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Pushing up the Daisies

M C Beaton
Another in the lengthy series of Agatha Raisin books but the first to be reviewed on this site. For those who have not read the books or see the TV series, Agatha Raisin is a middle aged woman, currently without a partner although she has high hopes of changing that, but more later. She used to be a very successful advertising and marketing person with her own business in London; however she became bored and restless and wanted out of the London rat-race so moved to the Cotswolds. She found a lovely village with all the peace and quiet she was looking for – then promptly went out of her way to change it, much to the chagrin of the locals!

In the course of time Agatha became the local private detective in that she would poke her nose into affairs, usually murders (and there are a lot of them in that area!) making her very unpopular with the local police. The books are a gentle dig at modern life and a woman going through the difficult stages of approaching middle age, without a partner.

In this book there are several storylines flowing through, all intertwined but all involving murder of someone for no apparent reason. I don’t want to go too deeply into the plot as that would spoil the book should you wish to take it up, but as Agatha explores each event they link on to other events and in the process she picks up a young stray man and takes him under her wing, and duvet which she immediately regrets! Agatha is persistent, continually getting in the way of others, especially the police, trampling over peoples’ feelings and the police investigations; but above all she is bossy and always wants her own way – which she usually gets. In the end Agatha is able to unravel the stories being told and unveiling the murderers before the police do. All this done while balancing a job of running a detective agency, joining in the local community with its fairs etc and trying to pin down a partner, and there are two people in line for that job, neither of whom are too keen for the role.

For all her pushiness and thrust in finding the killers, Agatha is quite insecure in herself. She feels very keenly the onset of middle-age and is keenly aware that she does not have a partner. As I said two people are in line, in Agatha’s mind, for that role, but neither one is really up for it or even aware they are the target. This is an ongoing theme for Agatha and reminds us of her place in life even though she is the lead and eponymous character. The whole love-life saga adds to the comedy in the storytelling.

While the subject is murder and therefore very serious, this is a gentle story of an ambitious, pushy woman used to getting her own way with a burning desire to solve cases and getting the whole story. If it is in advance of the police all the better. Having watched the TV series before reading this book I have the picture of Agatha in my mind as Ashley Jenson the actress but she is a bit more glamorous than the written character so I had to re-adjust a bit, but nonetheless this is an enjoyable read which will not tax the little grey cells too much.

3/5 Mr Mushroomheads

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