had the story began I found myself enjoying it. As I very quickly found out Agatha was not the character I expected. She get involved in the fête because she fancied one of the other organises and this for me made her real, she was led my her heart rather than her head. And while I figured because they had recruited her this fête would be a great success I was impressed that not everything went to plan and she was considered by the locals a bad influence when deaths were reported.
For me it was quite a gentle story but it was always interesting and I felt it flowed well. The more I learnt about Agatha the more human and down to earth she seemed. In fact I wondered at times how she did have a successful business because she charged around at times like a bull in a China Shop. The story developed in an interesting way and while I did not feel there were earth scattering twists and turns it was always well scripted and always a story that interested me and had me wanting to know what happened and why.
With an ending that was quite unexpected but made sense and allowed all aspects of the story to be tie up successfully. Although at various times in the story I did struggle a little to believe that in such a small close knit and in theory respectable community such things happened. What really worked for me was that it didn't just focus on Agatha it also shared the thoughts and feelings of one of her team the teenager Toni that for me added a different slant on the investigation and on Agatha as a boss as well.
When I started this novel I expected Agatha to be a dull character, but I was very mistaken. In the end I thought she was a marvellous one because she was so normal. She was often led by her heart and very often got things wrong that appealed to me. I admired the way she went about things and although she was occasional prong to the odd flash of brilliance the rest of the time she had to work hard to get any results. I think this aspect will make her appeal to people and I found her whole personality refreshing.
The books length you could argue was a little on the short side, but in that time we had a very interesting murder mystery. It even had time for a good sized epilogue that rounded everything off well and reinforced Agatha Raisin as a floored but perfectly normal character. For me this was not the deepest mystery I have read but there was always something happening and something for the reader to think about without be the most taxing read. There was a simple logic behind it and while it had a slightly dated feel to it I think that had more to do with the surroundings. Although you could certainly argue technology did not play as active role as you might have expected.
For me this was a very enjoyable mystery and I will definitely be looking to read another in this series. As I certainly believe in this lead character the author is onto a winner. There was a real sense for me the author understood like in a rural community and this was borne out after completing it when I found out she lives part of the time in this part on the world, as this knowledge really comes through in her writing,
I am very pleased I purchased this book. For me it had all the right elements for a very enjoyable murder mystery and as such it is certainly a good I would recommend trying. I really like the lead character and found her easy to like, respect and occasionally be amused by. While I thought overall it was a well told story and one that was well thought out and cleverly told.
Publisher: Robinson Publishing
More about the author: www.agatharaisin.co.uk
Thanks for reading my review.
This review is published on both Ciao and Dooyoo under my user name.
© CPTDANIELS December 2012.