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Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist - M.C. Beaton

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Genre: Fiction / Author: M.C. Beaton / Paperback / 420 Pages / Book is published 2006-02-23 by Robinson Publishing

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      11.07.2008 11:17
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      recommended for fans of easy to read murder mysteries

      Agatha Raisin has just solved the mystery of who murdered her estranged husband and decides to go after James Lacey who has fled the Cotswold after their broken engagement. She arrives in Cyprus and checks into a hotel deciding that she must try to find her errant ex fiancé and try to repair the damage caused by recent events. She manages to eventually track him down along with some other British tourists who are basically not the sort of people she would want to associate with but when one of them drops dead right in front of their eyes Agatha feels she has to step in and investigate as she is herself under suspicion. It's also a great opportunity for her to get close again to James or is it? Also who else should turn up on the holiday as well but Sir Charles Fraith whose life Agatha saved not long ago during the Dembley Walkers murder investigation!

      Will Agatha be able to win James Lacey around? Will she be able to solve the murder before she is arrested herself?


      Agatha Raisin is a fictional middle aged PR agent who has retired from London to live in the Cotswolds. She is the creation of Marion Chesney who goes by the pen name of M C Beaton. Beaton's first novel starring Agatha Raisin was called Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death which was originally published in 1992 in which Agatha Raisin is 53 years old. Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist is the sixth book in the Agatha Raisin series preceded by Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage and followed by Agatha Raisin and the Wellspring of Death.

      Agatha Raisin had spent her adult life in PR working her way to the top and trying to forget her Birmingham council estate upbringing. She managed to lose her Birmingham accent on the whole and is now considered to have a Mayfair accent but even though she did well in her career she never had any friends as there was never any time for them as she was hell bent on being the best in her field and that left no time for friends or romance even. She never really thought about this sad fact until she retired to the Cotswolds and the first friend she made here was Bill Wong, a local Detective Constable who is in his mid 20s. Reference is often made in the books that is quite a soft person and has random girlfriends who he really likes but every time he takes them home to meet his overbearing mother, they get scared away. Bill Wong barely appears in this book but he is worth mentioning as he is referred to as Agatha's only read friend.

      James Lacey in this particular book he is Agatha Raisin's love interest but we see him as someone that she just has a rather large crush on rather than someone who reciprocates her feelings. He is described as someone very attractive to the opposite sex be they in their 20s or much older. He is supposed to be in the same age group as Agatha from what I can gather (in this and other books). He seems more annoyed to see Agatha in Cyprus than elated as she was wishing for him to be...

      Sir Charles Fraith - a titled Dembley landowner, described as being in his mid 40s - this was a rather large inaccuracy here on the part of the author as when we first meet him a few books previously he was described as being in his mid 30s - Agatha Raisin has certainly not aged a decade in this book so it's very odd that this character has! He first appeared on the scene a couple of books ago but suddenly he appears out of the blue in Cyprus which is rather a strange coincidence. On the most part I found him rather annoying in this book and it was rather hard to believe that Agatha Raisin fell into bed with him so easily during this story on several occasions. He might be titled but he is described as tight-fisted, often "forgetting" his wallet and expecting Agatha to pay for their outings be they at a restaurant or wherever. She finds him annoying but falls into bed with him quite easily and then semi-regrets it and continues to do the same thing!

      In this book Agatha Raisin meets a bunch of English people quite early on in the holiday who she finds rather annoying to say the least. Some of these she deems as rather common and the others seem the complete opposite - very stuck up. There are two couples and 2 single older men with them - 1 older friend with each couple. It it strange that the initial 2 groups of 3 (married couple and older male friend) seem to dislike each other intensely then suddenly they become quite friendly to Agatha's surprise... None of these characters come across as at all likeable and when one of them is bumped off, one doesn't feel even slightly sorry for that fact. Now when the finger of blame is pointed at quite clearly at one of the group including Agatha Raisin, Sir Charles and even James Lacey; Agatha feels that she must step in to solve the case even at the risk of her own life.

      Like in other Agatha Raisin books that I've read to date I found that one could like or dislike the characters quite quickly and quite easily and not really find anything deeper about them later on to change one's mind. In previous books that are shorted in length the characters are not explored in depth so you don't get much of a feel for them, but I found that was the case with this one too which was longer a couple of the others I've read by more than 100 pages! You only see the characters from Agatha Raisin's point of view and she doesn't seem to like many people at all! I didn't actually guess who the murderer was in this book as I have done in several others but I wasn't too keen on the way it was wrapped up so quickly when it did actually come out and I wanted a meatier explanation as to why and how the crime(s) took place!

      The book is written in a very easy to read style, both from a literary point of view and in actual appearance - a serif font has been used which has long been considered the easiest font style on the eye for reading books. The book is about 400 pages in length and I finished it over the space of a few days. Beaton is a modern day writer and she writes with a style which doesn't need the reader to pay too much attention to the finer details of the plot, although she does include location information which could be quite interesting - mind you, I found some of this extra information to seem like "padding" and felt like skipping some of the more detailed descriptions of the places visited. As with other books in the series that I've seen and read so far, the book has a pleasant cover which depicts the cluster of holiday homes and hotels in Cyprus making it look rather inviting!

      The cover price of Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist is £5.99 and it was initially published in 1997 in the USA and published in the UK in 2006 by Constable & Robinson. The ISBN number is 978-1845291846 and it can be purchased from Amazon for the discounted price of £4.79 or you could try eBay for a used copy where they start from around £0.99 + postage.

      Should you be tempted to read the series after having read my review about this particular book; you might be interested to know how the books appear in the series, so I've listed them below for you in order of original publication:

      * Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death (1992)
      * Agatha Raisin and the Vicious Vet (1993)
      * Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener (1994)
      * Agatha Raisin and the Walkers of Dembley (1995)
      * Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage (1996)
      * Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist (1997)
      * Agatha Raisin and the Wellspring of Death (1998)
      * Agatha Raisin and the Wizard of Evesham (1999)
      * Agatha Raisin and the Witch of Wyckhadden (1999)
      * Agatha Raisin and the Fairies of Fryfam (2000)
      * Agatha Raisin and the Love from Hell (2001)
      * Agatha Raisin and the Day the Floods Came (2002)
      * Agatha Raisin and the Case of the Curious Curate (2003)
      * Agatha Raisin and the Haunted House (2003)
      * Agatha Raisin and the Deadly Dance (2004)
      * Agatha Raisin and the Perfect Paragon 2005)
      * Love, Lies and Liquor: An Agatha Raisin mystery (2006)
      * Kissing Christmas Goodbye: An Agatha Raisin mystery (2007)
      * Agatha Raisin and a Spoonful of Poison (2008)

      I think I'd be content to give this Agatha Raisin book 7 out of 10 overall. It was an enjoyable enough read and quite a comfortable read in that there were often references made back to Agatha Raisin's home in Carsely when many of the other books in the series are set.

      NB: M C Beaton is also well known for writing the Hamish McBeth stories which were televised starring Robert Carlyle.

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