When I need some light hearted reading I tend to favour authors I know I can rely on to provide an easy read to help me escape the stresses of normal life. I first discovered M.C.Beaton through her Hamish Macbeth series and I remember devouring them over the course of a summer spent working at the National Trust. I avoided Agatha Raisin for a while, although I remember hearing the brilliant radio series starring Penelope Keith. Maybe I picked up my first Agatha Raisin in the past eighteen months and I am slowly working my through them. I recently read three in a row, which is a rarity as I usually break them up with some other reading.
Agatha Raisin and the Wizard of Evesham focuses on a hairdressers and the charming male owner is not all he seems. After seducing Agatha and shampooing the secrets out of some of his loyal clientele he is poisoned with ricin. Can Agatha resist investigating?
In Agatha Raisin and the Witch of Wyckhadden Agatha has escaped Carsely to the seaside, mainly to allow her hair to grown back after an unfortunate incident at the hairdressers. It is here that she visits a white witch for some hair growth cream (and a love potion), unfortunately Agatha later discovers the witch in bed…with her head bashed in.
Now I feel I missed a book that bridges the gap between Witch of Wyckhadden although according to books, the next in the series is Agatha Raisin and the Fairies of Fryfam. Again Agatha is far from home, after a fortune teller assures her she will find happiness in Norfolk she sets off for a new cottage. There are some mysterious lights at the bottom of her garden that the villagers insist are fairies. It is here that Agatha decides she should begin to write about her crime solving adventures, unfortunately having completely the first chapter of ‘Death at the Manor’ there is an actual death at the manor, leaving Agatha looking like the prime suspect.
The great thing about following a character through a series of books is the sense of familiarity and comfort that their adventures bring. I always feel this way when I return to well loved characters and I know I felt this way when I picked up the first of my Agatha Raisin trio. They are cosy, comfortable crime novels that don’t require a great deal of brain power, which is what I needed for this part of the school term. I love how I can hear Penelope Keith’s voice as I read about Agatha’s adventures and the different ways she manages to work her way to the centre of so many murders.
Having said this, by the third book I was ready for a change of character. I found myself losing interest in the plot and the whole murder/strange new village idea. I think I wanted Agatha to be back in Carsely with the villagers she knows and loves. I wanted a bit more about her troublesome relationship with James and where it would go next. I also feel that maybe reading three books all on the same character in such quick succession was a bad idea as it started to feel like a chore. It reminds me of the summer I read all seven Harry Potter in like two and a half weeks and despite being a HUGE HP fan, I was sick of him by the end of my reading. I guess this has just reinforced that I should break my reading of series books up with another little read in between. I wonder if I will ever learn my lesson?