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?