Agatha Raisin and the Witch of Wyckhadden/Agatha Raisin and the Fairies of Fryfam – M. C. Beaton

I don’t think I have ever multiple reviewed in a blog post before but I thought I would make an exception today and write about not one but two books. Last week I was having dreadful sleeping problems and it just leaves you feeling in a real funk. I had some big books I really wanted to read before my reading life is taken over for a few months and yet I simply wasn’t in the mood. All I wanted was crime, and on one specific day I needed it cosy and lashings of it so I greedily read ‘Agatha Raisin and the Witch of Wyckhadden’ and went straight from that to ‘Agatha Raisin and the Fairies of Fryam’ sometimes you just have to be a glutton and these were perfect for the lethargic mood I was in though one of them more so than the other.

I like to read any series in the correct order (though I did jump ahead of myself reading the festive ‘Kissing Christmas Goodbye’ last December) and so first up was ‘The Witch of Wyckhadden’. After her last involvement in solving a murder leaves her looking some what less than her best, Agatha Raisin runs away to a seaside village by that famous old tradition of closing your eyes and putting your finger on the map. Wyckhadden is one of those seaside town that during the summer months can be ‘the place to be’ and yet in the autumn isn’t such a delectable place to stop, in fact it’s a bit of a ghost town and seems to be filled with old people who despite not actually being that much older than Agatha she doesn’t want to be associated with. Yet when one of them recommends a ‘local witch’ to help with a hair problem who ends up dead the next day Agatha needs to befriend them in order to try and solve the mystery by herself.   

I love M.C. Beaton’s wit and this novel was brimming with it. Agatha is her normal sharp and snappish self, and yet manages to attract the attention of one of the local policeman in a rather romantic way. I could just be reading far too much into it but this book did seem to be saying something about old age and how you, or Agatha, might think that old people are past it they most certainly aren’t they do still feel young and quite naughty at heart and you should never judge people on instant appearances. There is a brilliant makeover scene though which had me smiling away to myself. This is a book that will have you itching to read the rest. 7/10. (Which is why I then went and grabbed the next one almost instantly.)

‘Agatha Raisin and the Fairies of Fryfam’ sees Agatha heading to Norfolk, again with her ‘wherever a finger lands on the map’ routine on the word of a fortune teller she saw in her previous adventure in the seaside town of Wyckhadden. Once there she finds that really maybe she should have stayed back in her home in the village of Carsley, especially when rather ominous twinkling lights start to appear at the bottom of her rented garden. However when the lord of the manor is murdered Agatha decides to stay on before being forced to when police discover a draft of a book Agatha started (to show off to all new acquaintances in the village that she is a budding author) has the exact same opening murder scene as the one they found at the manor. Agatha therefore feels she has no choice, or so she tells herself, but to clear her name by finding the real killer.

I don’t really know why but this one didn’t work as well for me as Agatha’s adventures in amateur detecting normally do with me. There seemed to be too many characters and strands, which didn’t even become red herrings, and yet nothing really happened either – oh apart from a Stubbs painting getting stolen. Then when the murderer was caught the motive felt a bit ‘meh’ and it didn’t all seem to make sense. It lacked something and sort of, and I feel mean saying this because I do love this series despite how uncool or unliterary it may make me, felt rather like a filler in the series. Yet something happens towards the very end, rather too hurriedly if you ask me, that if you missed this book you might feel thrown between the books on either side of this one. I am hoping this is just a small blip in a rather wonderful cosy crime series. 5/10

You know if I did a ‘suggestions for perfect prose partners’ it would only be me saying start from the beginning of the series if you haven’t, so I won’t suggest anything other than that. Are there any other Agatha addicts out there? Any new converts to this series? Has anyone heard the radio series as I am absolutely desperate to I think Penelope Keith must be wonderful in it. Oh and there will be a BIG Agatha Raisin competition coming up on the release of the 21st book in the series in October so keep your eyes peeled then!

I have just spotted a revamped series of M.C. Beatons ‘Edwardian Mysteries’ are coming out, which were originally published under her real name Marion Chesney, with delightful titles such as ‘Snobbery with Violence’ and ‘Our Lady of Pain’ has anyone read those, as I am now desperate to?

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18 Comments

Filed under Agatha Raisin, Constable & Robinson Publishing, M.C. Beaton, Review

18 responses to “Agatha Raisin and the Witch of Wyckhadden/Agatha Raisin and the Fairies of Fryfam – M. C. Beaton

  1. I have read a few Agatha Raisin books – they are good for moments when you need to read something effortless. Are they not a little bit pastiche though? I feel as if M.C. Beaton is trying a bit too self-consciously to be the new Agatha Christie. Having said that – these books do exactly what they say on the tin and are enjoyable escapism.

    • I think they are definitley pastiche but the more I read the more I become convinced that they stand up in their own right, there’s a great set of love dilemmas for Agatha and the characters as they go on progress and you become a part of Carsley. I will say Fairies of Fryfam seemed very very formulaic which might be why it didnt work as well for me as they normally do. Also its quite modern and Agatha is by no means charming like am detectives should be.

  2. When I started reading the Agatha books she reminded me so much of a character in a historical novel I had read some twenty years ago by one Marion Chesney and of course then discovered it was one and the same.

    I love these books and sat and read them all in one gulp, as I always do. They are formualaic and very silly at times but they have enormous charm and I find myself in great sympathy with Agatha and her sometimes loneliness and wishing to find love. She is also very very funny.

    I have just binged on the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich as you will see from my side bar over on Random, and they are enormous fun, pure escapism and I can recommend them if you need a break from the Green Carnation read-a-thon coming up!

    • I love Agatha and shes not the most loveable character and yet I do adore her she makes me laugh and thats what I want from this series and it does it all brilliantly, I love it and am not ashammed its nice to see others feel exactly the same.

      Hmmm I am not sure on the Plum books, especially as I had a little email I have a few other series coming before Christmas.

  3. Mae

    You converted me awhile back and I now absolutely adore Agatha Raisin. They’re a huge comfort read for me too and Aggie never fails to amuse me with her social awkwardness. The books makes me crave a little cottage in a place like Cotsworld though…except without the murders, thank you very much!

  4. gaskella

    I’ve read the first three, but found that although they’re very quick and fun, they are rather formulaic and throwaway for me. I did like Penelope Keith in the Radio 4 adaptations though, and when I read the books, I could only think of her in the role.

    • They can be formualic and throwaway but sometimes thats what you need, cleverly though the more that you read the more you get into the friendships and goings on of both Raisins life and village life which becomes rather addictive.

  5. karen

    I love the Agatha Raisin books (tho the quote on every cover about her being like Miss Marple is so ridiculous it makes me seethe every time I see it!), yes they’re formulaic but they’re great for a nice, quick escapist read with just the hint of an edge. My 14 year old daughter and my husband love them too and we also enjoy them on audio book. Penelope Keith is brilliant at being the non-nonsense Agatha, but James Lacey is a very different character and they are definitely watered down; good fun though. We ‘do an Agatha’ in our house if we respond to something or someone a little too bluntly!!!

  6. Pingback: A Cosy Mystery That Hits The Spot « Gaskella

  7. I came across Agatha Raisin when my mother-in-law sent me the first three or four books some years ago in her annual Christmas parcel from England.
    Ever since, I’ve made sure not to miss any of the books, and my current read is the one that has only just been released, “Busy Body”.
    Of course, Agatha is nothing at all like Miss Marple, so I don’t know why they keep putting that on the back of the books.
    Speaking of converts – I’ve managed to turn my mum into one 🙂

  8. Graham Smith

    I have only read one of these books (Love, Lies and Liquor) – right to the bitter end as I found it incredible. I.e. it is unbelievable that it could have been published in the first place. The standard of writing gives the impression that English is the author’s second language. The plot makes that of a Carry On film look sensible. The dialogue shows that M C Beaton never actually listens to what anyone says – certainly no real person talks like the characters in the book do. How so many of these books have reached print I do not know.

    Graham Smith

    • Ha this made me laugh Graham. I really enjoy these as a light hearted read between some of the other heavier books I also enjoy. I don’t think it’s realistic in fact I think M.C. Beaton is rather aware, and embracing, a certain pastiche. Long may she continue to do so. I am happy to just read them and enjoy now and again.

  9. Hello savidgereads, have you had a chance yet to read “As the Pig Turns”? I’ve finished it a week or so ago, and it was once again a typical “Agatha” read 🙂 Quite fun, and I was torn between wanting to know what’s going to happen next and wanting to read slower to make it last longer… I’ve posted a review on my blog, if you are interested.

    • No I haven’t and I am holding back a little from doing so. I am still only on Agatha Raisin and the Day the Floods Came as I am reading them here and there and not wanting to run out of them, though I am now sufficiently behind as to think its time to devour a few more.

      I will pop and check your review out, though I might only read the start and end so I know nothing of the plot.

  10. Ann

    I am a huge Agatha Raisin fan. I need to read six more books and I’ve finished her series up to date except the very newest Hiss and Hers. Love love love them!

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