Monday, 10 November 2008

Agatha Raisin and the Fairies of Fryfam

I've finished the last of my borrowed Agatha Raisins, and that started me wondering just what it is I like about them. I don't think it's the mysteries particularly. They are not really intriguing enough to keep you on the edge of your seat, desperately turning pages to find out whodunnit. Much of the enjoyment of the Agathas is the humour, and that is based on character. Agatha gets to say all those things you wanted to yourself, but never dared to, and she is hilarious as she punctures pomposity, hypocrisy or simply speaks out about poor service. Ironically Agatha can be pompous and hypocritical herself, and it's funny to watch her get herself into awkward situations. She is basically good-natured though, despite all her intentions to the contrary, so at the same time as laughing, you are cringing with her and hoping she can get out of her latest scrape.

The characterisation is consistent throughout, from Mrs Bloxby's real goodness, to Charles's tight grip on his wallet, to the all-round awfulness of the Boggles. (Bring back the Boggles by the way! They haven't featured enough recently!) However, the characterisation is not static. M C Beaton can still surprise us with new details, such as Charles's addiction to Star Trek on Sky Television (naturally he watches Agatha's, presumably being far too tight to pay for it himself).

An added bonus to the stories is that although each one can be read individually, other story lines are developed across the whole series. (I think this is what is meant by that dreadful phrase, story arc).

Finally, I think there is a basic humanity to the characters, murderers excepted (and thankfully they always come to a satisfyingly-bad end).

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