The Quiche of Death ( An Agatha Raisin Mystery) – M.C. Beaton

9781849011341Let’s begin with ‘what is a quiche?’

A quiche is a savoury, open-faced pastry crust with a filling of savoury custard with cheese, meat, fish or vegetables. Easy to slip in a little something to get someone out of the way.

Agatha Raisin is a middle – aged PR consultant, who decides to retire early to a small village called Carsely, in Cotswold. She is one of those people who are full of energy and unable to sit still for long. This quality does not serve her well in a laid back village where her need to take control and be better than everyone around her lands her in an awful pickle, namely serving a store- bought quiche for a cooking competition; which turns out to be poisoned and results in a death. As Agatha realizes that the villagers though polite to her, refuse to accept her as their own, she feels she must solve the case of the poisoned quiche to clear her name and to endear herself to the locals.

Agatha Raisin is not a likable character. She is terribly selfish and has no concept of honor in her mad rush to get whatever she wants. She is terribly insecure about herself and wants everyone around her to look up to her and treat her like a Goddess. Being city – bred, she also displays a feeling of superiority to the country folk, often sticking out like a sore thumb in the process. And yet, this is the effect the author desired. Agatha is a woman who will do whatever she needs to do in order to get what she wants. Her need to be accepted and universally loved while she herself is often rude and uncaring of other people often grates on the reader.

Still, with all her character flaws, you want to find out the results of her mad  dashing about and her convulated schemes. Because there is no doubt as to the fact that she is intelligent. At times one feels sympathy with her and at other times there is a strong urge to shake her hard and tell her to ‘grow up’. I have definitely known people with the insecurities that Agatha feels but her churlishness irritates me no end. You have to be a person with a huge heart in order to look past Agatha’s small -mindedness and mean- heartedness. And as luck would have it, she does find several such brave souls in the village.  Its not my fault entirely that I have taken her in such dislike; the author wanted me to. It was deliberate.

The story is simple written with enough twists and turns to keep you captivated. The author M.C. Beaton has written several books under various pseudonyms and I must say I was awed by her writing prowess and the ability to imagine so much and so well. The Agatha Raisin series have been written the latest in her career and I wonder who has she based the character of her book on.

That said, I read the next few novels in the series too, just to see how Agatha Raisin goes on in the village. And then I just gave up on her as she keeps making blunder on blunder in her social life while solving the most outrageous cases. I will definitely revisit the Agatha Raisin series sometime in the future, but she was too much to take in, in one go.

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