Agatha’s Sloppiest Adventure To Date

Author: M.C. Beaton

Lord Bellington, an unpopular local lord looking to sell off village allotments for profit, is dead and only Agatha Raisin is suspicious. When the police start to focus on the sole heir, however, he gives in and hires Agatha to solve his father’s death. But who could it be? It seemed that everyone had a reason to hate the late Lord, from his insipid children to the local villagers to his on-again-off-again mistress.

Meanwhile, a new man moves into view. Gerald is an ex-police detective looking for the comfort of village life and causing quite a stir among the ladies, including Mrs. Bloxby herself! When Agatha sets her sites on the eligible bachelor, despite her friends’ warnings, she is soon crushed. Gerald has taken up with the new woman in town, Peta, who is soon found murdered, buried in the contested allotment. Is there a connection between the late Lord and the new sexy lady in town, or are the Cotswolds just extra murderous this season? It’s up to Agatha and her inimitable detectives, with the occasional breezy help from Sir Charles Fraith, to put together a picture of murder most foul before the killer strikes again.

This is Agatha’s 27th adventure. The bodies have been hitting the floor in a torrent, and the village of Carslie must be the murder capital of the world by this point, yet little has changed. Agatha continues to fret about her age and marital status, have on-again-off-again dreams of connection with Charles, be extremely jealous of the women around her, and blunder into complicated murder plots. By this point in the series, everything has been recycled and no one is growing. The characters’ foibles started off as charming, but by this point we, like them, are jaded. Everyone here is selfish, willing to lie, usurious, and petty, including our dear Agatha and even Mrs. Bloxby this time! None of these are people you’d want in your life, and they all pretty much get what they deserve. Yet we keep reading. Somehow, we care, even as we’re wondering if diagnoses of sociopathy are in order for all of them. I cannot explain why I’m still invested, and why I’m still interested in the maybe-they-will, maybe-they-won’t side story with Sir Charles. Suffice it to say, if you’re still reading at this point with me, you know that the series has some sort of dark magic that won’t let its fans move on to greener pastures.

Image by TAI-Design from Pixabay

In Pushing Up Daisies, however, everything is definitely sloppier than usual. The investigation is haphazard, and Toni and Simon, as well as a new side character named Jake, do most of the work. Aggie is in the backdrop, dreaming of romance, complaining about her high heels, and redoing her makeup at every available opportunity. Everyone is asleep at the switch, and the murder victims and villagers hardly demand sympathy anyway. There are a lot of red herrings, and this time the murders themselves are not even connected (what was the deal with the random decapitated dude, and why did no one ever investigate that?)

The conclusion offers itself with a very aware snideness, Agatha herself even remarks that this time she didn’t solve the crime and she wasn’t really involved. A bunch of small side stories come and go, focusing on the characters failed romancing of each other, and finally it just ends, a lifeless heap of stories and moments of life glued together with Agatha being the loose connector. The villain is also very, very obvious from the beginning.

For fans, it’s not a bad read. We’re entertained, still interested, and even finally get some good news for our beloved Bill Wong, but this is certainly not one of the best in the series. As a matter of fact, it’s one of the worst – lazy writing, lazy plotting, unlikable characters, and zero real development. Still, I enjoyed it for what it was, and I’m not going anywhere. The mystery of why Agatha and her village of viciousness still appeals will remain unsolved, and I’ll continue to indulge in the occasionally cozy violence in quaint, deadly Carslie.

– Frances Carden

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Frances Carden
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