The Vicious Vet (#2) by M.C. Beaton

Published: 15th July 1994 (print)/1st July 2012 (audio) Goodreads badge
Minotaur Books/Bolinda Audio
Pages: 256/5 hrs and 13 mins
Narrator: Penelope Keith
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Cosy Mystery
★   ★   ★   ★ – 4 Stars

Retired PR boss Agatha Raisin is enjoying life in her pretty Cotswold village of Carsely. It even seems likely that the attractive new vet, Paul Bladen, has taken a shine to her. But before romance can blossom, Paul is killed in an accident with Lord Pendlebury’s horse. Only the circumstances are rather suspicious.

Agatha decides she must once more play amateur investigator. And this cloud has a silver lining – she can persuade her usually stand-offish neighbour, James Lacey, to become her partner in the quest. As usual, Agatha is quite prepared to rush in, heedless of the lurking menace to both James and herself.

I liked the mystery and the story was a nice length, a good mix of personal and mystery going on. Agatha’s obsession with her appearance and looking youthful make her act like a fool and do stupid things but that is who she is. Her abrasiveness and her rudeness are passed over by other people as she still manages to start investigating with James about the latest murder.

Beaton shows Agatha as having keen observational skills and great mind for detail and deduction which is how she manages to work out why these murders happen. It’s like the old stories where the police are incompetent and the solo amateur can solve the crime except the police aren’t entirely inept here and it’s more Agatha’s nosiness and desire to solve the mystery.

We see more of village life now that Agatha has settled in and we get to know a few of the villagers and Agatha’s relationships with them. We also see her growing infatuation with her neighbour James Lacey, but he doesn’t seem interested. The other characters are what you’d expect from a quaint village: vicar’s wives and ladies society members, as well as curmudgeon estate owners and other minor characters who pop in for the one or two lines and then disappear. Most are mentioned in passing but people like Mrs Bloxby and James are gradually becoming more established as key characters as they help Agatha adjust to village life and solve the murders around her.

Agatha is definitely a person you have to grow to tolerate, she is unlikable and annoying as a character but if that’s the way Beaton is portraying her then so be it. Her contrast to the other characters and people in the village show how much of an outsider she is but she tries to fit in in her own way which you have to give her credit for.

You can purchase The Vicious Vet via the following

 Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible

The Quiche of Death (#1) by M.C. Beaton

Published: 7th March 2006 (print)/5th July 2012 (audio) Goodreads badge
St. Martin’s Paperbacks/Bolinda Audio
Pages: 246/6 hrs and 25 mins
Narrator: Penelope Keith
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Mystery
★   ★   ★ – 3 Stars

Agatha has moved to a picture-book English village and wants to get in the swing. So she buys herself a quiche for the village quiche-making contest and is more than alarmed when it kills a judge. Hot on the trail of the poisoner, Agatha is fearless, all the while unaware, that she’s become the next victim….

I quite enjoyed this book. Agatha comes to the village from her big city job and Beaton provides all the explanations and justifications about why it’s possible. The problem being Agatha has built up in her mind what this kind of life would look like not understanding her own personality doesn’t quite fit in.

Agatha’s personality clashes with the gentler folk in the village but her own determination and insecurities push back and she gets herself into village life as she tries to live the life she’s always dreamt about. Entering the competition to try and assimilate but with no baking skills whatsoever she enters a bought quiche which cause more trouble and exposes Agatha’s fraud at the same time.

In a way you feel sorry for her, but other times you can see she only has herself to blame. The fact Beaton points out that prior to arriving at Carsely Agatha never had any friends is meant to make you sympathise with her, but also demonstrating her behaviour and interactions with other people it’s understandable why.

It’s a cosy mystery with a few rough edges. Agatha herself has a few rough edges herself as she smokes, drinks, swears and descents upon this quite village with her brashness and controlling nature. Coming from a world where money talks she uses that to solve her problems and her effect on the village is immediate.

The mystery itself was quite good, there are clues and secrets and it blends in with getting to know these new characters so the two work side by side. Keith does a good job as narrator, she has unique voices for the different characters and you can tell who’s going to be a reoccurring character. The story is a quick read but it didn’t feel incomplete, you get a sense of who the characters are and who Agatha is. Being the start of the series there are plenty of future stories to expand upon all the characters we have met and to delve further into the Carsely life.

You can purchase The Quiche of Death via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible