‘Agatha Raisin And The Blood Of An Englishman’ by M. C. Beaton

I saw this book and thought it would be a sure-fire get-me-in-the-mood-for-Christmas read. As I said in last week’s Friday Reads, ‘What could be more festive than murder at a pantomime?’

I knew I was wrong when my wife read the book earlier this week and didn’t seem enthused. She said it was rambling and unfocused. That there were too many characters and too many under-worked ideas. That the plot took so long to unwind that you’d almost forgotten about the pantomime by the end and that, just when you thought it was all over, M. C. Beaton added a new character, clearly meant to be a baddy in a future book and did absolutely nothing with her.

I read the book anyway because we don’t always see the same thing in a book but all the way through, a small voice in my head was going: ‘You brought this on yourself. You were warned.’

I was very disappointed. I’d enjoyed an earlier Christmas Agatha Raisin, ‘Agatha Raisin And Kissing Christmas Goodbye’ so I thought this one would work. Except it wasn’t really a Christmas book. It started with a murder at the ‘Babes in the Woods’ amateur Panto that would make any man cross his legs and cringe just to think about. It was swiftly followed by a ‘Mikado’-related death that was equally spectacular. We were on a roll. Then reality raised its unwanted head and it took Agatha months and months to figure out who had killed whom and how and why. While that may be true to life, it meant that the Christmas theme evaporated very early.

There were multiple bloody murders, carried out with great theatricality and yet they made no impact on me. I wasn’t invested in any of the dead people and the focus of the live people seemed to be mostly on whether Agatha should marry for the third time and if so, who should the future ex-husband be?

The plot meandered. The dialogue didn’t sparkle. By the end, I was just glad that the whole book only took six hours to listen to.

Can I think of anything more positive to say?

Yes; ‘IT’S BEHIND ME’.

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