Agatha Raisin: Dishing the Dirt | M.C. Beaton
Kernel Deb reviews the next in the Agatha Raisin series from M.C. Beaton, DISHING THE DIRT. The best way to sell Agatha Raisin I read from Entertainment Weekly. “Agatha is like Miss Marple with a drinking problem, a pack-a-day habit and major man lust. In fact, I think she could be living my dream life. – Entertainment Weekly.” Hahahaha – I love this. DISHING THE DIRT is out now from our friends at Hachette Australia. You will find this one in most bookstores or you can obtain it HERE. Enjoy Deb’s thoughts and get a book into you………………JK.
M.C. Beaton is back with another Agatha Raisin adventure, DISHING THE DIRT. In this instalment Agatha is out to discredit the dodgy new village therapist Jill Davent, when the woman inconveniently ends up dead. As the village body count rises, Agatha uncovers a range of additional crimes including intentional dog drowning, illegal electronic surveillance, assumed identity, poisoning and blackmail. George Clooney, cross-dressing, Aggie’s thick skull, and a well-placed cricket ball all play pivotal roles as M.C. Beaton’s feisty, flawed but funny heroine unmasks the real villains ensuring justice is done once again.
Agatha Raisin, or Aggie to her friends, was born in a Birmingham slum to alcoholic parents who eked out a living on social security benefits fortified by bouts of shop-lifting. Despite her parentage she goes on to run a hectic but successful London based public relations business. Aggie decides to sell her business and retire early at fifty-five. Forthright, opinionated, fond of drinking, smoking and sex, she naively envisages a settled pleasant retirement in the quiet village of Carsley in the Cotswolds. Unfortunately, following in the footsteps of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple and Caroline Graham’s Tom Barnaby, Aggie finds village life to be far from harmonious. Instead she finds it is a perennially dangerous hive of murder, mystery and mayhem.
In DISHING THE DIRT the new therapist in the village, Jill Davent seems intent on exposing Agatha’s less than salubrious origins. After a little investigating Agatha finds Davent’s credentials are suspect. She confronts Davent but is overheard yelling “I could kill you” at her shortly before her death. Perhaps not unexpectedly Agatha then finds herself in hot water with the local police who feel she is the number one suspect for Davent’s murder. Keen to clear her name Agatha sets out to find the real murderer only to find she is now a murder target herself.
Returning characters in DISHING THE DIRT include Detective Bill Wong, with yet another cougar crush, this time on the curvaceous detective sergeant Ruby Carsen; Agatha’s friend Margaret Bloxby the vicars wife; hunky ex-husband James Lacey who has recently been dating Jill Davant; Agatha’s sometimes lover Sir Charles Frith; and Roy Silver a colleague from her old PR firm. Catty one liners, high heels, ciggies, booze, and unorthodox investigative techniques all feature as Agatha and her friends blunder through this tale.
MC Beaton is the pen name for Scottish born writer Marion Gibbons. Gibbons was a journalist and a bookseller in her early years but discovered she could write fiction in the 1970’s. Often producing several novels a year in either the romance or mystery genres, her output has been truly prolific. In her more than 40 year career she has written over 160 novels using pseudonyms Marian Chesney, Ann Fairfax, Helen Crampton, Jennie Tremaine, Sarah Chester and Charlotte Ward. As MC Beaton she has created not only Agatha Raisin but the Hamish Macbeth series. The Hamish Macbeth series now numbers in the thirties. DISHING THE DIRT is the 26th Agatha Raisin. MC Beaton seems to be in no hurry to retire either character.
The Hamish Macbeth book series spawned the Robert Carlyle TV series which aired in 1995-1997. MC Beaton was not a fan of the series. For a start she objected to her six foot hero being turned into a weedy pot smoker. Moreover she was unhappy with the way in which her book plots were often combined or altered. Hence a TV series of Agatha Raisin seemed unlikely until recently. AGATHA RAISIN AND THE QUICHE OF DEATH aired on Sky1 in late 2014. The pilot episode starring UGLY BETTY actress, Ashely Jensen, luckily met Beaton’s approval. Consequently an eight part Agatha Raisin series filmed during 2015, is due to air on Sky1 from June 2016.
MC Beaton is the most borrowed adult fiction author in the British library network. Her characters verge on caricature; the dialogue is straightforward and a little snippy; and the convoluted murder plots appear intentionally similar to those in Christie’s Miss Marple novels. DISHING THE DIRT is true to this formula. It is not deep or drawn out, and despite several close calls, Aggie avoids an early demise.
Whilst the Agatha Raisin series sits within the subgenre of “cosy fiction,” fans of Kerry Greenwood’s antipodean amateur detective Phryne Fischer, or readers of Caroline Graham or vintage Agatha Christie could also find themselves amused by DISHING THE DIRT. And with the 27th Aggie adventure, PUSHING UP DAISIES, due out in September 2016, fans won’t have to wait long to enjoy another adventure.
Deborah is a lifelong lover of books, food, TV and film with a penchant for schlock horror, superheroes, science fiction, black comedy and Asian martial arts stars. She would prefer to skydive than couch surf and is a fan of zombie walks. She can be found plugged into podcasts on long walks with her dog.
** All images courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor/publisher – credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.