Agatha Raisin and the Wellspring of Death by M.C. Beaton

I’m just trying to clear up the books which I’ve been reading recently, making way for a clean start when 2014 comes around. I did enjoy this one more than some of the other Agatha Raisin books which I’ve read this year. I prefer the earlier ones, when Agatha was still a bit of an amateur sleuth. When she sets up her own detective agency they lose some of their charm for me. I think there are just too many uninteresting characters in the shape of her employees.

In this one a villager has decided to sell the water from her well to a company who will bottle it to sell as mineral water. Many of the other Carsely inhabitants are up in arms about it as you can imagine and as ever murder ensues.

Agatha is still pining for her neighbour James Lacey who as men go is a bit of a waste of space really, if only she would realise it!

Library Sale Haul

books

Last Saturday my local library had another booksale. The last couple of sales I was really lucky to get some good history books but no such luck this time, in fact the selection of non-fiction was poor so I didn’t buy any.

I did end up buying plenty more fiction though, and honestly I need more books like a hole in the head but we can’t pass up a library booksale as we would be wondering what gems we had missed out on.

So my haul was:

Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D.James. I know that a lot of people have been disappointed with this book but I like P.D. James and I thought that at a cost of 50p I’d give it a go anyway.

Frederica by Georgette Heyer. I really prefer Heyer’s murder mysteries but I’m reading her regency romances too, although I already have about half a dozen unread ones in my pile.

Problem at Pollensa Bay by Agatha Christie. This is a collection of her short stories which I think will be interesting.

Sweet Danger by Margery Allingham. This is an Albert Campion book from 1933, my favourite crime fiction era.

Death of a Valentine by M.C.Beaton. I’ve just realised that this is a Hamish Macbeth murder mystery and I’ve only tried one of those and I gave up on it fairly early on, oh well, I might give it a go anyway.

Agatha Raisin and the Wellspring of Death by M.C.Beaton. Sometimes Agatha is exactly what I want to read, daft but somehow comforting.

The Kellys of Kelvingrove by Margaret Thomson Davis. I don’t think I’ve read anything by this author before, if I ever did it was way back in the mists of time. My mother was a fan of her books though, it was the title which caught my eye as the Kelvingrove/Glasgow Uni area of Glasgow is our old stamping ground and it’s also set in the 1970s which is exactly when we were there.

The Complete Borrowers by Mary Norton.
I bought this to give to a young friend of ours. I have a hardback copy but I loce children’s classics and I don’t want to part with my own copy, hope she likes this one too.

So those should keep me busy over the coming winter along with my ever growing pile, and I bought more today in Edinburgh, but I’ll tell you about them another time.

As ever, Jack bought far fewer books. He came away with: Black Swan Green by David Mitchell. and

The Infinities by John Banville. Looking at the blurb I might give these ones a go sometime too.

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.

Agatha Raisin and the Love from Hell by M.C. Beaton

At last I managed to get a hold of the Agatha book in which she is actually married to James Lacey. Previously I had only read the pre marriage and post divorce books.

I did enjoy it as I really like Agatha Raisin as a character, she’s perfectly imperfect as far as I’m concerned, but I must admit to being just a wee bit disappointed that there wasn’t really much of James or the actual marriage involved in the storyline. The newly-weds are already living separately in their own cottages and James goes missing quite early on, but there’s blood in his cottage and of course Agatha is top suspect.

I thought that there might have been more in the way of witty and sarcastic banter between the spouses, (that probably says more about me than anything else!) leading to the inevitable break up but it turned out not to be like that at all. It was all rather mild and it seems that James wasn’t keen on Agatha caking herself with make-up, he criticised her dress sense and apparently hadn’t realised that her microwave is her best friend cooking-wise.

As ever, these books are great for the times when you can’t concentrate on anything too taxing.

Agatha Raisin Hiss and Hers by M.C. Beaton

At last Agatha seems to have got over her obsession with her ex-husband James Lacey, and she has transferred her affections to a local gardener, George Marston, who if I recall correctly from a previous book is an ex-soldier who has left one of his legs behind in Afghanistan.

George is playing hard to get though, in fact he’s going out of his way to avoid Agatha and in desperation she decides to throw a charity ball in the hope of at least being able to get a dance with him. When George doesn’t even bother to turn up to the ball, Agatha goes looking for him and isn’t happy with what she finds.

This one is a disaster for poor Agatha’s ego, but an enjoyable light read – again.

Agatha Raisin There Goes the Bride

Agatha Raisin There Goes the Bride cover

I’m on a bit of an Agatha Raisin kick at the moment, well they’re easy reading which is just what I want for now and there have been quite a few available to borrow at my library recently, sometimes I don’t see any there for ages.

Anyway, in this one Agatha has been invited to go to her ex-husband’s wedding, it’s the last thing she wants to do but she feels she has to show her face. It turns out that James Lacey, Agatha’s ex, is having second thoughts about his forthcoming marriage, he has just realised that his future in-laws are ghastly, but he feels it’s too late to call it off.

Another enjoyable romp, although this is the 20th book of the series and I’m not so keen on the later ones because Agatha has her own detective agency and several members of staff. I preferred it when she was more or less on her own and a complete amateur.

Strangely the in-laws in this book are named George and Olivia, which seems to be a combination of names which Beaton likes for ghastly characters as she used them for a completely different couple in the last book of hers which I read. I wonder if she was inspired by a real couple of her acquaintance with those names!

Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener by M.C. Beaton

Agatha has just returned from a very long and expensive holiday on which she had hoped to find friends, but it turned out to be a very lonely trip and she is glad to get back to her beloved Carsley, in the Cotswolds.

Unfortunately there’s a new inhabitant in the village, Mary Fortune is oe of those very annoying people who seem to be good at everything. She’s a wonderful gardener and superb baker and has well and truly dug herself into village life. Agatha isn’t happy about it all, especially when she realises that James Lacey is one of Mary Fortune’s admirers.

This is just the third book in the Agatha Raisin series, so I’m looking out for the next one, The Walkers of Dembley. Good fun!

Library Book Haul

It was much cooler today on the east coast of Scotland than it has been for the past week or so, but still bright and sunny. We decided just to take a walk to the newly reopened library, it had been closed for 18 months or so for refurbishment.

I don’t really like anything about the new library set up. The lovely old built in bookcases have disappeared, replaced by low free-standing bookcases, and there are too many different sections which you have to check for authors. I prefer books just to be alphabetical, then you can see straight away if the author or particular book you are looking for is there. There’s just too much scope for books to be misplaced, so you have to look all over the place. Why on earth do they have a section for ‘family’ books? I’m sure there are far fewer books in the library than there used to be, due to the low shelving which is no doubt there for easy access to everyone. The library is now self-service, although I suppose you can wait to be served by a member of staff if you so wish. I suspect they want to cut back on employees eventually.

Anyway, I did take a few books out. I’m trying to work my way through the Agatha Raisin series, so I grabbed:

Agatha Raisin Hiss and Hers by M.C. Beaton
Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener by M.C. Beaton
Sunshine on Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith
The Three Evangelists by Fred Vargas – who I hadn’t even heard of until my friend Joan Kyler mentioned her. It’ll be interesting to try out this new to me author.

As you can see, I’m still in an easy/light reading phase and I’m a third of the way through Sunshine on Scotland Street already.

Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist by M.C. Beaton

This book is the one which follows Agatha and the Murderous Marriage, in which her fiance James Lacey decides he can’t go through with marriage to Agatha. So in Terrible Tourist Agatha has followed James to North Cyprus which was supposed to be their honeymoon destination. Her friend Mrs. Bloxby has advised her not to go as she says – no man likes to feel that he is being chased, but Agatha is determined to keep James in sight and win him back to her.

There’s a strange mixture of personalities amongst the other tourists, from Essex common but rich to ‘county’ snobs and to Agatha’s amazement they have all become friends, despite some nasty remarks passing between them originally.

When one of the group becomes the first murder victim, they are all under suspicion, including Agatha.

Another relaxing hoot of a book, perfect for hot days out in the garden. Marshmallow reading. Just remind me never to go to Cyprus, apparently it smells of jasmine, a scent which I have never been able to bear, give me freesia or honeysuckle anyday!

Agatha Raisin and Love, Lies and Liquor

This was one of my recent library sale purchases and it jumped the long queue because I’m just not in the mood for anything that I have to concentrate on at the moment. So this one fitted the bill perfectly.

Agatha is divorced from James in this book, in fact I have yet to read one in which they were married, I’ve only read pre and post marriage books. Anyway, Agatha hasn’t got over James and is still living in hope of a reconciliation. When James, who is now earning a living as a travel writer, invites her to go on holiday with him she thinks this is her big chance and sets about preparing for a wonderful, exotic destination. Floaty, skimpy clothes and underwear are bought and packed. Imagine her disappointment when James drives her to Snoth-on-Sea, the small Sussex resort where he had enjoyed holidays as a child. James is on a nostalgia trip, but things aren’t what they were, well we could all have told him that I’m sure!

Everything is really run down and grotty, in the way that only coastal resorts can be, and within a few minutes of Agatha and James entering the hotel dining-room Agatha is abused and threatened by a fellow guest.

Agatha being Agatha, she gave as good as she got, which didn’t help her when murder ensued!

Yet again, another amusing romp from M.C. Beaton.