Almost bigamy and absolute murder - Agatha Raisin's life is never dull.... The morning of Agatha's longed-for marriage to James Lacey dawns bright and clear. But her luck runs out in the church when Jimmy, the husband she had believed long dead, turns up large as life and twice as ugly. Agatha has a go at strangling him. It's all too much for James, who breaks off the engagement. So when Jimmy is found murdered the next day, Agatha and James are both suspects. And they'll have to work together in order to clear their names....
©1996, 2006 M. C. Beaton (P)2012 AudioGO, Ltd.
I have started at book one in this series and am making my way through them in order. I have all the Hamish Macbeth books by this author as well.
Unlike the Macbeth books, the main two characters in this series are not really likeable, although Agatha is sort of growing on me as we go along in the series. Maybe her love interest, James Lacey, will do the same eventually.
So far, I have not been able to guess the murderer with certainty in any of the books, so that is a big plus. As with the Macbeth books, I feel like I am coming to know the entire village cast of characters as their backgrounds are brought to light from book to book. If the characters are typical of British people, they are extremely outspoken and blunt, to put it mildly.
Agatha is very interesting. She is a self-made woman who has become wealthy after having dragged herself out of her beginnings in the slums. Naturally, she is very tough and untrusting. She does not hesitate to bulldoze her way to the results she wants. After she took and early retirement and moved to the Cotswolds, she is befriended by the villagers even though she has not always been entirely scrupulous in some of her past dealings with them, such as trying to cheat her way to a baking prize and a gardening prize. She gets found out but learns from these mistakes when she realizes that, unlike in her former business, she doesn't have to "win" all the time to be liked.
In this book, her love interest, James Lacey, and she have agreed to be married and the wedding arranged. Unfortunately, Agatha has neglected to to tell anyone her husband is still living. When said husband shows up at the altar, mayhem and murder ensue.
Both Agatha and James are suspects for a time, but are cleared eventually. James is in a snit because Agatha did not tell him of the husband's existence and takes off for a while. But Agatha has sold her cottage preparatory to marrying James and moving in, so she stays with him briefly while maneuvering to get her own house back and realizes she doen't know him very well.
As I said, Agatha--although not very likeable--is growing on me because the books reveal why she acts the way she does as the series progresses, but James seems a selfish man with the regimented lifestyle of a longterm military bachelor. I do not much care for him at this point. The characters I like best in the series are the vicar's wife and the detective sargeant Bill Wong, who is a good friend to Agatha despite their age difference.
This was a very enjoyable book. I can't help but love Agatha more. However, if she were a friend of man I would take her aside and help her meet a new man.
Yes. After reading other reviews I was wary of this book by one of my favorite authors. I was curious why so many readers had negative things to say about the usually marvelous reader and the story itself. Curiosity won out and I had to read it for myself. It turns out that our beloved Agatha seems so unjustly treated by her fellow characters, that it really got my dander up! Also, she reacts in ways that I did not expect of her, and consequently did not want to believe of her. So, at first I thought, "I don't like this!" However, the reality is that the story is as full of twists and turns as we have all come to expect...in fact more so. Since the crisp character of Agatha with all her faults is like an old friend, It is only human nature to want things to work out harmoniously for her in the end rather than seemingly inequitably. Readers experience that often enough in real life.
In a nutshell, I recommend that avid friends of Agatha brave the reading of this tangled mystery, and muddle through with our heroine to the surprising ending.
Ms. Keith perfectly intones our crusty Agatha and renders the other characters with tell-tale hints of their personalities.
Definitely...Agatha needs a well deserved pat on the back next time.
Old, tired member of the sandwich generation. Waiting to just get to heaven!!
On what should have been the best day of her life, Aggie is thrown into another murder. Roy would have been best advised to "let sleeping dogs sleep." It is amazing what trouble Aggie gets herself into.
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