Beating About the Bush (#30) by M. C. Beaton

Published: 3 October 2019 (print)/ 24 October 2019 (audio) Goodreads badge
Minotaur Books /Audible
Pages: 236/6 hrs and 22 mins
Narrator: Penelope Keith
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Cosy Mystery
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

When private detective Agatha Raisin comes across a severed leg in a roadside hedge, it looks like she is about to become involved in a particularly gruesome murder. Looks, however, can be deceiving, as Agatha discovers when she is employed to investigate a case of industrial espionage at a factory where nothing is quite what it seems.

The factory mystery soon turns to murder and a bad-tempered donkey turns Agatha into a national celebrity, before bringing her ridicule and shame. To add to her woes, Agatha finds herself grappling with growing feelings for her friend and occasional lover, Sir Charles Fraith. Then, as a possible solution to the factory murder unfolds, her own life is thrown into deadly peril. Will Agatha get her man at last? Or will the killer get her first?

Thirty books. Have I really suffered through thirty of these books? Though surprisingly I did not suffer that much this time around which came as a shock to no one more than myself. I went in with trepidation given past evidence and while it wasn’t perfect, there was a spark of the old writing style and structured, edited, and coherent storytelling.

The old outlandish plots are back with Agatha falling in love with a donkey whose been accused of murder. It was a strange shift from the Agatha of late, it was a refreshing change and so out of the blue it was easier to go along with it and revel in the absurdity of it all. The humour shown in earlier books is back, this time written well and used by characters in enjoyable ways so you fall comfortably into the story and accept it.

Agatha’s usual jealousy of Toni is there, a new love interest though as unsustainable as the others, and while the key characters get a mention, they are barely featured in the story. An offhanded reference here, one line there, they are hardly main players this time around as the focus is on the bigger plot of Agatha, Toni, and the donkey. Everything isn’t fixed entirely, the predictability remains, the outlandish outbursts and short temper of Agatha rains down on those who cross her, and we can’t have a new book without Agatha getting herself into dire strife. Things are better but there are no miracles.

Beaton passed away while I was reading this book and at the time I did hope someone was going to keep writing them because it looked like Beaton was finally realising that Charles and Agatha should be together. Reading the summary of one of the upcoming books I’m learning this was never going to eventuate. I’ve been burned before and watched good character development be pushed back into the box for worn out tropes and lazy writing so I have little hope on that front. The will they/won’t they is a good tantaliser but there must be a day when you can’t string it along forever. It’s actually annoying Beaton died after this book (if she was actually still writing them) because it’s the closest we’ve come to having Agatha and Charles get together and it’s a shame we didn’t get that as a reward for all the pain and suffering we’ve put up with. If nothing else the only thing I wanted as a reward from enduring thirty of these books was the two of them getting together and this is the closest Beaton has come without actually doing anything about it.

Because it’s taken me two years to write some of these reviews because of *gestures at everything* three more books have been published. Now, I don’t think I have the strength to read those three books but at the time this was the latest publication. This was my goal. This was where I wanted to get to and given the way this whole grand plan of mine worked out I think I’m going to stop. I read the thirty published books through 2020 and while it’s taken me longer to review them than planned I have met that goal and I don’t know if I feel inclined to keep going with the series. I’m calling that a win and while this was the most enjoyable book in a long, long while, I will wait and see if my own curiosity tempts me to see if the writing really does change with this new author and pick it up again. But if I’m honest with myself I really don’t think I’ll be back.

You can purchase Beating About the Bush via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | Wordery | Angus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible

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