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A (welcome) trip to the past

When I was a kid, “Murder she wrote” was televised at lunchtime. It was the time when my family had just added a new small TV in front of the kitchen table, silently breaking one of the golden rules of my infancy: no TV until after lunch, except when we got a cold. Yes, for some reason, my sister and I were allowed to watch TV while we underwent nebulizer treatment.

Anyway, I remember coming home from school (yes, we only went to school in the mornings, six days a week) to find the table set and the TV on. Don’t ask me why, but “Murder she wrote” is what we used to watch.

All this introduction to say that when I read the blurb of M.C. Beaton’s novel “Agatha Raisin and the quiche of death” on Amazon, I immediately got the “Murder she wrote” vibes. I’m a sucker for murder mysteries, after all, and I just needed an excuse to impulse-buy the book. Believe it or not, I have one for each book I bought in my life.

Back to the book: It’s the first in a series and it’s about Agatha Raisin, a middle-aged woman who has just retired after a career in public relations. She always focused on being the best at her job and overlooked everything else, all caught up in her dream of early retirement in a small and cozy village in Cotswold.

But things don’t play out as she imagined, because fitting in the life of a small village is no easy task, especially when coming from a big city like London. Still, Agatha is determined to succeed as she succeeded in her professional career. She decides to enter a quiche baking competition to “break the ice”, but, as she’s unable to cook even the simplest meal, she decides to cheat and buy a quiche from a shop in London, pretending she made it herself.

Problem is, the judge of the competition dies of cowbane poisoning the day after tasting her quiche. Agatha is revealed as a poisoner and right after that as a cheater when she confesses she didn’t bake the quiche (even though the police constable already spotted her unfamiliarity with kitchen tools), and the case is archived as an unfortunate incident. But is it so?

Convinced by constable Bill Wong, a young policeman that soon becomes a friend of hers, she doesn’t have to worry about it anymore. But then, why is it that everywhere she goes, there’s someone threatening her or attacking her because they see her as the one responsible for Mr. Cummings-Browne’s death? Of course, there must be something else to the story…

I’m not going to say any further about the plot because I don’t want to spoil it (even though the book is almost 30 years old), so I’ll just say that I loved it. Even though the murder wasn’t the real (or the only) theme of the story, and at times the story seemed to focus more on her loneliness and how she struggled to not give up her retirement dream.

Another thing that struck me in this book is that I was expecting Agatha to be a completely different character (older and more prone to befriend people, and to cook) I loved how she was depicted. And, as someone who has some hard times when it comes to building relationships with new people, at times I felt her.

When she gets to this new place with all her expectations, and she realizes that she never got ready for it. When she tries hard to fit in, how she struggles to show herself as a nice person, which she’s not, all intertwined with her sometimes very mean thoughts about the villagers.

As a bonus, a very welcome one because it really gave me the Jessica Fletcher vibes, she was reckless enough to confront the actual murderer alone at their place, without warning anyone about her intentions.

Did you read the book? What did you think about it? Don’t forget to let me know in the comments

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