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Friday, 16 December 2011

Agatha Raisin As the Pig Turns by M. C. Beaton

Agatha Raisin as the Pig Turns - Agatha Raisin 22

Winter Parva, a traditional Cotswolds village next door to Carsely, has decided to throw a celebratory hog roast to mark the beginning of the winter holiday festivities and Agatha Raisin has arrived with friend and rival in the sleuthing business, Toni, to enjoy the merriment. But as the spit pig is carried towards the bed of fiery charcoal Agatha - and the rest of the village - realise that things aren't as they seem...Very quickly it transpires that the spit pig is in fact Gary Beech, a policeman not much loved in Winter Parva. And although Agatha has every intention of leaving the affair to the police, she rapidly changes her mind when she finds out Gary's ex-wife has hired Toni to investigate. Cantankerous and competitive as Agatha is, she has to now join the fray and try and solve the case herself! Praise for M C Beaton's "Agatha Raisin series": "I know I once vowed to read only Agatha Christie for a year but I cheated. My No. 1 mistress, M.C. Beaton and her Agatha Raisin whodunits. Agatha is like Miss Marple with a drinking problem, a pack a day habit and major man lust. In fact, I think she may be living my dream life". ("Entertainment Weekly"). "Once again M. C. Beaton has concocted an amusing brew of mystery and romance that will keep her fans turning the pages". ("Publisher's Weekly"). "Pure entertainment". ("The Guardian").

This is my first delve into the world of Agatha Raisin - a private investigator who has a small investigative team who support her with any work which comes her way. When I have seen these books in shops I must admit that I have assumed Agatha Raisin was an older character, close to the age of Miss Marple, however I am assuming I am wrong about that age having seen the picture on the back of teh book. I like the cover of this book, the other covers I have seen give the impression of a book more aimed at the older generation (I would love to know if I am the only person who thinks this about these books).

Anyway - the storyline follows Agatha as she attends a pig roast in Winter Parva, however Agatha makes a grim discovery, the 'meat' on the spit is actually human with a pig's head stitched to it! The identification of the body is helped due to a tattoo and Agatha soon decides that she will 'assist' with the investigation after she is employed by the deceased's previous wife who considers that the current wife must be  prime suspect.

The continuing investigation leads to Agatha becoming prime suspect in a number of crimes and one which Agatha investigates, then leaves it and then investigates it again. But will she solve the crime - I will not spoil it for other readers!

I think this book could be described a guilty pleasure, a book that will never top the best crime and investigation, however it is a book full of hilarity and mishaps and one which I consumed quickly. It is only just under 200 pages long and one which can be read quickly. It has encouraged me to read further Agatha Raisin books and as I grew up near the area that it is set in, I will be interested to read about the fictitious villages and real towns included within the books. This is the 22nd book in the series and so there are there is a large back catalogue to explore.

I would recommend this to readers who want a lighthearted 'crime' novel, one which could be devoured in an afternoon and does not involve blood, guts and gore.

Thank you to the publishers, Constable and Robinson, for sending me the book to review.

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