Author: M.C Beaton
Protagonist: Agatha Raisin
Other Character(s): Mary Fortune, James Lacey, Bill
Synopsis: Agatha returns to her small town from a holiday to find James, her neighbor and secret crush, having a relationship with the newcomer, Mary Fortune. Much to Agatha’s dismay, it seems that everyone loves her and she too eventually grows fond of her. As the Garden Day competition slowly comes to the little village, small petty crimes has been occurring: Roses being uprooted, fishes dying, etc. Then a body is found hanging upside down in a potted vase. The village is left shocked and uncertain of who could have done such a heinous act of violence.
Review: The first time I read Agatha Raisin I fell in love with the characters, the setting and the narration. So far I’ve been only listening to the audiobook, and I love every minute of it. I especially enjoyed the first two since it’s the BBC radio drama special. The third book, however, is just regular audio, but I’m not complaining since the narrator is the same person, just minus all the special sound effects.
Now onto the actual story. As most cozy books, I usually get to tell who the murderer is before the final reveal, here I’m sad to say I was clueless. I’m not really sure if the reason is because the killer is well hidden, or I just listened to the audio while partially asleep and exhausted from travelling. Either way, the killer was unexpected in my part.
Leading up to the actual climactic part of the story, meaning the death of the victim, I really enjoyed reading about the small stories of the different characters that Beaton introduces in this book. I always enjoy cozies that dig deeper into the stories of other characters besides the protagonist. I’m not saying that Agatha is not a worthy one, but learning more about her neighbors and her surrounding is just as enjoyable. Speaking of protagonists, Agatha is fast becoming one of my favorites. She’s spunky, and easy to voice out her opinions but at the same time she is kind and willing to defend her friends. She’s very temperamental, but that just adds to her charm. I especially like how the narrator makes her sound standoff-ish and yet she’s being kind to people, giving them gifts from her travels. The one character that did standout in this book is Mary, not in a good way. In all honesty, she is way too nice for a real person that it can’t all be genuine. Plus, the readers really do get to see her true colors when Beaton adds small tidbits of the other characters thoughts.
As for the whole killing ordeal in this book I think it’s very interesting how the author wrote it. The way the victim was killed off was really creepy and a little disturbing. There’s no gory details, but to put someone’s body in such a humiliating way is a little uncalled for. It’s an interesting read, but just a little different from the common deaths of other cozy mysteries.
I think in terms of ‘cliched cozies’, Beaton’s Agatha Raisin is trying to veer away from it. There are instances that are similar to other cozies, but the differences is very much apparent and obviously welcomed. This series, for me, is getting better and better. Hopefully its standards will be continuous and not conform to the other cozies.
Ending: I’m not sure if it’s evident in my review, but the person who gets killed is obviously Mary Fortune. Although she appears to be a saint, upon her death stories arise of her actually being a cruel person. At one point she told one of the villagers that they are dull and dowdy. When trying to better themselves, Mary laughed at her face. Those that preyed victim to her verbal abuse kept it hidden because it seems like everyone loves her and so they kept their mouth shut.
After her death we also learn that she was suffering from depression and could have been the cause of her vile actions. Nothing was confirmed, but only speculated.
Not so obvious to me, the killer was the guy who’s fishes got killed. Unfortunately, I forgot his name, blame it to old age. Falling victim to Mary’s charm, she flirted and ‘seduced’ him, only to be shut down when he asked her to dinner. It is also believed that Mary was the perpetrator that inflicted the small crimes in the community. Therefore, the killer of the goldfishes is none other than Mary, who’s fishes belongs to the said man. So, to avenge both himself and his goldfishes, who he treated as family, he killed Mary without remorse.