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The Potted Gardener - M.C.Beaton

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      20.02.2013 18:12
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      Simple but good thriller

      ==Synopsis of the book:==

      Agatha Raisin returns from a dull and lonely holiday to her home in the village of Carsely in the Cotswold s. She has for some time had a crush on her single neighbour James Lacey. However she is disappointed to find he is spending a lot of time with the new comer to the village and attractive single lady called Mary Fortune who is a professional gardener. What make it worse for Agatha is all the village seem to have taken a shine to this lady who she finds makes personal and hurtful comments against her and she thinks it is more than just jealousy on her part.

      The Carsely Garden Open Day is rapidly approaching and Agatha decides she wants to make an impression and get one up on Mary Fortune she will enter her garden. The only problem being she is not really a gardener and it needs a lot of work doing to it. When she does plant her seeds they are quickly killed by the frost, so she plans to cheat and get the garden sorted by a proper company instead. While other attractive gardens in the neighbourhood are being ruined by a spate of vandalism that leaves the locals wondering who is responsible for it. Agatha thinks she should help the Police and investigate who could have done this, but it is a murder she really wants to start looking into. Could she get her wish?

      ==My thought on this novel==

      I thought this was quite a good mystery. Having read several of these stories in this series I am pleased I picked this one up and because I have read a few know I roughly know what to expect. However I should point out if you want an in-depth story that will challenge you this probably is not the thriller for you as it is quite easy read and one that does not tax the reader unduly.

      The author M.C.Beaton is a successful Scottish writer. I first came to know her work via the television when her series of books featuring Hamish Macbeth began to be shown. Since then I have read several of the books from that series which in my opinion are better than the television programs. Following on from this I started trying her other main series of books that have Agatha Raisin as the lead character. There are currently 23 in the series and the book I am reviewing hear is the third of these and was first published in 1994.

      To be honest I was looking for a lighter read this week as I had struggled with a couple of complicated stories recently, so something a bit easier was called for. I found this book at a car boot some time ago and realised this on previous form would fit the bill. What first attracted me to this book was its very unusual title and I wondered what the writer had in mind with it. Now having read the book I think I think this is probably the best title that there could have been for it and a very unexpected one.

      I flipped the book over to read the summary of it but inside on the back cover I found raise for the series in general. I always question the value of this and would prefer to read comments about the book I was about to read instead. The summary was on the inside cover and it was a good size, three good paragraphs. However in retrospect I think the author gave too much of the story away in it, certainly more than I divulged earlier in my review!! Although having said that it did grab my attention and I wanted to know what antics Agatha would be getting up to in the garden.

      The story started well with me as immediately made me feel comfortable. As Agatha was returning to her home from her holiday to find that things had changed and she had competition for the man she was after. Yes it was quite a gentle and slow start but it did at least give the reader a chance to settle into the writers style and pick up a lot of background information on the characters and the place. What always impresses me about this series is the excellent descriptions the author uses to describe the village and its unusual characters within it.

      Although did wonder when something important would happen and I was disappointed that it was not until just before half way through something finally did. While this build up was interesting I do think it went on to long. I would have preferred a longer investigation as I did not think the author gave it as long as she should and as a result there were not enough twists within the story. More depth would have been good as I felt there were too few suspects within the story. Added to which I was surprised one or two characters were not even considered as suspects.

      I suppose that is my biggest annoyance with this book the lack of depth, but I knew this before I picked up the story so I have no right to feel this way really. In many ways the story reminded me of a Miss Marple investigation but without the many twists and turns. That said the story definitely had a direction to it and I still enjoyed it. I think the main reason for that is the humour within it. Agatha is an odd and quite unusual character, I really like some of the silly situations she finds herself in and some of the things that happen to her.

      The pace of the story was pedestrian until the final few chapters that were more exciting. And while it may sound mean to say that I still found it easy to read without boring me and in no time had I completed it. The answers to the mystery made sense and certainly I was foxed all the way through. Added to which everything was explained and all the I's were dotted and the T's crossed. There was even space at the end for an epilogue which wasn't really required as everything was explained before it.

      The main character in this series is Agatha Raisin. She is a lady has retired in her fifties with a real zest for life. And while I feel I have little in common with her I still admire and have learnt to like her. She is very outgoing and creates a lot of problems for herself because of her unusual actions. This makes what happens to her most amazing and on several occasions I chucked away at what was happening. Even when she is investigating a crime her style is very simplistic and as a result her makes mistakes and does not ask the right questions, which indeares me to her when she is doing it.

      The novels length was fine to tell an undemanding but never the less interesting piece of fiction. Yes the author could have included more depth but then I would not have got my easy to read simple story. With the story broken up into regular chapters this was a book that took no time at all to complete. For me this series is ideal for a light read maybe when on holiday as you can simply pick it up and enjoy without having to think or worry to much about it.

      ==Conclusion:==

      On balance I would recommend this as an enjoyable crime thriller. The story was light but I still found enough in it to be interesting. I really enjoy the light hearted style within the story and learning all about the leading characters unusual antics. With the biggest drawback being that fact it did take a long time until something important actually happened and I wondered at times leading up to then if it ever would.

      ==Other information:==

      Paperback version:
      Pages:248
      Price: 4.89
      Publisher: Robinson Publishing
      ISBN-10: 1849011362
      ISBN-13: 978-1849011365
      Year first Published: 1994
      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 February 2013.

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