Another Agatha

When most of us hear “Agatha” in conjunction with mysteries, we think “Christie”, which is why many more recent writers harken back to that name in their own mystery works.

Once again, I started a series of M.C. Beaton stories, this one featuring an Agatha.

When we first meet Agatha Raisin, it is at a goodbye party in her office in London. She’d built up a very successful promotional agency, and had sold it to take an early retirement.

She was a relentless promoter, shrewd at sizing people up and knowing how to get to them. She was a tough, but fair, boss. He employees enjoyed working for her and were sorry to see her leave, but they expected to go on with their lives, since outside of directly working with her,  they had no relationships with her, and Agatha had a promise from the new owner that all would stay the same in the company. (He lied.)

Agatha had decided to move to the (from what I have heard) beautiful region of England called The Cotswolds. It’s old, picturesque and fill with what seems to be charming villages.

Charming villages. That is one thing that I believes brings me back to M.C. Beaton’s Hamish Macbeth and Agatha Raisin  mysteries is the charming villages, and the reality that outsiders are never totally trusted, and in some of the villages people are downright hostile to everyone, even each other.

 Agatha realizes that she has no friends, not really, not in London, and certainly not in The Cotswolds. The only ones who really make an effort with her are others who understand what being an outsider means: the vicar’s wife, who had previously moved around quite a bit, and a regional policeman whose mother is Chinese.

Agatha is torn. She yearns for the peace of a nice village and her cottage, but misses being busy in London. When in The Cotswolds, she considers going back to London; when in London, she can’t wait to get back to The Cotswolds.

Others come into the village and leave when they find out what village life is really like, but Agatha stays.

Beneath that tough cookie exterior lies the heart of a romantic. All that keeps her in her cottage is the peace she seeks for herself, the intellectual stimulation of helping to solve murders that crop up,

 and her next-door neighbor.

The next-door neighbor is an attractive, retired Army colonel who has moved to what he thought would be a life of solitude to write about famous battles.

Agatha is in her early 50s, but attractive and fit, and she has her eye on neighbor James Lacey, even though, for some time, she has no idea if her husband is alive or dead. She lets everyone assume that she is divorced and that she had at least a middle-class upbringing, neither of which is true.  She was raised in a slum and she married young. Jimmy Raisin was an abusive drunk, and she walked out only months after their marriage. She assumes that he could not possibly still be walking around. 

A curiosity for me is that so far, no one has made one joke about her last name.
(With what I go through with my first name and married name, that must be Heaven on Earth!)

As with her “Poor Relations” and “Hamish Macbeth” series, Beaton’s stories are well-written, and compelling and the characters are well-defined. There is continuity throughout. The first  series I mentioned is the ‘cleanest cut’, Hamish is a bit more ‘adult’, though most people would laugh to hear me say so because they are tame, and Agatha’s stories are possibly the tamest of all, with all of them mentioning ‘relations’ and relationships, but at what would now probably only get a “PG” rating, although this girl would say “PG-13”, (or is it 14 now? This series seems to have M.C. Beaton’s one prejudice against we who are not amply endowed “Upstairs”, as my mother would say. Perhaps I am extra sensitive to it, however.)

All in all, I am enjoying her works and have been switching back and forth between Agatha and Hamish, with a few other writers’ works read or heard in between. With family and the nearly 3-yr old here, I’m barely going to get to read this.

I recommend this writer’s stories highly and if I get to the end of these, I will be looking for more of M.C. Beaton’s works.


About Tonette Joyce

Tonette was a once-fledgling lyricists-bookkeeper, turned cook/baker/restaurateur and is now exploring different writing venues,(with a stage play recently completed). She has had poetry and nonfiction articles published in the last few years. Tonette has been married to her only serious boyfriend for more than thirty years and she is, as one person described her, family-oriented almost to a fault. Never mind how others have described her, she is,(shall we say), a sometime traditionalist of eclectic tastes.She has another blog : "Tonette Joyce:Food,Friends,Family" here at WordPress.She and guests share tips and recipes for easy entertaining and helps people to be ready for almost anything.
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9 Responses to Another Agatha

  1. I have been going to try an Agatha Raisin book. I think I read a Hamish Macbeth one… about a fly-fishing school murder. I’ve also read book one of her “Poor Relations” series. I keep trying, because I like her themes and many readers/writers I respect like her books, but I find the characters (so far) just don’t pull me in. Maybe I haven’t struck the right book yet….

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it was the writing that got me. I almost gave up on the Poor Relations but it really grew on me. Of course, it could be that I really love a mystery and enjoy red herrings! My sister got me into the other Agatha’s books when I was about 18 and Hercule Poirot taught me to figure them out quite well. I also enjoy the continuity, the way the stories don’t end that the ‘reveal’, but set the pace for the settings.
      We all have our own tastes, and mine run all over the place. Thank Heaven that there is such diversity because I never read romances at all, and now I wrote one.
      Thank you so much for coming in, Charlotte! I truly appreciate it, and sharing ideas with you.


  2. Elaine Cantrell says:

    I’ve never read anything in the Poor Relations series, but I have read from both the other series. Somehow even though I see the merits of both series I never could get too invested. That being said, I may have agreed to review a book in the Hamish Macbeth series. I’ll have to check my calendar.


  3. Patricia Kiyono says:

    Agatha Raisin sounds like a hoot! I see there’s even a TV series about her. Looks like I’ve got another cozy mystery series to check out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You might, Patty. I heard some of the radio plays based on the books which were shortened, but very good. However, the Hamish Macbeth series turned me off immediately. Hamish in the books was nothing like the trashy fellow they showed in the show. I hope they do better by Agatha.


  4. Jeff Salter says:

    I haven’t read either series, but I know there are at least two BBC adaptations of her work (or her characters). Denise has watched some of these, including some of the MacBeth series. I think I watched one Raisin episode, expecting (based on the previews) something different than that episode delivered. I can’t now recall the what or why. Anyway, I lost interest and have not yet returned to try another episode.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, as I said in my “Hamish” book reviews, they totally trashed Hamish in the series; I only saw a couple of minutes of the first episode and was nearly sickened.I have no idea what they did with Agatha.As I told Patty, the radio plays are good.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: 2022 Goodreads Wrap-up | Four Foxes, One Hound

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