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4.1 out of 5 stars
Agatha Raisin and Kissing Christmas Goodbye
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
The suspense in Kissing Christmas Goodbye is mostly focused on whether Agatha Raisin will be able to pull off a splendid Christmas party with James Lacey at her side: That's one of her dreams as the book opens. Having grown up as the daughter of two alcoholics in the Birmingham slums, Agatha has always craved a classic Christmas dinner. Her previous attempt hit a major snag when she burned her turkey and had to be bailed out by a last-minute caterer, but everyone had fun.

The detective agency is doing well because Agatha has overcome her scruples about taking on divorce cases, even if everyone on the staff finds them distasteful. But without the fantasy of a man to fall in love with, Agatha finds herself bored by it all. With her Christmas fantasy, she finds a substitute for romantic fantasies.

Life becomes more interesting when Agatha decides to check out an invitation from Phyllis Tamworthy, an elderly woman who claims that her family is about to kill her. Agatha takes on the assignment of preventing the murder and ends up having one of the worst country weekends imaginable. Mrs. Tamworthy is right about one thing: Someone is out to get her. The detecting trail leads Agatha to learn a great deal about this unpleasant woman and her undesirable family.

For me, the best part of the book came in the introduction of a new character, Toni Gilmour, a 17-year-old woman who seems to be a young Agatha Raisin in the making. Toni is hired to do the pet detecting that Harry Beam used to do before he headed off to Cambridge for his university studies. Toni is soon promoted into the front ranks as a detective due to her remarkable insights and good luck. But it's Agatha's reaction to Toni that makes this a good story: Agatha turns maternal, something we haven't seen before. I hope we will see and hear a lot more of Toni in future books in the series.

The story is fun and I would have graded the book higher except that this is a most transparent mystery in terms of who did what to whom. How could I grade a book above average if the mystery is child's play?

But I know this book will bring many smiles to your face.

Merry Christmas!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 23 December 2009
M.C. Beaton's Agatha Raisin and Kissing Christmas Goodbye is a wonderful title for a book though a teeny tiny bit misleading as really Christmas happens right at the end. However when it does show up it sets you in the Christmas mood as Agatha tried to organise the whole village to have dinner in her cottage, it involves a lot of expense builders and hired chef's and is very funny. However by this point a murder or two have already been solved so no actual festive murder, if there is such a thing, has taken place which is what I was expecting. I still enjoyed it immensely.

Agatha receives a letter from a Mrs Tamworthy who states "I think a member of my family is trying to kill me. Isn't the weather warm for October?" Initially thinking she is crackers and having far too much work to do she ignores the note. However after dubiously hiring a new detective in the form of seventeen year old Toni Gilmour time is freed up and indeed a murder does take place. Agatha soon hits dead ends whereas Toni seems to have amazing luck solving cases so she drags her into it all with her leading to some interesting an not seen before adventures for Agatha some quite, quite dark.

Toni is a great character with a very interesting and topically current back story and who also brings out some very different sides of Agatha's personality both good and bad. Hopefully I will read more about her in the future. I was briefly wondering if a spin off series might be planned but I can't see it happening just yet. I thoroughly enjoyed this despite my worry the detective agency might be too much. It does mean we get less of the wonderful characters from the village, but we also get to meet a whole host of new ones in two other settings. Another delightful Agatha read and just about right for Christmas time.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 25 October 2008
I have enjoyed all the previous Agatha Raisin books, but this one left me feeling that M C Beaton had contract obligations to fill - quantity, not quality. Conversations are badly composed, the characters two-dimentional, and the descriptive passages rushed and flat.

Agatha Raisin will not live long if the author continues in this vein.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 25 October 2009
The first few Agatha books were really interesting, proper 'page turners'. By the time I'd reached 'Kissing Christmas Goodbye' the pages were not so easy to turn. However, with a sense of loyalty and a determinaton to see things through to the end, I shall continue to read all the Agatha Raisin books, hoping that she will find a 'happy ending' for herself.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 6 May 2011
I have been reading the Agatha Raisin books in order, over several years - one every 3 months or so, when I want a soothing read that is amusing and light. Bedtime cosy reading is something that anyone who has read my reviews before knows that I read concurrently with more exciting or demanding books that I tackle during the daytime hours. Thus, I sleep better.

When I read the Agatha Raisin books, I positively 'itch' to edit them, to smooth out the rough edges, to find a subtler phrase than the author can be bothered search for. I have become more and more convinced over the years that these books are 'first drafts' and that nobody is allowed to edit them to make them better. It is a shame, the plots are there, a bit shaky at times, but all the ingredients jostle for place, all they lack is the patience (or maybe the time, since M. C. Beaton is so prolific)to improve them.

Never mind, I have got used to series now, and I have to say that this book has quite a convoluted plot, maybe a few too many murders (is she vying with the TV series, Midsomer Murders?)but all the mad ingredients are still there. Agatha, her trusty sidekick, Sir Charles, a new young woman, Toni - I do hope Toni will stay, have a feeling she would be too much competition for our redoubtable detective.

I enjoyed Kissing Christmas Goodbye - Agatha Raisin is my guilty pleasure and one that I keep secret from my friends and family. She is a bit like me, outspoken, puts her foot in things, yet has a heart of gold. And speaking of gold, where does she get all her money! It has always been explained away that she was a high-flyer in the City, a lovely fairy story. A great cosy and recommended if you can bear the rather slapdash approach.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 29 October 2007
What a disappointment. I finished reading all the Raisin novels back to back over a three month period about four weeks ago and was looking forward greatly to the latestest installment. I have to say that in my opinion there are large sections of the novel where the author appears to have only sketched in character, plot and dialogue, as if she intended to return at a later date and fill out the details. This is a shame, for it is in these details, particularly of Agatha's character and how she interacts with those around her where the chief pleasures of this series are usually found. I would say that this is by far the weakest novel in the series so far.
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It's only October but Agatha Raisin is after the perfect Christmas and wants to outshine last years attempt(if you know Agatha then you know it would have gone disastrously wrong!)

In the meantime, before the festive season descends, a letter arrives for Agatha at her detective agency from Phyllis Tamworthy claiming that a member of her family is trying to kill her. Agatha dismisses it as madness, but curiosity gets the better of her and she sets off to meet the formidable Phyllis and her rather beaten and down trodden family at Phyllis's 80th birthday.

And as only can be expected, the prediction is true. And so the family employ Agatha to find the truth, despite her being the one that finds the body and rather getting up the nose of the local police force. On top of that is the introduction of a new character Toni Gilmour who is a young girl who comes to work with Agatha and seems to have all the luck, to finding lost dogs, divorce cases and murder. Toni is everything Agatha used to be, young and attractive and at the start of her life. Agatha feels she is becoming more invisible, to those around her. Only solving murder will keep Agatha in the spotlight, that and her Christmas to beat all Christmases!

Although not quite Christmas throughout, more as the conclusion to the book than the theme, it is a formulaic Agatha Raisin and you still get some of the village characters such as Mrs Bloxby the rather subservient vicars wife but also more branching out with those that work with Agatha at her detective agency. This is book 18 in the series and although I have read the first 7 of the others in order I definitely felt I was missing out on some of the back story of the detective agency mainly and also the breakdown of her marriage to James Lacey. So far she has not married him where I have read up to! However despite these spoilers it has not put me off reading all the ones in between, it will be just like finding the right jigsaw pieces to make the full picture.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 7 October 2008
I throughly enjoyed this book, it didn't let me down, if anything I though the story was excellent from start to end, it held my attention and I couldn't put it down. The end was a real twist, and certainly not the person I thought had 'done it'. I so hope this series carries on, just one problem, it states 'Badly perserved: An Agatha Raisin Mystery' as the next book yet I can find no trace of it but there is a book called 'A spoonful of sugar' on sale. Has the title been changed? does anyone know?
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on 25 July 2013
This 18th Agatha Raisin murder mystery begins with Agatha being obsessed by having the perfect Christmas and the return of her ex-husband James Lacey. Planning begins in earnest for a Christmas to remember - that is until Agatha's detective agency is asked to take on the case of an elderly widow who is frightened that someone wants to murder her. In true Agatha style, murder and mayhem quickly follow her.

A new young detective,Toni, hired by Agatha breathes fresh air into this book and for a change Sir Charles takes a bit of a back seat in the investigation.

Will Agatha solve the murders by herself of will she find herself cast into the shadows when Toni starts her own sleuthing. This is a clever book with plenty of red herrings to keep the reader guessing until the very end.

Much better than the previous book - partly because James Lacey was not involved in the investigation so back to M C Beaton's usual (very high) standard.

The only thing is don't be fooled this is not a proper Christmas read!
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on 30 March 2013
I've never read an Agatha Raisin mystery before but I had heard good things about them from a friend so I picked this one up. Bonus that it had a Christmas title. I assumed it would be set around Christmas. I assumed it would be an engaging mystery. I assumed there would be character development. I assumed the setting would be used to great effect. After all, there are so many of these books. The author must have developed a winning formula by now. All my assumptions proved false.

What I got was an "and then..." novel where so much was happening no time was taken to describe anything in any satisfying detail. As this is part of a series it was obvious the author didn't feel the need to fill a new reader in very much about the reoccurring characters, preferring to go on to the next encounter with the local police, the next death, the next whinge by the title character.

Perhaps I'll try another one but I will check it out of the library instead.
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