Penelope Keith - who starred as Agatha Raisin in the popular BBC Radio 4 series - reads M. C. Beaton's entertaining murder mystery. Incomer Gloria French is at first welcomed in the Cotswold village of Piddlebury. She seems like a do-gooder par excellence, raising funds for the church and caring for the elderly. But she has a bad habit of borrowing things and not giving them back, so when she is discovered dead, poisoned by a bottle of elderberry wine, folk in the village don't mourn her passing too intently.
Parish councillor Jerry Tarrant hires Agatha Raisin to track down the murderer. But the village is creepy and secretive and the residents don't seem to want Agatha to succeed. Plus, Agatha's investigations are hampered by the emotional upset of finding her ex, James Lacey, has fallen in love with young detective Toni Gilmour. And now the murderer is targeting Agatha...
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Not the old Aggie we know
Having put up with some fairly lack luster plots and characters in recent Agatha Raisin novels, I had convinced myself that this new release would see the formidable caustic amateur sleuth back to her best in another 'whodunnit' that provides wit and charm, in what is M.C.Beatons, brilliant style. This was not the case, and what I found was a book that it s hard to believe is written only by the author herself. There are flashes of the original Agatha, but then a few pages later the reader finds themselves reading about an Agatha who is a pale comparison of her former fiesty self. I accept that a character as well established as Agatha, may be difficult to sustain, but this book reads more as an allegory to a supporting cast of characters than to the exploits of the heroin herself. For a seasoned reader it will be another instalment in the series, not the best and it certainly will leave you wondering whether Agatha needs a shot of adrenalin and a better editor, for new readers this will leave you wondering what the fuss was all about. Read it without expectation and it will be worth it, but only out of a sense of nostalgia for the old Aggie