Book Review: Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener by M. C. Beaton

Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener is the third book in the Agatha Raisin series by M. C. Beaton.

Summary (from back of book)

Agatha is taken aback when she finds a new woman ensconced in the affections of her attractive bachelor neighbour, James Lacey.  The beautiful Mary Fortune is superior in every way, especially when it comes to gardening – and with Carsely Garden Open Day looming, Agatha feels this deficiency acutely.

So when Mary is discovered murdered, buried upside down in a plant pot, Agatha seizes the moment and immediately starts yanking up village secrets by their roots and digging the dirt on the hapless victim.  But is this wise?  For Agatha has an awkward secret too…

Favourite Quote

Despite the fact that she was still married, although she had not seen her husband for years, did not want to, and had practically forgotten his existence, she felt exactly like the spinster of the village, cats and all.

Review

I love these stories; they are addictive cosy little mysteries which means that they are quick to read, and easy to become engrossed in.  I do find it impossible to put these books down once I start, and once I finish them I want to pick the next in the series up right away.

The residents of Carsely are fantastic and familiar, which makes these stories a joy to read.  With each instalment in the series we learn something new about them.  Agatha is back to her old self from the first book in this story with her competitive streak doing its best to get her into trouble. Bill Wong, James Lacey and Roy Silver are a great supporting cast for Agatha’s adventures.

The murder in The Potted Gardener is certainly imaginative.  I wonder how the author came up with the idea!

I can’t recommended this series highly enough to those who enjoy a humorous, slightly outlandish cosy mystery set in a picture perfect English village.

Rating

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Book Review: Agatha Raisin and the Vicious Vet by M.C. Beaton

Agatha Raisin and the Vicious Vet is the second book in the Agatha Raisin series of books by M.C. Beaton.

Summary (from back of book)

Retired PR boss Agatha Raisin is enjoying life in her pretty Cotswold village of Carsely.  It even seems likely that the attractive new vet, Paul Bladen, has taken a shine to her.  But before romance can blossom, Paul is killed in an accident with Lord Pendlebury’s horse.  Only the circumstances are rather suspicious.  So Agatha decides she must once more play amateur investigator…And this cloud has a silver lining – she can persuade her usually stand-offish neighbour, James Lacey, to become her partner in the quest.  As usual, Agatha is quite prepared to rush in, heedless of the lurking menace to both James and herself.

Favourite Quote

‘I am not sweet sixteen,’ said Agatha huffily.

‘Exactly.’

That ‘exactly’ seemed to Agatha to be saying, ‘You are a middle-aged woman easily flattered by the attentions of a younger man.’

Review

These books are so enjoyable, so readable and so funny.

Agatha Raisin makes a wonderful main character. The shortcomings in her personality (namely her rude and abrasive attitude) are mechanisms to counter her vulnerabilities; protective measures she has needed in the past to prevent her from getting hurt, and that is quite cleverly demonstrated within the narrative.

As Agatha’s antics unfold, I do find myself cringing, and desperately willing her to change her mind, or do something else that will spare her from the next embarrassing moment she is creating for herself.

The mystery around the death of the vet is a good one; there are many suspects to choose from because he is such a horrid character.  Bill Wong is wonderful as Agatha’s police connection, and James Lacey as the focus of her romantic interest is entertaining to be behold as he does his best to avoid her one minute and then wants to sleuth with her the next.

This is turning out to be one of my favourite cosy mystery series. Great fun!

Rating

 

Book Review: Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death by M. C. Beaton

Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death is the first book in the Agatha Raisin series by M.C. Beaton.

Summary (from back of book)

High-flying public relations supremo Agatha Raisin has decided to take early retirement.  She’s off to make anew life in a picture-perfect Cotswold village.  To make friends, she enters the local quiche-making competition – and to make quite sure of first prize she secretly pays a visit to a London deli.

Alas, the competition judge succumbs after tasting her perfect quiche, and Agatha is revealed as a cheat and potential poisoner.  definitely not the best start.  So Agatha must turn amateur sleuth – she’s absolutely got to track down the real killer!

Favourite Quote

Prettiness did not necessarily invite pretty people.

*

A faint idea was stirring somewhere in her brain that Agatha Raisin was not a very lovable person.

Review

Having read and really enjoyed the Hamish Macbeth series from the same author, I wondered whether this series could live up to the other one in my eyes.  I needn’t have feared – it turns out I love Agatha Raisin just as much as Hamish Macbeth.  Although some of her thoughts and actions are questionable, it wasn’t hard to warm to her.

As a character she is extremely well-written because she is flawed and can be mean but you like her any way.  At first she doesn’t come across as likeable, but the further you read and the more you get to know her, the more likeable she becomes.  The other characters are just as entertaining, my other favourites being Bill Wong and James Lacey.

The setting is wonderful, the pace of the story quick, the humour good, and the story engaging.  All-in-all, a charming, quick read.

This is one of my favourite reads of the year and I am glad that I finally discovered Agatha Raisin for myself.  Having read the first book in the series, I very quickly found myself devouring books two and three!  I was hooked from the first page, and can’t wait to read more.

If you enjoy cosy mysteries that make you laugh, I recommend you have a read of this series, and this first book is a great place to start.

Rating

Book Review: Death at a Drop-In by Elizabeth Spann Craig

Death at A Drop-In is the fifth book in the Myrtle Clover Mysteries by Elizabeth Spann Craig.

Summary (from Goodreads)

Cosette Whitlow is a society matron…if tiny Bradley, North Carolina, has one. She kindly volunteers for all the town’s charities, but isn’t nearly as kind to her own family, neighbors, and friends. In fact, Cosette is emphatically disliked by much of the town—including octogenarian Myrtle Clover. And Myrtle knows that dislike in Bradley can quickly turn deadly.

No one seems surprised when Cosette’s body is discovered during a party she’s hosting—she was struck on the head with a croquet mallet. Wanting to restore order to the small town, Myrtle resolves to track down the killer—before the killer strikes again.

Favourite Quotes

Two knitting related quotes – I couldn’t chose between them 🙂

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“Knitting makes me feel old.  It made me feel old when I was twenty and doing it.”

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“Well, I like to snoop more than I like to knit, that’s for sure.”

*

Review

I wanted something light and fun and easy to dip in and out of while participating in NaNoWriMo (and yay! I finished the challenge on the 24th November!  Woohoo!), and this fit the bill perfectly.  I love Myrtle.  She’s great and has a wonderful attitude to life.  And, just like Miss Marple, people assume her to be old and doddering rather than sharp and alert – more fool them!

As the for other characters around her – Miles, Red, Erma, Wanda – they are also entertaining.  The story line is easy to follow and allows you to easily immerse yourself in what’s going on.  This quick read is well-paced and there is enough humour to put a smile on the face of the reader.

Although this book is number five in the series it reads just as well as a stand alone novel (the only other Myrtle Clover Mystery I have read is A Body in the Backyard which is the fourth book in the series).

This character / series / author has been one of my great bookish finds of 2017, and I’m looking forward to reading more. If you enjoy cosy mysteries, I recommend you take at look the Myrtle Clover Mysteries.  They’re just so much fun.

Rating

Book Review: The Devil’s Priest by Kate Ellis

Summary (from back of book)

In 1539 King Henry VII is completing his ruthless destruction of England’s monasteries and the ripples of this seismic change are felt even in the small northern port of Liverpool.  A pregnant novice nun, Agnes Moore, ejected from her convent and staying with resentful relatives, claims to have been attacked in the ancient chapel of St Mary del Quay on Liverpool’s waterfront by Satan himself.  Her former abbess, Lady Katheryn Bulkeley, comes to her aid but Agnes refuses to identify her lover.

When a young priest is found dead in the River Mersey, his right hand hacked off, Katheryn realises that Liverpool harbours some disturbing secrets.  Then Agnes is brutally murdered after which corpses are subsequently found mutilated in the churchyard.  What is the link with Agnes’ death?

Katheryn slowly uncovers the secrets of Liverpool’s dark side as she seeks Agnes’ killer amongst the town’s highest and lowest citizens.  As she draws closer to the truth, she faces the most urgent question of all, Why has such evil come to Liverpool and who is The Devil’s Priest?

Favourite Quote

It was difficult to calculate his age, but it must have taken many years to cultivate the characteristic stoutness of an ardent ale drinker.

Review

This is the first book I’ve read by Kate Ellis and I enjoyed it.  I liked the author’s style of writing and I am looking forward to reading some of her other books.

The Devil’s Priest is an interesting tale, full of interesting characters and with plenty of twists and turns.  Lady Katheryn Bulkeley was a real former abbess living at the time the story was set.  Her backstory combined with this fictional mystery makes for entertaining reading and a gripping yarn.  The supporting cast of characters were also good: Valentine, the apothecary; Bartholomew, the ferryman; and Jane, Katheryn’s young maid who enjoys a good gossip.

The Liverpool in the book is pretty unrecognisable compared to the great port city of today, so it was interesting to learn about how it would have looked nearly five hundred years ago.  Before reading this, I didn’t know that the famous “ferry across the Mersey” was run by the monks of Birkenhead Priory up until the dissolution of the monasteries.

I sincerely wish that this hadn’t been a standalone book – it would have made the perfect historical mystery series.  So, I am going to deduct half a star from my rating because of my disappointment.  Only joking – that would be mean and this book fully deserves it four stars.

Rating

Book Review: The Case of the Bygone Brother by Diane Burton

The Case of the Bygone Brother is the first book in the Alex O’Hara series by Diane Burton

Summary (from Goodreads)

After taking over O’Hara Palzetti, Confidential Investigations from her dad and his partner, Alex O’Hara’s bottom line has taken a plunge. So when a femme fatale offers her the case of a lifetime along with a huge advance, Alex sees her finances on a definite upswing. But someone doesn’t want her to find the long-lost brother. Complicating matters is the return of Alex’s old heartthrob, Nick Palzetti. Is he really there just to see her or does he have an ulterior motive? The Lake Michigan resort town of Fair Haven is abuzz with the news that O’Hara Palzetti are together again.

Favourite Quote

While my cheeks burned at the memory of that unwanted kiss, I silently cursed my fair Irish complexion.  Genetics betrayed me every time.  “Knuckle-dragger is right,” I said.  “I guess you didn’t stay long enough to see me deck him.”

Review

This is an entertaining little read; romance, suspense, humour, danger…it has everything an interesting cosy mystery needs.

I liked both Alex O’Hara and Nick Palzetti.  She’s determined to make it on her own and is a right little miss independent, while he just wants to protect her and keep her safe.  So, of course, this creates a great deal of tension between the main characters.

The pace felt a little off (too fast) towards the end but throughout the rest of the book, the story moved along at a good pace.  There were enough plot twists and turns to keep me wondering what was going to happen next.  Fair Haven was the perfect setting for this story, with it’s small shops and people who know everyone else (and everyone else’s business).  There were a number of references, especially close to the beginning that were reminiscent of old-school detective novels, which I found charming.

The second book in the series is The Case of the Fabulous Fiance, which sounds just as entertaining as the first.

Rating

I read The Case of the Bygone Brother by Diane Burton via Wattpad

Book Review: Raining Men and Corpses by Anne. R. Tan

Raining Men and Corpses is the first book in the Raina Sun Mysteries by Anne R Tan.

Summary (from Smashwords)

When it rains, it pours … and this amateur sleuth may be in over her head.

Graduate student Raina Sun is trying to keep her head above water as the bills roll in when her dashing college adviser cons her out of several months of rent. Her quest to retrieve the money sets in motion a streak of even worse luck.

First, she stumbles on her advisor’s dead body and becomes a suspect in his murder. Next, the only man she’s ever loved reappears as the lead detective to the case. Raina’s having trouble interpreting his signals–does he want to reignite their passion, or just stay close to his prime suspect?

Her life careens further out of control when her grandma shows up at Raina’s postage-stamp-sized apartment, dragging a red suitcase and trouble of her own. As Raina summons her sleuthing skills, she discovers that when it comes to murder, there may be no place for an amateur.

Favourite Quote

Who wouldn’t want to spend time with the human embodiment of milk and cookies?

Review

What really caught my attention about this series were the fun covers and the light-hearted, murder-related names for the books. They looked and sounded entertaining; other titles include Gusty Lovers and Cadavers, Breezy Friends and Bodies, Barmy Darlings and Deaths, and Sunny Mates and Murders.  There was no way I was going to miss giving the first book in the series a try.  And of course, by this point I already had high hopes for this story…

What did I like about the book?  The main character, Raina, is from an Asian American background, which is very fresh and exciting, and rather unusual for cosy mysteries.  It was nice to read something so different.

What didn’t I like so much?  I found this book a little slow going, not because of the pace, but because I just couldn’t seem to get into it and when I did, it didn’t hold my attention for too long.  That being said, I was interested in finding out who murdered Holden (I had guessed who the culprit was), so carried on reading until the end.  I wasn’t really a big fan of many of the characters, the exception being Raina’s grandmother, Po Po.  She was fantastic.

Will I be reading the second book in the Raina Sun Mysteries, Gusty Lovers and Cadavers?  I’m not sure, although looking at its reviews on Goodreads, its average rating is higher than Raining Men and Corpses so I might succumb.  Have you read this book / series?  If so, what were your thoughts?

Rating

My rating: 2.5 / 5

 

I downloaded a copy of Raining Men and Corpses by Anne R Tan for FREE via Smashwords