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The Agatha Raisin books are warm, witty and entertaining books about the abrasive yet lovable 50-something Agatha who has moved from London to a little cottage in the Cotswolds and got herself involved in solving a series of murder mysteries - and in my opinion this is the best so far. An almost-pastiche of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple mysteries, Agatha is rude yet refreshing and chases her handsome neighbour James Lacey in a way that would leave the lady-like Miss Marple distraught! The characters of not just Agatha and James but all the minor bit-players from the village are well-drawn and if a bit cliched then that just adds to the cosy, comfortable atmosphere.

This isn't a work of great literary pretensions but is a wonderful, eccentric page-turner that is perfect to read in one sitting when the weather's bad.
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on 21 December 2006
This was the first M C Beaton novel I read. A short 180 pages or so, I read it in a couple of hours and found it very enjoyable. Agatha Raisin, the middle-aged detective heroine, is an intriguing character - very human and believable, with her on-off schoolgirl crush on her neighbour, her fears for how she is seen in the small Cotswold village where she has moved from London, and her forays into diets and quick-fix improvements to her garden.

The plot is acceptable, but not one for afficianados of complex, logical mysteries - this is not for those looking for the intricacies of a P D James, or the trickery of an Agatha Christie. But the plot seems more a necessary backdrop for the picture of English village life, and the novel has all the charm and beauty of afternoon tea in a Cotswold village - rather like a beautiful watercolour that happens to have a dead body upended in a flower pot in one corner. Charming, very easily readable; I will be reading more of this series, but for me it isn't up there with the giants of the genre.
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on 21 April 2008
Agatha Raisin and the potted Gardener was the first book I have read in this series. I enjoy cosy mysteries and thought I would really enjoy this book, I was slightly let down. Although I enjoyed getting to know Agatha and her friends, I have to say the actual murder story was very weak. Although Agatha's gardening escapades and searching for clues are entertaining, I feel I really missed out on what I actually read the book for............. the murder mystery!
When the murderer is revealed the reason behind it is very, very weak, you get no history, no explanation. There is no real reason for murder! I cant go into why as I would give it away, but the murderer could have been anybody! If everyone killed someone for the reason this murderer had there would be no one left in the world. So was the murder crazed or out for revenge? No not really they had a reason it was just so poor I can not believe a book was themed around it.

The murder was such a sub plot. That is why I am rating it so low, although the book was interesting for all that was in it, I feel the murder story should be a large part and it just wasn't in this book..........

Priscilla x
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on 15 November 2005
In this third entry of the Agatha Raisin series, Agatha returns to Carsely after what turned out to be a lonely world tour only to find that her nest door neighbor and heartthrob James Lacey has his eyes on someone new. Not that he ever had his eyes on Agatha mind you. It seems that a pretty young blonde has moved to town and not only has she captured James' attention but she also seems to be the new darling of the little village. Worse yet, Mary Fortune, this new arrival in Carsely is like James an avid gardener, a situation that causes Agatha to take up gardening for herself. Agatha fails to notice however that as soon as she returns home the people of the village begin to lose interest in Mary and turn their attentions back to their old friend Agatha. Mary does notice this however and begins to turn nasty, especially when many in the village begin to blame her for a series of attacks on local gardens.
Some how or another Mary and Agatha end up being great friends even as James begins to distance himself from the pretty blonde newcomer. Then one night when Mary fails to show up at the local pub James and Agatha make a grisly discovery when they go to check on the missing Ms. Fortune. Ironic name isn't it? The author has made no attempt at all to lead the reader away from her intended victim and so it is no surprise that Mary is murdered but the "potted" position of her body is at the very least a novel idea.
Agatha by this point considers herself quite the sleuth and immediately sets out in search of clues. As in the last book James assists in the snooping and the two once again begin to grow close. Slowly but surely the pair of amateur detectives find out that Mary had been extremely nasty to several people and that there were numerous citizens with apparent motives for murder. In the end the solution comes about more by Agatha's intuition than from clues and it was a solution that caught me completely off guard. Right up until Agatha figured out who the guilty party was I was looking in a completely different direction, a direction that would have spelled the end for one of the major characters in the series.
As in the previous books, Agatha's adventures make for a delightful read. The mess she gets herself into as she tries her hand at gardening makes for a hilarious secondary plot and the people of Carsely are just delightful. Amazingly though the mystery itself remains at the center of the story and drives the action, right down to the mixed up labels on Agatha's fake garden. It seems that the harder Agatha tries to fit in the more she gets embarrassed and the more she gets embarrassed the more the people of Carsely love her. Every town needs an eccentric or two after all.
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on 11 January 2013
I'm not going to mention in this review that the Agatha Raisin series isn't highbrow and the stories are light and frothy because, frankly, by Book 3 in the series, you should know that gritty realism resides far from the tiny village of Carsley. I quite like the fact that I can disengage my brain and just enjoy the ride. Sadly, for me, I didn't enjoy the ride too much this time around. The story is slow to start, and, whilst I'm becoming more invested in Agatha's budding relationship with James Lacey, I felt like this entry into the Raisin canon spent too long fleshing that out without a good, old-fashioned murder to add colour to the story. Then, the investigation - which took all of a few chapters - is over too quickly and the murderer and the motive for the crime are so weak to be laughable. The previous novels have been a satisfying read, and have contained a cunning mystery. I found this novel strangely unfulfilling - it was slow, ponderous, far-fetched and I had no chance of guessing the murderer because there were very few clues to pick up on and, in essence, the motive is so ludicrous I don't feel like the narrative plays fair.

Out of the three books so far, this is, in my opinion, the worst...
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This series of British cozy mysteries is a sure fire winner. The central character, Agatha Raisin, is brought to life under the author's deft pen. The aggressive, irrepressible, and menopausal Agatha, with a penchant for cigarettes and cocktails, as well as a strong desire for romance, is the modern day version of Dame Christie's Jane Marple. Set in the bucolic Cotswold village of Carsely, one would think that nothing ever happens there.

In this third book in the series, Agatha is still pining away for her neighbor, retired colonel, James Lacey, for whom she has romantic longings to which he is proving quite resistant. Instead, he seems to be interested in Carsely's newest incomer, divorcee Mary Fortune, who is not only beautiful but also has a green thumb. As luck would have it, James Lacey has a penchant for gardening. Of course, this leaves Agatha green with envy, determined to fight fire with fire and beat Mary at her own game.

When the gardens of Carsely come under attack by person or persons unknown, however, and a shocking murder follows, Agatha and James once again join forces to discover just who or what is causing all the brouhaha in Carsely. Their investigation into these goings on, as well as Agatha's efforts to get James to respond to her romantic longings, will keep the reader turning the pages.

As with all cozy mysteries, the mystery is secondary to the recurring characters and their relationships with each other. It is merely the framework around which the characters and village life evolve, giving the reader a good sense of place, as well as an interest in the characters, while leaving the reader wanting more. This is a fun and highly enjoyable series to read, humorous and entertaining, with a host of interesting characters. The dialogue is believable, and the plot moves forward at a brisk pace. It is a highly addictive series.
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on 26 March 2009
Marion Chesney's third Agatha Raisin (following 'the Quiche of Death' and 'the Vicious Vet'), so the setting and characters are well established by now. Chesney writes prolifically - she also produces the Hamish Macbeth series plus a range of other titles under various pseudonyms - so expect a professionally crafted but formulaic mystery.

Here, Agatha returns from a prolonged holiday, recovering from the stress of solving the case of the Vicious Vet. Safely back in her Cotswold village of Carsely she discovers that a newcomer has arrived - the glamorous Miss Fortune - and has moved into the cottage made notorious by the last murder. The newcomer is sexual, charming, green fingered, and a legendary cook already. She makes Agatha feel frumpish, and clearly has her hooks into Agatha's neighbour, the estimable James. Agatha nurses her anger and her hatred, and finds herself falling into temptation in order to compete with the femme fatale. Only another murder will resolve the issue.

Marion Chesney writes a witty and charming little whodunnit - though it has to be said, there is limited mystery in this one, much of the story being given over to the comedy of terrors Agatha experiences when dealing with Miss Fortune. These are formulaic stories - take an idyllic Cotswold village, all thatched cottages, oak beams, a pub called the Red Lion, a nice little church (not too High in case it frightens the tourists), and occasionally refer to the hoi polloi who inhabit the council estate and are conveniently distanced from the naice people (although some of them do function as cleaners and carry out necessary jobs about the place). It's the English village which features in so many cosy whodunnits.

Agatha Raisin is a more abrasive little nosey parker than Miss Marple. She's from a working class background, in Birmingham at that, but seems to have lost her Brummie accent while setting up a highly successful PR firm in London, and seems to have acquired some very middle class tastes in retiring to the Cotswolds. Not the demure old maid of the Marple kidney, she's been married, still fancies a bit of the other, and she is written in much more abrasive, ironic, and mocking style. She recognises her own failings and foibles - she's capable of self-deprecation.

Nicely paced, slow, leisurely - as I say, less of a whodunnit than other Raisin titles, the murder is almost incidental to the plot. The pleasure of reading this is not in guessing who did dunnit, but in the pleasure of reading it - witty, dry, charming, and entertaining, it'll make you smile, it won't get your pulse racing.
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If you long to sit by a log fire,in a cozy cottage in the english countryside,with the rain pattering on the window panes. Tea and crumpets and a nice juicey murder this ones for you.
Our intrepid Agatha Raisin is back in Carsely. When she arrives she is met with the fact that her beloved neighbour who she has a tremendous crush on is taken with another woman, Agatha is none to pleased at this, and finds herself wishing for another murder, to solve so that she can involve James.
In the meantime she needs to compete for James attention, so she joins the Garden Society, knowing nothing about gardening she hatches a plan, that goes incredibly wrong, and before you know it the cozy village of Carsely has evil destruction and murder.... for Agatha and maybe James to solve..
Once you pick up this book, and a cup of tea, you will be there till supper time.
Happy reading !!
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Carsely in turmoil. Who is sabotaging their gardens? Who poisoned old Bernard Spott's goldfish? Most important of all, who planted glamorous newcomer Mary Fortune upside down in an enormous flowerpot? Time for Agatha and neighbour James Lacey to do some more amateur sleuthing!

This third novel is more effective than its predecessors, the author keeping a firmer grip on the reins. It is not so much a detective story as the comic misadventures of a flawed central character striving to improve - Agatha mindful that methods used for success in London's cut-throat world of business are inappropriate in a sleepy Cotswolds village. (It is fun, though, when she does erupt in all her former glory - as in the pretentious new restaurant with its inflated prices, as in the office when treated with less than respect.)

An entertaining read, as ever enhanced by comparatively normal DS Bill Wong, who regards Agatha as a source of innocent merriment.

At the end of it all - better gardens, better book.
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VINE VOICEon 10 August 2011
Mary Fortune is new in the village of Carsely and she does everything to involve herself in village life. She is beautiful as well as being able to bake cakes and likes her gardening and plants and becomes involved one of the local societies; The Horticultural Open Day. Everyone in the village likes Mary and she seems to fit in really well.

But someone does not think she fits in to anything apart from a plant pot and that is where Agatha Raisin finds her. Annoyed by Mary's comments to Agatha and Mary's supposed romantic entanglement with James Lacey, Agatha's neighbour. Agatha along with James sets out to find if Mary Fortune was as nice to everyone else in the village or was Agatha the only victim of Mary's tongue.

As they both uncover a completely different side to Mary they begin to piece together the pieces of the puzzle that led to her being murdered and finally work out who the culprit is. Along the way village life continues and Agatha wants to still ingratiate herself into village life and decides to involve herself into the Open Day as well with as little effort as possible. Little does Agatha know that she is trying too hard and she has already been welcomed to the village in their own unique way. They all expect her to solve the case, despite the detective Bill Wong advising her not to and we can be rest assured that she will and she will make us chuckle along the way as she adjusts to her new life and she acquires some rather eccentric ways, thoughts and manners and her amazing bluntness.

A great escapism read that does not take long to finish, but is a joy to read and is part of an excellent growing series.
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