Today I’m reviewing Dishing the Dirt by M. C. Beaton. This is the newest book in Beaton’s Agatha Raisin series.
About the book (by the publisher): When therapist Jill Davent moved to the village of Carsley, Agatha Raisin was not a fan. Not only was this therapist romancing Agatha’s ex-husband but she dug up details of Agatha’s not-too-glamorous origins. Jill also counsels a woman, Gwen Simple, that Agatha firmly believes assisted her son in some grisly murders, although there is no proof. Not one to keep her feelings to herself, Agatha tells anyone who will listen that Jill is a charlatan and better off dead.
When Agatha learns that Jill had hired a private detective to investigate her background, she barges into Jill’s office and gives her a piece of her mind, yelling “I could kill you!” So when Jill is found strangled to death in her office two days later, Agatha becomes the prime suspect. But Agatha, along with her team of private detectives, is determined to prove her innocence and find the real culprit. This time, Agatha must use her skills to save her own skin.
My review: I’ve written about the Agatha Raisin series on this blog before. I enjoy this irascible, self-involved character created by M. C. Beaton. She’s vain, she has a tendency to approach romance as if she was still in her teens, she speaks too bluntly; but under all of that is someone who is vulnerable and cares about others (even though it sometimes can be difficult to see.)
Beaton’s books are modern takes on the English cozy mystery. Raisin lives in a small town in the Cotswolds, after having lived and worked in London for years. As in most cozy mysteries, there is always a cast of interesting and sometimes eccentric characters, lots of intrigue, and lots of dead bodies. I was struck when reading Dishing the Dirt by just how many people were killed off. There were a slew of them!
This is what I would call light (and fun) reading. Beaton always writes a complicated plot and this story has one as well. There are neat little twists and turns. However, Beaton’s style is terse. There’s not a lot of depth to the writing, nor is there meant to be. Characters are drawn with brief descriptions, and the events are written in an almost episodic manner – almost like a screenplay for a television series. Consequently, the book can be read in a day. Nothing wrong with that, of course, it’s Beaton’s style and sometimes that’s exactly what a reader (and I’m including myself here) wants.
I do find, however, that sometimes this terseness can leave gaps in the story. Agatha’s ex, who is also her next-door neighbor, is dating Davent. When Davent is murdered, one would think we’d get some sort of reference to her ex’s reaction. Is he sad? Does he care? But there is absolutely no reference to that at all. He isn’t even mentioned.
That being said, it’s an entertaining read. I always have fun reading an Agatha Raisin mystery. And if that’s what you’re looking for as a reader, I think you’ll enjoy the Agatha Raisin series and Dishing the Dirt.
About the author: M.C. Beaton has won considerable acclaim for her best-selling Hamish Macbeth and Agatha Raisin mysteries. She is also the author of over 100 romance titles and a series of romantic suspense, The Edwardian Mystery Series. M. C. Beaton lives in a Cotswold cottage with her husband.
Thank you to St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books for an advanced reader copy of Dishing the Dirt. It was published on September 15, 2015.
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