I was talking about the Agatha Raisin novels the other day and some people were really shocked that I liked them (aka judged me). ‘I think they must be your guilty pleasure’ one of these new acquaintances said (though how long we will be acquaintances after Raisin-Gate I am not sure), my response was ‘well maybe… only without the guilt’. For me Agatha Raisin is someone, I know she isn’t actually real, who I turn to when I am feeling a bit down in the dumps or when I need a break for some of the more thought provoking literature I might have devoured. I seem to have tripped myself up there and accidentally sounded like a snob, I am not a snob, I love these books and part of reading is about simple escapism and reading pleasure and that for me is Agatha Raisin.
You know what you are getting when you open an Agatha Raisin. People are going to get murdered, most likely in Carsley where Agatha lives (unless, as is her want sometimes, she has taken us on holiday with her) and that Agatha is going to somehow end up snooping and trying to solve the murder whilst getting the backs up of all the police, suspects and loved one surrounding the case of the deceased, generally through offending with her blunt personality and endless sarcasm. We have all this once more with ‘Agatha Raisin and the Love from Hell’ only this story has even more of a personal twist for one of the suspects, who promptly disappears, is James Lacey, Agatha’s husband.
In fact the whole Agatha and James thing, which has been going on throughout the eleven books so far and I am guessing will continue to do, is in many ways the heart of this book. Things have not been marital bliss for Agatha and James, they live in separate houses though next door to each other for one, and after James thinks Agatha has had an affair with Sir Charles (another recurring character in Agatha’s life) he has an affair with Melissa, a local bit of stuff, who then ends up dead and prime suspect number one, James, vanishes. Of course the reader knows where but it is up to Agatha to find out and clear his name whilst doing so and of course I am not going to spoil this one any further.
I will be honest and say that ‘Agatha Raisin and the Love from Hell’ wasn’t my favourite of the series so far but I did really enjoy it. I enjoyed going back to the Cotswolds and catching up with the acidic and very funny if heartbroken, Agatha and also seeing Mrs Bloxby, Roy Silver and Bill Wong and how they were all getting on. I also enjoyed following the trail of clues and red herrings and not having a clue who the killer was until just the right moment. It’s was just the escapism I was craving and reminded me why I have an Agatha on the bedside at all times, you never know when you might need that comfort read one dark winters (or summers, or any evening really) night.
Are you a fan of the Agatha Raisin series? Have any of you read the other series by M.C.Beaton, or the stand alone novels and how did you get on? I haven’t ventured yet. And what, if you have one, is your guilty free guilty pleasure read?