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Poisoning the judge
Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death - M.C. Beaton
Member Name: CPTDANIELS
Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death - M.C. Beaton
Advantages: Very funny murder mystery
Disadvantages: Investigation lacked substance and depth.
Agatha Raisin at 53 has decided after a successful career running her own PR company to retire from active life. She has sold the business, her home and has bought a cottage in a small village called Carsely. However will she able to adapt to life in the Cotswolds after the fast pace of her former London life?
She realises she needs to make friends and get herself known in her new community. So she decides to enter the village quiche competition. The only problem is she can't cook and has spent the last twenty plus years living of takeaways, microwave meals or dinning out. She knows a good establishment in London for authentic quiches so she purchases a quiche. To her disgust she does not win the competition and tells the judge Mr Cummings-Browne he can keep it. The following day the Police visit Agatha and advise her that her quiche has poisoned Cummings-Browne and he is dead. Agatha has no choice but to come clean about cheating but now she must also clear her name of the murder of this popular man.
==My thoughts on the novel:==
I thought this was a good crime thriller. For me this series of stories would appeal to the more mature readers within our society. My reason for saying this is they are interesting, well thought out stories, but for me they lack the depth and modern technology required to solve crimes. For this was a gentle read, I did not feel overly taxed by it and it did not challenge me as a reader. But that can be a positive or a negative as sometimes it is good to read a thriller that is an easy read. I can imagine this would be a popular holiday read as it is quite light.
This is not the first book I have read from M.C Beaton or indeed the first in the series I have enjoyed. Beaton is best know for two series of crime stories, the Agatha Raisin ones and the Hamish Macbeth. The Macbeth stories have been transferred successfully to television. While the Raisin series now number 23, I had previously read various stories within the series. I thought this time it would be good to read the first and see how the Agatha Raisin books began.
I don't really know what I expected from the first in the series, but as far as I am concerned where the author choose to start Agatha Raisin's story it was a great selection. I say this because she was giving up her successful career and starting in essence a new chapter in her life. As a result I found her new life interesting and enjoyed the challenges she was to face. It was almost like we were experiencing a shared newness and I found that helped me grow to like this character in her new surroundings.
My decision to purchase this book had been made on the grounds that I have enjoyed all the other books in the series. I found this one and bought it second hand at Amazon for under three pounds.
Although a new one is currently on sale for just 4.34. Added to which I liked the sound of it from the summary of the story. This was a good three paragraphs long and I liked the idea of her cheating in this competition and getting found out. In addition I thought the title of the book was unusual and interesting.
When I began the story I found I instantly liked the style of author employed. I felt it was a light hearted read and one in which the leading character was a most unusual lady. She reminded me of a modern day Miss Marple, but whereas Miss Marple or was a harmless old lady Agatha is a 53 year old lady who wants to be involved in everything. She has bound of energy and what particularly appeals to me is she is far from perfect in fact she is quite often bad, such as trying to pass a bought quiche as her own work.
The story had a good feel about it and I found very quickly I was immersed in it. The plot was never too complex, it was basically a well thought out story. I really liked the fact the Agatha really cheesed of the locals who she was trying to befriend but her actions backfired on her. This helped me to feel empathy with her when in truth she is a character I have little in common with and so could in theory struggle to understand or like.
I think the main reason I liked this book and it was not a feature I noticed so much in the previous stories was the humour within it. I am not for one minute saying poisoning is funny, but because of the actions and what was happening mainly to Agatha it was a most amusing read. And because of good, crisp descriptions you were able to picture the scene and see the clever wit within it. As a result in some respects the crime and Agatha's investigation of it was almost secondary as I am sure when I think about this book it will be the humour within it I will remember not who committed the crime and why.
That said the investigation did have a variety of possible suspects and I did not guess the solution to it until it was resealed to me. And maybe because of the many humorous situations Agatha found herself in I did not feel the story had much in the way of mystery or suspense. Added to which I also felt the story lacked many twists and turns as the author choose instead to bring more humour in and make it a gentler more sedate read.
The pace of the story I felt was good all the way through and I liked the way Agatha like a typical amateur blundered her way along. And while excitement was generally lacking from the story, I did find the concluding chapters did try and redress this. As the ending was fast paced and well thought out.
I think I have already mentioned quite a lot about what I thought of the leading character in the series Agatha Raisin. She is a very feisty lady who quite often uses any means at her disposal to achieve her aims. And while this is not the sort of person I would necessarily like because of this but because she makes mistakes and does crazy things I find I like and respect her. As a result I want her to succeed especially in this story when at one stage it seemed everyone in her new village disliked her. In this story I liked her indecision about whether she would stay in the village as she missed her London life but then she was not so sure, this really endeared her to me as I could imagine most given her situation would feel exactly the same.
For me the stories length was about right to tell a good and interesting story. I think for the series to be a success it was important to introduce Agatha in may ways as a flawed character. And so from that point of view for me the humour and dry wit within the story was more important than the crime itself and the investigation of it.
I really enjoyed this introduction to the Agatha Raisin series of crime stories and as such I would recommend it. What I really liked was the humour within the story which you could argue took away from the investigation itself. The story was well written and always interesting, but lacked a complex or gripping plot behind it. As a result I found it a very light and easy book to read that did not really tax me, but was still enjoyable.
Publisher: Robinson Publishing
Year first published: 1992
Thank you for reading my review.
This review is published under my user name on both Ciao and Dooyoo.
© CPTDANIELS January 2013.
Summary: Amusing little mystery.