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Agatha Raisin is in her early Fifties and she owns a very successful Detective Agency. She lives a nice life but she worries she is getting too old. She is divorced and has been invited to her ex-husbands wedding which she attends with her friend and colleague Toni. Agatha feels slightly jealous of Toni as she is young and it is always her the press want to photograph for the papers.
As they arrive at the wedding all seems to be going well, that is until the bride gets shot. Agatha is a prime suspect as she was overheard talking to the groom James about him wanting out of the wedding and she suggested he shot her. She finally gets cleared by the police by then receives a call from Olivia, the brides mother who asks her to investigate the murder. Agatha takes on the job and with the help of Toni is making good progress. Unfortunately when ever they get a lead they find the person they wish to speak to has already been killed.
Agatha has a hard task ahead of her and with her emotional connection to the groom she is finding it a hard job. Then Agatha meets Sylvan who is a French friend of the family and he seems to be helping her a lot, unfortunately Toni and the rest of the Detective team become suspicious of him as he is always present when they find another dead body.
Will Agatha be able to solve the mystery of who killed the bride and will she ever get her self confidence back?
This is not the normal choice of book which I would pick but I chose t to make up numbers in a 3 for £5 book offer and I am pleased that I did. I found the story was very good and kept me gripped and I also found the characters were all very good.
The initial opening to the story was a little strange as it showed Agatha to be quite desperate and in need of some self confidence but as the story moved on she did get stronger but was still lacking in a bit of confidence and I just felt this did not suit her very well ad got a bit fed up when she was doubting herself all of the time. The other characters were all good but for me there was just a few too many to keep track of them all and who was who and where they worked. Think it would have benefited from dropping a few and making the remaining ones a bit more prominent to the story.
I did like the role of Toni and could sympathise with her at times but I felt she needed to be a bit stronger. The one role which I was not keen on was Sylvan and I think he was portrayed as being a smooth and nasty man who would not let anything get in his way, this becomes more so towards the end of the book. I felt I was able to get to know a lot about the main characters and their lives but the sheer amount of support character made me easily loose track of who was who.
I found the story to be good and as it was so different from books I usually go for I was quite gripped by it. The first half of the book moved at a good pace with the story unfolding and lots of twists added but for me t then went down hill and I found it got dragged out and there seemed to be a lot at the end which was not needed and felt it was only being included to make up the word count.
The writing style was good and very easy to read, we did get some good descriptions about a few people and places but for me I would have liked slightly more so I would have been able to get a better mental picture of what was actually going on and how the characters looked. We do get some good details about a few character but not enough for my liking.
The book which I have is the paperback edition and the retail price for this is £6.99. I did not pay this price and got the book in an offer with 3 books for £5. I would say it is not worth the high price tag at all. The book was written by M C Beaton and published by Robinson. There are a lot of other books available in the Agatha Raisin collection and I might have a read of some of them but only if I can get them cheap.
I can only give this book 3 stars despite being slightly impressed with it. The storyline is good for the first half but got dragged out towards the end. The characters were good but there were just a few too many for my liking and I would have liked more details about people and places. This is an enjoyable read if you don't want a book which is too deep and if you can get it cheap like I did.
Private investigator Agatha Raisin is not a happy woman. She is concerned with the rate at which her body is ageing; even worse, her ex-husband, James, is getting married to a much younger woman and Agatha has been invited to the wedding. She goes, with plenty of friends in tow and looks forward to the whole thing being over as soon as possible. She sees James just before the wedding, when he makes it clear that he has changed his mind and wants to pull out of the wedding. Then the bride is killed, by a bullet through the window, and James and Agatha are the primary suspects. Can they prove their innocence while finding out who the real perpetrator is?
For anyone who has not yet read one of the Agatha Raisin books, Agatha retired from her own public relations business to move to the country, where she set up a private investigation agency. She is not a typical heroine; she can be brusque and rude to people that she doesn't know, but she is good to her friends and will do anything she can to help them. Her relationship with James is a complicated one; they had an on/off affair for some time before getting married, but the marriage was a short-lived affair. Whereas James has seemingly moved on, Agatha clearly hasn't.
I do feel that the James/Agatha story is getting a little tired now. They have so much history behind them that I can't see them ever getting together, yet there is always the suggestion that they just might. Agatha, in the meantime, is finding plenty of male company, including long-time friend and occasional lover, Charles. Whereas I think older women (or indeed any women) should have the opportunity to go out there and meet men, I'm not sure the place for it is in a work of crime fiction like this. To be honest, I'm getting a little bored of it now and would much prefer the author focussed on the story rather than Agatha's love life.
Unfortunately, the story isn't really of a high enough standard to carry the book, which is probably why the author is adding in Agatha's sexual liaisons to spice things up. The plot is all over the place. It starts well with the wedding, but then peters out because Agatha is sacked from the job. She then pootles around with other business, and then the main story starts up again a couple of chapters later. In between, Agatha has a couple of largely meaningless trips abroad, which had no real purpose other than to pad out the book. The book isn't a long one anyway, but it would have been much better without the padding.
Then there is the sloppy writing. It really feels as if the author just poured her words out as she was thinking them and no-one really went back and proof-read them. I've felt this for the last two or three books. I suspect because the books are published at such a rate (at least one a year), the author is under pressure to get them written as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, it shows and I really think some more thought needs to go into the stories so that they come across to readers better. This is a light-hearted read, but this is still no need for weak writing.
I have probably sounded very negative about the book so far. However, it is still an enjoyable read. Agatha Raisin is a funny character, she is full of doubts about herself and her looks and it is very easy to identify with her. And there is a lot of humour in the books, often caused by Agatha's jealous rages - in this book, she is annoyed that her 'protegee' is getting more media attention than she is. The book is perfect for a comfort read, because it requires very little concentration.
I would really like the author to tighten up her writing for the next book and to put a little more thought into the plots. However, I think that anyone who has enjoyed other books in the series will enjoy this one too. Newcomers would perhaps be advised to go further back in the series to get a feel for the general vibe - this is not the best place to start. This book is just about recommended, but don't expect a work of literary expertise.
The hardback book is available from play.com for £9.99 (the paperback has not yet been published - release date is April 2010). Published by Constable and Robinson, it has 246 pages. ISBN: 9781845299538