EXCERPT: Mrs Agatha Raisin fancied herself to be a detective to rival the fictional ones like Hercule Poirot and Lord Peter Wimsey. She was a stocky middle aged woman with good legs, a round face and small bear like eyes which looked suspiciously out at the world. Her hair had always been her pride, thick and brown and glossy.
But only that week she had discovered grey hairs, nasty grey hairs appearing all over. She had bought one of those colour rinses but it had turned the grey purple. “Go to Mr John,” advised Mrs Bloxby, the vicar’s wife. “His place is in the High Street in Evesham. He’s supposed to be very good. They say he’s a wizard at tinting hair.”
ABOUT THIS BOOK: The Wizard of Evesham – Agatha is alarmed when her new wizard of a hairdresser seems keen to take on more than just her split ends. She soon discovers that everyone in his salon has a secret and that he practices a very dark magic indeed.
The Moment of Truth – Agatha must quickly discover the identity of the prisoner, but James is refusing to help. Has he really ceased to care for her?
The Murderous Marriage – After pursuing him for nearly four years, Agatha is finally about to marry James Lacey, the handsome Colonel next door. But there’s just one little problem …
The Disappearing Trick – With her marriage dreams in tatters, Agatha has the small task of returning the wedding presents, and the slightly larger one of clearing her name of murder.
MY THOUGHTS: I loved these short and witty BBC adaptations of Agatha Raisin stories, not least because Penelope Keith plays Agatha Raisin absolutely superbly. While they are greatly abridged, they are beautifully performed and produced, capturing the essence of the story.
I was quite put off the Agatha Raisin series a couple of years ago after watching one episode of the television series. It was absolutely ghastly. (Good grief, now I am beginning to sound like Penelope Keith!) But after picking up one of the books last year, and then listening to an audiobook of another, I have begun to quite enjoy her, so at some point I fully intend to read the full version of this one. I do enjoy Beaton’s writing, and loved her Hamish Macbeth series.
THE AUTHOR: Marion Chesney Gibbons
aka: Ann Fairfax, Jennie Tremaine, Helen Crampton, Marion Chesney, Charlotte Ward, Sarah Chester.
Marion Chesney was born on 1936 in Glasgow, Scotland, UK, and started her first job as a bookseller in charge of the fiction department in John Smith & Sons Ltd. While bookselling, by chance, she got an offer from the Scottish Daily Mail to review variety shows and quickly rose to be their theatre critic. She left Smith’s to join Scottish Field magazine as a secretary in the advertising department, without any shorthand or typing, but quickly got the job of fashion editor instead. She then moved to the Scottish Daily Express where she reported mostly on crime. This was followed by a move to Fleet Street to the Daily Express where she became chief woman reporter. After marrying Harry Scott Gibbons and having a son, Charles, Marion went to the United States where Harry had been offered the job of editor of the Oyster Bay Guardian. When that didn’t work out, they went to Virginia and Marion worked as a waitress in a greasy spoon on the Jefferson Davies in Alexandria while Harry washed the dishes. Both then got jobs on Rupert Murdoch’s new tabloid, The Star, and moved to New York.
Anxious to spend more time at home with her small son, Marion, urged by her husband, started to write historical romances in 1977. After she had written over 100 of them under her maiden name, Marion Chesney, and under the pseudonyms: Ann Fairfax, Jennie Tremaine, Helen Crampton, Charlotte Ward, and Sarah Chester, she getting fed up with 1714 to 1910, she began to write detectives stories in 1985 under the pseudonym of M. C. Beaton. On a trip from the States to Sutherland on holiday, a course at a fishing school inspired the first Constable Hamish Macbeth story. They returned to Britain and bought a croft house and croft in Sutherland where Harry reared a flock of black sheep. But Charles was at school, in London so when he finished and both tired of the long commute to the north of Scotland, they moved to the Cotswolds where Agatha Raisin was created.
DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of The Wizard of Evesham and The Murderous Marriage by M.C. Beaton, narrated by Penelope Keith and produced by BBC Audiobooks, via Overdrive. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com
This review and others are also published on Twitter and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3223109901