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VINE VOICEon 5 December 2013
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Listening to this over a couple of long journeys with my teenage son his "doesn't it jump about oddly'" sums up many of the problems with this story. There are 2 main strands to the book: a mysterious poisoning in Piddlebury leads Agatha into a dark world with a village of strange characters and some 'black magic' elements. The story has a number of good suspects but Agatha keeps going away from solving it and this leaving the case then coming back was a little jarring; and the other side is Agatha's young assistant Toni and her love life that Agatha wants to interfere with, this aspect of the story was a little frustrating and we could see much of the direction it would go ... It felt rather forced.
There is still the humour which is the trademark of these books and like old friends there is something comforting about meeting up with Charles, James, Roy, the staff of the detective agency and the delightful Mrs Bloxby but if you are coming new to Agatha this is not a brilliant one to start with but for regular readers or listeners this is an easy quick listen and has many familiar elements to enjoy.
Penelope Keith reads the story well and manages to cover the voices very well although the Welsh boyfriend (won't mention who of!) was a little weak. She is very easy to listen to. The audio version is over 6 CDs of about an hour each with the last cd concentrating more on the Epilogue as the case is mainly solved over the first 5.
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on 3 October 2013
Sad to say that this volume for me just does not seem like a real Agatha Raisin novel. It lacks the normal humour and just does not flow like the others always have done. It is not tightly plotted,and has a lot of side-tracking involving other characters that to me seemed un-necessary.

It seems to me that M C Beaton has "knocked" this one off quickly as a side issue rather than a real novel.

It is just okay and for anyone new to Agatha could well put them off.

Not recommended for a new reader of M C Beaton, and marginal at full price for a die hard fan.

Sorry to be negative but I have come to expect a lot more from the series.
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on 11 October 2013
Well, I enjoyed it, but it certainly was the worst so far in the series. I,m no novelist, but I just had the feeling that this was rushed. Certain incidents weren't embellished where they should have been. It could have been much better.
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on 19 September 2014
I've read all the Agatha Raisin books so far, & on the whole I have enjoyed them. There are usually 2 or 3 murders. Agatha usually has a brush with death, & then Police come in at the end & whip away the credit from her.
Perhaps following a basic formula make it easier to churn out a regular supply for fans, but I really felt as if the writer has lost interest for huge chunks of this story. Dialogue between characters seemed to have been replaced by a hurried narrative; not unlike the ploy used in old films, where someone takes a phone call & repeats back the conversation in order to save shooting a scene. I also got the impression that more than one hand was involved in this book. There were shades of the earlier stories, but it felt as if a rather weak plot with a little narrative (and the little rants that often feature - e.g. how the smoking ban has affected pubs etc.) had been produced, then the rest just filled in around it to pad it out. To a regular reader of these books, the difference in styles stuck out like a sore thumb. If this is to be the future for Agatha Raisin, then it would be kinder to let Bill Wong arrive too late to save her! I will try the next book in hope that this was a temporary blip, but if it's the same then I'll read no more!
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Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have listened to and have really enjoyed quite a few Agatha Raisen books.
Penelope Keith will always be the voice of Agatha now I fear.
She is rather good and has been consistently so over the past readings of the sublime M C Beaton books.

Six Cds and an unabridged story make this a fabulous week of listening in the car!

This book is great fun. A murder has been committed in the village of Piddlebury!!
All the usual great support characters come into the story like Sir Charles Fraith, Simon, her ex-husband, Mrs. Bloxby and the local police in the form of Bill Wong.

The story runs along really well we have a fine old time of figuring out who did it from a really good supply of suspects.

Great. Fun.
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on 3 November 2013
Personally I have read all the Agatha Raisin books with utter delight. I love the over dramatic murders and I relish reading about Agatha and her obsessions.

But, there is just so much missing in this book, and the plot lines weaved throughout are just a bit pointless. None of the characters are given particularly good dialogue and it just felt they are very flat. Add to that the ridiculous amount of times Beaton mentions Pub lunches. Plus Beaton appears to have made Agatha a caricature of what she used to be. She seem just a little bit more bitter and lacked the personable characteristics seen in previous books. Plus I am sick of Simon. He started out as a poor kind orphan boy, who is now a psychotic stalker with rich parents. (True Beaton has failed on continuity in the stories before - but this added to the charm. Now it is just frustrating )

Completely devastated how much I hated this book . But in truth Beaton needs to retire this character off sooner rather than later.
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VINE VOICEon 20 November 2013
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This CD is a splendid diversion and features the indomitable, detective, Mrs Raisin in a very curious mystery featuring the usual murder and mayhem that seems a frequent visitor to her part of the country. (For the uninitiated, it is worth mentioning that our heroine has been involved in many such adventures following her departure from the metropolis.)

Narrated by Penelope Keith, the perfect voice for depicting Cotswold life, we start the tale with the poisoning of the rather unpleasing Gloria French whom no-one likes at all. Agatha finds herself employed to uncover the culprit and then finds she has her work cut out to penetrate the veil of silence enshrouding the village of Piddlebury where, she thinks, someone knows who did the deed. There is blackmail in those streets! There is also an attempt on Agatha's life so someone is very serious about hiding the truth.

We have quite a parade of suspects. There is Sam, playing the part of the lady of the manor, Clarice the vicar's wife, the vicar himself and others. The plot is delightfully amusing and I was quite intrigued to see how it twisted on to the final surprising conclusion, which had the air of black comedy. Around this, is a little subplot featuring Toni, Agatha's very attractive assistant, who cannot help falling for older men, much to her employer's horror. To add to the fun, Mrs. Raisin is joined by her usual friends including the mean Sir Charles Fraith, her ex-husband, Simon, Mrs. Bloxby and Bill Wong from the local police force.

This made for six CDs of listening to and from work and they certainly made my journeys much more enjoyable. I must confess that this is the second set that I have listened to and I have been so absorbed by the stories that I now have a pile of the Raisin paperbacks through which to plough. They are wonderful for sleepless nights with untaxing and "homely" plots and have become excellent bedside companions.
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on 15 October 2013
"Something Borrowed" is the latest installment in the Agatha Raisin series and one I really enjoyed.

Agatha (who, more than 20 "years" after her first adventure, if you were to draw a timeline by the stories, is still described as being in her mid-fifties) seems to have learned a lesson or two from her previous adventures.
This time, she finds a love interest pretty soon into the story, but does not pursue the man as stubbornly as she has been famous for in the past. Also, she refrains from interfering with her youngest employee's private life, even though she thinks 19-year-old, pretty, blond, long-legged Toni is about to make a huge mistake.

Instead, she really does focus on the investigation of two murders that have taken place in a village much different from all the other Cotswolds villages she has come to be familiar with. This one, unlike the rest, has no newcomers and no tourists. Everyone's families have been living in the place for ages, everyone knows everyone else (which is, of course, not quite true, as Agatha soon finds out), and when there really is a newcomer, that lady gets poisoned with elderberry wine.
One of the parish councillors enlists Agatha's detective agency for help, because the close-knit community is shaken by the murder; everyone suspects everyone else, and it turns out that a lot of people had reason for disliking the newcomer - but not enough to warrant murder.

In her usual rather blunt manner, Agatha goes about investigating in the picturesque village. A second murder follows, and it is obvious that the intended victim was Agatha; sheer coincidence made her escape.

Her old friends rally round to help - ex-husband James, long-standing friend Sir Charles, the vicar's wife, Mrs. Bloxby, even Roy Silver puts in an appearance.

There are a few surprises (at least there were for me), not just the solution of the murders. The pace is fast where it does no harm but detailed enough for the mental cinema to play along while you read.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 3 October 2013
Review of a Netgalley review copy.

I read the first five books in the series several years ago, and did enjoy them, but found the formula a little tedious after a while and stopped. Asked to review the latest in the series I was interested to see where the series had gone.

Nothing much has changed. It's still murder investigations and pub lunches, Agatha moaning about her waistline and smoking and flirting with middle aged handsome men.

Agatha Raisin is a detective in a small village, with a small team and office. A kleptomaniac is murdered nearby and Agatha is asked to investigate and find out 'whodunnit'.

I really think this is 'detective by numbers' now. If you're a fan of the series you'll probably like this, but I was getting annoyed at the sloppy plotting, silly dialogue and lazy writing.

Would there be any other reason than to make a character a murder suspect to make her say: "You stole my flour. I hope someone kills you!"?

There is some language that surprised me. Not terribly rude but not appropriate for the target market: "Snakes and bastards", someone "pissed herself, dirty old cow".

Lots of lazy plotting where one suspect gives the name of another who gives the name of another and so on in a boring and direct line. Agatha is even given pictures and descriptions of all the suspects. Very convenient, for the reader.

And I was very tired by the end of every meal being eaten in a pub. We were treated to dozens of British pub dishes that just got dull.

The murder plot was neither here nor there. You had lots of suspects to choose from, false leads and twists but it really is much of a muchness. The personal life part was dull too, scenes of Agatha's employees and their love lives, and a really silly rushed epilogue that seems to be leading the reader on to buy the next in the series.

If you like this series, then enjoy. If you're a novice maybe try the early ones that are more amusing, but don't start here. Agatha started with a lot of promise so find the early entries in the series.
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on 11 October 2013
I'm surprised by the other reviews on here about this book, the latest instalment in the Agatha Raisin series. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and as usual I laughed out loud throughout.

I enjoyed the introduction of a new village as this book is set in Piddlebury, a Cotswold village that time has forgotten, oozing with menace.

I also enjoyed the relationship developments between James Lacey and Toni Gilmour. I actually think M.C.Beaton could have explored that a bit further, as it was an interesting idea, and it really would have rattled Agatha if things had gone a bit further!

The Agatha Raisin books are a bit 'samey'. M.C.Beaton has a tried and tested (and very successful) formula which she follows for each book. In every book we read that Agatha has 'bearlike eyes', 'a thick waist and excellent legs' etc. Agatha is always saying 'snakes and bastards', and she is always hungry and eating steak and kidney pudding in local pubs!

But that's what I enjoy about these books. You know that when you pick up an Agatha book you are going to get an enjoyable, funny, easy read. I was not disappointed by this latest instalment, and I can't wait for the next one!
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