Agatha Raisin and the Perfect Paragon by M.C. Beaton

See my ‘Tiels, Roosevelt and Pearl, on the top shelf? They’re shredding books I hate. Instead of throwing them into the recycle bin, I give literary dreck their proper reward. It’s a lot cheaper than the parrot toys you buy at stores.

I discovered M.C. Beaton when Josh and I were painting our house to sell. You may not know this or even agree, but I discovered that painting walls is interminably boring. I had never been one for audiobooks, but my husband suggested I take advantage of our library’s electronic library to help the time go faster.

After some trial and error, I stumbled across the mysteries of M.C. Beaton. Beaton was a Scottish writer who died in 2018. She had to grow on me, but soon I listened to most of her Agatha Raisin mysteries and also her Hamish MacBeth series.

Agatha Raisin is a woman in her fifties who left a posh job in London in advertising to live a quiet life in the Cotswolds. She soon finds herself embroiled in murders in her own neighborhood, working conjointly with the police and ultimately decides to run her own private detective agency.

Her rough background growing up on the wrong side of the tracks in the northern industrial town Birmingham, is something she is desperate to hide. She loses her tough street accent, and acquires an upper class London one. She is also a horrible snob, but cannot hide her tough background when she gets angry, which is often. She is no delicate flower and her salty vocabulary and acerbic wit show it.

Before getting into the actual story line, I’ll say that what sells Beaton’s books (and makes painting walls ever so much more bearable) is the caustic, yet sharp, witty banter that flows between the characters. If you don’t care for the mysteries, which I do, I think they’re well developed, you can at least enjoy the dialogue.

And, of course, with any series, you develop a sort of attachment to the characters.

A couple of women have narrated the audio books, but my favorite is Penelope Leach. She has the perfect voice for not only Agatha, but for all, even the male characters.

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So, the review:


There’s a murder (duh). It’s a teenage girl. Her body’s been dumped in a wooded area. Who is she, why was she murdered etc…as Agatha Raisin is attempting to uncover this mystery, someone else is murdered. It turns out that the two might be related, but how?

Then yet another murder. This time someone who was suspected of murdering the teenage girl.

As the story unfolds, all the answers get answered bit by bit, until all the pieces are put together. The ending is logical, but not predictable.

What I liked about this particular story is that Agatha is no longer the lone wolf or the wolf with a couple of sidekicks. Now she has an entire team investigating:

Harry, a young college bound man who is taking a gap year and needs something to occupy himself. He’s scruffy looking with wild hair and piercings everywhere, but turns out to be a deft investigator.

The same is true for Phil, a 76 year old man, living alone, never married, needs money and is a good photographer. Agatha hires him because the vicar’s wife, Mrs. Bloxby has guilted her into it. Phil ends up being of far greater value to her than she imagined.

Patrick is an ex-policeman, tough, enigmatic, working in the background, but gets a lot of valuable information behind the scenes.

Because the story bounced back and forth between the above characters as well as their relationship with Agatha, add the regulars, Sir Charles, Agatha’s titled friend, with whom she has a love/hate relationship with, and Roy Silvers, a former employee from London, and you get not only an interesting plot, but also engaging, interesting characters that only add flavor to the

A couple of my latest sent postcards:
 

Oops!  That’s not a postcard.  That’s Puddle saying “Toodles until next time.”

21 thoughts on “Agatha Raisin and the Perfect Paragon by M.C. Beaton

  1. Two comments: 1), I’ve only ever seen one other heroine named Agatha, so the first bleary pre-coffee glimpse of this post made me think you were reviewing one of the Girl Genius novels!
    2) Hamish MacBeth was also FYI turned into a pretty-decent TV adaptation, starring that guy who played Rumplestiltskin in Once Upon A Time. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi RoS!

      I don’t watch a lot of TV. I almost hate to watch series on books I like because I probably have a different image of the characters than how they are portrayed by the actors. Also, and it’s petty I know, but if the script simplifies or changes the story and dialogue, I can’t enjoy the show. And neither can my husband Josh, because he has to hear me complain the whole time we’re watching.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi, Sharon! I feel like I’ve seen this book before in the library, but for certain have never read it. My 13-yo loves mysteries — so I have to look this up. And it sounds intriguing w/ all it’s plot/character twists. Also, I must say I was a little concerned then I saw the first picture of your birds on the open books, but relieved when you explained WHY. They sure can tear up a book!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Ruth!

      I’m lucky that my electronic/audio library has a good many Beaton novels, so I can listen while I’m in the car, cleaning my house, putting up laundry, or, of course, painting walls. Luckily, I haven’t painted walls since we sold that house.

      Also, the books were from the library. They were giving away hundreds of books for free and I couldn’t resist. I should have because most of them were horrible. But at least they occupy my birds.

      Like

  3. LOL!! re your relegation, “for the birds” of books you don’t like! classic! i’ve read many of the Hamish books and love Ms. Beaton’s wry sense of humor. only a couple of the Agatha one, tho: maybe a treat for the future… glad to see your feathered friends are well and opinionated (lol)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi mudpuddle!

      My birds are certainly opinionated, but not discriminating when it comes to shredding. That is why I’m glad to be able to redirect their attention to things they can shred.

      I hope you can find some Raisin novels and enjoy them.

      Like

      1. Hi grllopez!

        I know what you mean. I miss the quarterly book fair from a local library. I love going to local used bookstores, also, and they are almost the same thing. Hopefully you’ll get to visit your libraries soon. Best!

        Like

  4. I listened to an audio of one of her books years ago & thought it was ‘ok.’ I can’t even remember the title but I do know that I do better actually reading the book especially if it’s a new author to me.
    I just finished ‘Grave Mistake’ by Ngaio Marsh (I think you like her?) and it was great. The first book I read by NM I listened to on audio & I don’t think I finished it but my daughter loves her books & persuaded me to try GM. I’ll definitely rad more of her now. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. To me the best detective and spy stories are from the golden age of mystery which are the ones written from the 1920s-60s. Even some in the 60s were starting to get a little lame. And I don’t like the language or the stunted adolescent attitudes towards romance in Beaton’s stories. I listen to Beaton when I have unpleasant chores to do. It helps.

      It got a little annoying the Raisin could not mature beyond the level of a high school crush with men.

      As for Ngaio Marsh, I have all but a couple of her books. She’s fantastic!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I have to admit I cringed when I saw the book Roosevelt and Pearl are “reading.” 🙂 But it was also a little fascinating the layers and patterns they’ve made. Must be fun cleaning up after them. I’ve yet to try anything by Harlan Corben, but it looks like maybe that’s a good thing. 🙂 I’ve also never read anything by M.C. Beaton, though the name Agatha Raisin sounds vaguely familiar, not sure why. Beautiful cards, by the way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Really, if I were going to recommend mysteries it would be from the greats: McDonald, Hammett, Sayers, Stout, Marsh, Gardner and my personal favorite: Josephine Tey. The new ones just aren’t as classy.

      Thank you. I belong to a postcard club. It’s fun!

      Liked by 3 people

  6. Sharon I have never read anything by Ms. Beaton. I have some walls needing painted…think I will give her a try on your good recommendation. Hope you are getting everything done and will find time to enjoy the coming holidays. Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, just know there is some language, which I don’t like and she’s not a “beacon of morality.” Ironically, I have stopped reading her stuff, because I got tired of it. I guess this post was not as honest as it needed to be. I wrote it a long time ago.
      I recommend the “Golden Age” mysteries. I think they’re the best!

      Liked by 1 person

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