Title: Agatha Raisin: As The Pig Turns
Author: M.C. Beaton
Publication date: April 19th, 2012
Publisher: Constable & Robinson
Length: 294 pages
Age group: Adult
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Buy it: Amazon US | Amazon UK | The Book Depository
Winter Parva, a traditional Cotswolds village next door to Carsely, has decided to throw a celebratory hog roast to mark the beginning of the winter holiday festivities. And Agatha Raisin has arrived with friend and rival in the sleuthing business, Toni, to enjoy the merriment. But as the spit pig is carried towards the bed of fiery charcoal, Agatha – and the rest of the village – realise that things aren’t as they seem…
Very quickly it transpires that the hog roast is in fact the body of Gary Beech, a policeman not much loved in Winter Parva. And although Agatha has every intention of leaving the affair to the police, she just can’t resist in joining the fray to try and solve the case herself!
The Agatha Raisin series was recommended to me by many of my bookish friends, so naturally, I had to find out what the hype was about. When I first read the synopsis, I was expecting something along the lines of a modern day Miss Marple or the female version of Sherlock Holmes, but that’s where I was wrong. M.C. Beaton’s series, in fact, is quite different from both Doyle’s and Christie’s novels. Did I still enjoy it? I would say yes.
To be frank, I haven’t read any of Beaton’s previous books in the series but I had no difficulties with getting into the story whatsoever. As The Pig Turns is the 22nd instalment but don’t be put off if you haven’t read any Agatha Raisin books before – you’ll be able to figure out who’s who soon enough. Agatha Raisin is a middle-aged woman with a nicotine addiction and a penchant for swearing, and being disagreeable. Even though I was expecting something entirely different and it took me some time to actually get to know and like her, I managed to warm to her after a while. Even though she has a reputation for her ‘stiff upper lip’, you cannot help noticing that there’s a more vulnerable side to her and despite the fact that she deals with murder on a daily basis, she’s still as frightened as we are.
As much as I’d like to say it was a fantastic read, there’s still a few things I think this book is lacking. As far as the characters are concerned, it’s great. As far as the plot is concerned, it’s not so great. What I missed the most was details. I love the fact that the book is fast paced but most of the time I felt like we were flying through a lot of details that might have been important for us readers. We don’t know what goes on in Agatha’s mind and we’re not given any clues by the police either. Forget everything you’ve read in Christie’s novels, from lengthy explanations to detailed crime scenes and investigations – this book is definitely not like that. Maybe it’s just the Christie fan in me that says this but I think this book could have been so much better if it was more focused on details. What I love the most about mysteries is the fact that readers are part of the investigation process. You get a chance to guess who the murderer might be or what the motive might have been – and in many cases, the book just keeps you guessing right until the end. As for As The Pig Turns, however, I didn’t have this feeling at all and now that I know what happens, I don’t think anyone could have guessed what was going on or who might be the one to blame.
Other than that, I think you should give this series a try if you like fast paced mysteries. The characters will really grow on you along the way and you’ll find yourself breezing through the story as Agatha and her staff are faced with different obstacles and enemies each day. Even though it was slightly less detailed than I would have liked it to be, all in all it was an exciting read.