Agatha Raisin and the Vicious Vet by M.C.Beaton

I’ve been on a bit of an Agatha Raisin binge recently and although I enjoyed this one I’m going to take a wee bit of a rest from M.C. Beaton for a while.

This is the second Agatha book, I’ve been reading them all out of order. At the beginning of this one Agatha has just got back from a holiday in the Bahamas where she went on the spur of the moment, right after she hears that it was James Lacey’s holiday destination. She’s usually shameless in her pursuit of James, but even Agatha was mortified when she realised that James had got wind of her intention to follow him and he had changed his plans at the last minute.

On Agatha’s return she finds that a new vet has set up business in her home village of Carsley. The women of the village are queuing up for his attentions, but there’s something strange about him, it isn’t long before Agatha is embroiled in murder yet again.

I had wondered how Agatha ended up with two cats, she started off with Hodge, he was named by James Lacey apparently and Agatha didn’t realise that Hodge was the name of Samuel Johnson’s cat. When she acquires another cat she names the new one Boswell. I had always wondered how the unliterary Agatha had ended up with a Hodge and Boswell. Mystery solved.

The new Sonia Wayward by Michael Innes

The new Sonia Wayward

I’ve been meaning to participate in the Crime Fiction Alphabet hosted by Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise, for weeks now, but somehow I was always just too late. Anyway, here I go now, this week’s letter is N and I’ve read a Michael Innes book which was first published in 1960.

The new Sonia Wayward is an unusual book because there are no really likeable characters in it, which for me anyway is usually a real turn off in a book but this one manages to overcome that huge disadvantage.

It begins with the very sudden death of Colonel Ffolliot Petticate’s wife, Sonia Wayward, whilst they are out sailing in their small yacht. It’s a financial disaster for her husband as Sonia was earning the money as a writer of very popular fiction. The colonel is retired from the army and only has a small pension to live on.

After imbibing a large quantity of whisky to settle his nerves, he decides to dispose of Sonia overboard, with the intention of telling everyone that she is travelling, it’s important to pretend that she’s still alive, so that he can continue to live his very comfortable life. He takes on the task of finishing Sonia’s latest novel and fends off all inquiries as to Sonia’s whereabouts.

At the beginning the Colonel decides to keep the lies and deceit to the minimum, but they multiply like crazy and he finds himself in a very sticky situation when his live-in servants become suspicious as to the fate of their employer.

That’s really just the bare bones of the book as I don’t like to say too much about crime fiction, but this book is absolutely full of twists and turns from the very beginning and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Michael Innes was born in Edinburgh in 1906, was educated at Edinburgh University and Oriel College, Oxford and went on to become a Professor of English at various universities. He had a very long writing career which you can read about here. He also wrote under his real name, J.I.M. Stewart, and those books are also well worth reading.