Monday, June 28, 2021

Beating About the Bush by M.C. Beaton

Listening to Vivaldi: Complete Oboe Concertos.

Another full moon.

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

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I listened to this on Hoopla while painting my house. I can say it was a fun mystery and made painting much more bearable, especially since the air conditioner broke and I had to paint most of the house in ninety plus (F thirty plus C) degree weather.

Agatha Raisin and her assistant detective Tony are driving through the country when they approach a clump of bushes. Tony grits her teeth because it seems that they can't drive past a clump of bushes without Agatha saying, "That's a great place to hide a body."

It's no different this time, except, there is a body! Or at least a leg. Agatha and Tony rush to the bushes see the leg, in fact they recognize the leg as belonging to the secretary of a company that has hired Agatha's detective agency to investigate possible espionage from a rival company.

The police are called, much ado is made, and then they all laugh at Agatha Raisin. The leg is fake.

This naturally makes the newspapers and Agatha, a rather vain person, is mortified. But she's also suspicious. Was this a trap to discredit her? If so, why? What is really going on at the company that has hired her?

The plot line is a simple murder mystery, but who gets murdered and why is not immediately apparent.

What is mostly enjoyable about Beaton's mysteries are the characters. They are very human. Agatha Raisin is a middle-aged plump, smoking drinking piece of brass. She's vain and pushy, but also very caring. She's deathly afraid of losing her young assistant, Tony, to marriage. Agatha herself has soured on marriage, more for selfish reasons than anything else.

I don't know if M.C. Beaton is trying to be realistic or has an ax to grind, but she makes marriage out to be the dullest, most boring occupation anyone could involve themselves in. Raising children is paramount to drudgery and voluntary slavery.

Relationships should be limited to sex with multiple partners. Agatha has no problem sleeping around and certainly doesn't plan commitment with anyone, but while she is working on a relationship with a new flame, she is outraged that one of her male harem has the audacity to get married.

And furthermore with someone he hasn't even slept with. She compares it to buying shoes without trying them on.

Call me old fashioned, by Agatha is rather a Trollope and comparing a human being with a pair of shoes as if other people are simply commodities to be used for personal pleasure is disgusting.

Then there's Tony trying to decide whether to marry her boyfriend, but arrives at the conclusion that marriage and family would be terminally boring and she's much better off being a detective.

That attitude is depressing enough, but also a bit presumptive. The story got me through painting my house, but otherwise wasn't all that interesting and certainly not more interesting than the relationships I have with my husband and son.

I'll read more of Agatha Raisin, but I may be holding my nose as I do so.

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mudpuddle said...

love those concerti; who's the oboist? M.C. Beaton. i think i've read a couple of her Agatha Raisin books and was not greatly impressed; there are a lot of other writers out there who are better, altho as i recall she also wrote the series about Hamish Macbeth that i like a lot...

Sharon Wilfong said...

Hi mudpuddle,

Agatha Raisin actually grew on me. Her earlier works have a more sympathetic character. As the series grew it seemed that the characters got less so. One reviewer even wondered if someone was ghostwriting for the author.

But I agree. I like Hamish MacBeth much better.

Debbie Nolan said...

Hi Sharon - hope your air conditioner is fixed now. Bet that was certainly a hot job in the midst of the heat. As for M.C.Beaton - have never read anything by this author. I enjoy a good mystery but may pass on this one...sounds like it might not be one I would enjoy. Hope you have a lovely 4th of July. Hugs!

Sharon Wilfong said...

Everything's good inside now. It's still horribly hot outside.

I like Beaton's Hamish MacBeth, but Agatha Raisin is just too caustic.