Agatha Raisin and the Busy Body (#21) by M. C. Beaton

Published: 2010 (print)/14 Oct 2010 (audio) Goodreads badge
Constable & Robinson Ltd /Audible
Pages: 199/6 hrs and 15 mins
Narrator: Penelope Keith
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Cosy Mystery
★   ★ ★  – 3 Stars

Agatha Raisin has always been ambivalent about holiday cheer, but her cosy little village of Carsely has long prided itself on its Christmas festivities. But this year Mr. John Sunday, a self important officer with the Health and Safety Board, has ruled that the traditional tree on top of the church is a public menace; that lampposts are unsafe for hanging illuminations; that May Dimwoody’s homemade toys are dangerous for children.

Things have reached such a desperate pass that the Carsely Ladies’ Society joins forces with the ladies in the neighbouring village of Odley Cruesis to try to put a stop to Mr. Sunday’s meddling—only to find that someone has literally put a stop to him with a kitchen knife.

Agatha’s detective agency is on the case, but when a man has made as many enemies as John Sunday, it’s hard to know where to start.

We’ve had another Christmas (blink and you’ll miss it) and miraculously Agatha is still in her early fifties. I can’t remember which book it was but there was another one that had two Christmases in it and 21 books into this she is no longer in her early fifties no matter what weird time bubble they’re all living in.

I mentioned last time about things taking a long time, this takes place over the year and the fact people are still able to recall a murder so clearly and be as invested in it is a slight stretch, though I guess small town life people are quite nosey as has been shown through this series. Also over the course of the book quite a few more people end up murdered so that does keep the village interest high.

Agatha is still Agatha, I saw another review describe her has irascible which I absolutely love. It explains a lot about her and fits the myriad of moments where the second she gets inconvenienced or put out she turns to angry outbursts and starts insulting people or threatening to kill them. The stilted conversations reminds you again that Beaton can’t write a believable young adult conversation or stop herself from trying to mould them into the kinds of people she thinks they should be and their awkward dialogue reflects that.

The fact this takes place over a year is interesting because while the other stories weren’t exactly solved overnight, there were often only a few weeks of inaction, on occasion months; but this was a curious choice that made it less of a book about murder and more a snapshot of Carsely over a year that had a few murders in it which we move on from and reference ever now and again.

New characters are introduced and we see Toni trying to make something of her life with newcomer Simon but Agatha, who thinks she knows best, gets involved which was weird and incredible illogical but isn’t beyond what I expect of Agatha or Beaton at this point.

For all the faults in the writing and plot Keith does a superb job once again. Her narration is excellent and while listening to this kind of story tends to highlight the repetition and the jumping around of scenes it does make it more bearable.

You can purchase Agatha Raisin and the Busy Body via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | Angus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible

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