Thank goodness for cozy mysteries. I was in need of something light and fluffy to get the taste of previous blech reading out of my head, and this did the trick. I had accidentally recorded the tv version of Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death a while back, and really liked it, so I picked up the original novel. I was not disappointed.
The basic premise is that Agatha, the owner of a successful PR firm, moves to a small countryside village because of fond memories of a childhood vacation. Once there, she does not fit in, and eventually gets involved in a local murder investigation. The plot is basic enough: local food contest judge dies as a result of eating a poisoned quiche, and Agatha is the first suspect, but is cleared because she cheated, and she decides she needs to prove it was murder and solve the case to relieve boredom and to maybe help her fit in.
While the plot is entertaining, it’s the characters that make this story. The villagers are stereotypical, but they’re not. You’ve got the snooty lady next door, the old fogy couple, the vicar’s wife who always seems to get her way (in a nice way), the pub regular gang, etc. Also somewhat typical of these stories, there’s Bill Wong, the younger than Agatha local police officer who seems to take a liking to her, in a more friendly way here. The tv version made it a crush, but then they also made the cleaning lady more of Agatha’s buddy side-kick. I also liked how the tv version made Steve (Agatha’s London pal’s friend) more of a boyfriend (to Roy) but in the book, it seemed more like guy buddies; the book was written originally in the early 90s, so that might be why). Either way… Roy is a pretty good sidekick, in that he’s not too afraid to tell Agatha when she’s being unreasonable, but also has a boyish hyperactivity that’s entertaining to watch.
The only complaint I have is that on places the language is a little anachronistic, which gives off the briefest whiff of trying too much to be literary. This takes the form of the use of ‘for’ to mean ‘because’. For example, the opening sentences of the book are: “Mrs. Agatha Raisin sat behind her newly cleared desk in her office in South Moulton Street in London’s Mayfair. From the outer office came the hum of voices and the clink of glasses as the staff prepared to say farewell to her. For Agatha was taking early retirement.” It only happens occasionally, but it’s cringe-worthy because it doesn’t really fit the tone of the rest of the book.
I really want to find more of the books (thankfully the local library seems to have a fair few) and also chase down more of the tv series (but I’m not finding as much so far that I wouldn’t have to pay for). Wish me luck!