Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage (#5) by M.C. Beaton

Published: 1st December 1996 (print)/13 March 2009 (audio) Goodreads badge
Constable & Robinson/Bolinda Audio
Pages: 264/5 hrs and 56 mins
Narrator: Penelope Keith
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Cosy Mystery
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

Two husbands and a funeral!

The morning of Agatha’s marriage to James Lacey dawns bright and clear. But the storm clouds of the day before would have been more appropriate when Agatha’s first husband, Jimmy Raisin, turns up at the church just in time to keep her from committing bigamy. The ensuing uproar – Agatha tries to strangle Jimmy, whom she had thought long-dead anyway – embarrasses James, who breaks the engagement.

When Jimmy is found murdered the next morning, Agatha is the perfect suspect. Since the easiest way to clear her name is to find the real murderer, Agatha convinces James to help her investigate. But will their subsequent close proximity – which has them, ironically, pretending to be man and wife – be enough to win James second time around?

After five books it finally happened: Agatha snagged James in the most unbelievable romance ever to happen. After a proposal in the previous book that comes from nowhere, suddenly this story opens with it being their wedding day. I’m sure somewhere in between we’re meant to imagine a romantic engagement and wedding planning, loving interactions or even a demonstration of their romantic feelings in a realistic way because it certainly doesn’t come across in the book.

Agatha is completely obsessed with James, while James doesn’t appear to like Agatha. His reaction over being tricked by Agatha is harsh and one that I understand and also feel is a nice cop out for Beaton since I’m sure James never actually loved Agatha given everything he says and does at any point in time. His reasons for finding her attractive are shallow, but he is also controlling, demanding, and it highlights how desperate and deprived of affection Agatha is because she clings to this and ignores every red flag.

The curious thing is, while James has been uninterested in Agatha and her advances until now, he’s suddenly become meaner than previous portrayed. You could put this down to his rage at being humiliated at the church and his anger at Agatha, but even when the pair of them are working together his snide remarks and comments are hurtful and as previously mentioned, I never saw James show any real affection for Agatha and yet now he is even less of a friend and simply cruel. This could also be because previously James wasn’t a fleshed out character and now suddenly he needs to have emotions and a personality when before he had barely any of either.

We find out in the previous book how Agatha’s ex managed to find out she was about to get married which is fairly dirty given who does it and why. That was a shock to be fair because it is done out of spite and I’m amazed at how it panned out in this story. Agatha is also to blame for these events so it’s hard to have any real sympathy for her though.

Agatha’s reactions are over the top but her desire to clear her name are sound, even if she does so mainly by blundering about while also having near death experiences. This propels the story and is a legitimate reason for Agatha so be snooping and investigating. There is a lot of village life explored this time, with all the gossip and stigma around the scandal at the church, we also get to find out more of Agatha’s past and what she has been trying to hide. What I found interesting was even understanding where Agatha had come from and seeing how it affected her I didn’t warm up to her any more than before. But it did add some depth to her character which is important since Beaton seems averse to providing depth to her characters beyond the same physical descriptors over and over.

Credit to Beaton for giving us more on her characters and their histories, as well as making some complicated relationships for intrigue. The mystery was engaging and interestingly chaotic and aside from the few changes to characters which jar the story slightly it was an enjoyable read.

You can purchase Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Audible

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