Monday, November 28, 2016

Review of "As the Pig Turns" by M.C. Beaton

Private detective Agatha Raisin - a stout fiftyish Englishwoman with small bear-like eyes and shiny brown hair - lives alone in Carsley, a pretty village in the Cotswolds. In this 22nd book in the series, business is slow and Agatha is bored - so she takes some friends and employees to nearby Winter Parva for a festive pig roast. As the pig is being basted, Agatha notices that the porker has a tattoo that spells out 'Amy.' Stop the roast! Turns out a pig's head has been attached to a human torso!

The victim is Gary Beech, a local policeman known for giving everyone traffic tickets for minor infractions. In fact Beech has recently given Agatha two tickets: for wiping her nose in the car and for driving 2 miles over the speed limit. Agatha has even loudly wished Beech dead. The murdered cop was an unpopular guy - but would village residents perpetrate such a bizarre crime?

Beech's ex-wife, Amy, hires Agatha to find the murderer - and the detective and her team get on the job. However, someone wants the inquiry stopped, and Agatha and her cohorts are threatened and harassed.....and one is even kidnapped. To top it off, Amy is soon found dead. Agatha is frightened off, but (of course) gets drawn back into the case.

Many familiar characters make an appearance in the story, including Agatha's ex-husband James - who assists with the investigation; public relations rep Roy - who loves to get his face on TV; aristocrat Charles - who always tries to get someone else to pay the check; agency employee Toni - who's tired of Agatha interfering in her life; Bill Wong - a policeman and friend; and Simon, a former employee who has reason to resent Agatha. Various thugs and miscreants round out the cast.

The premise of the book is interesting but the plot doesn't pan out. The detectives question people, gather evidence, and identify suspects - but it's all rather dull and and strays down too many mundane paths. By the end I didn't much care who committed the crime or why.

The personal lives of the regular characters are a little more engaging, but not much. Toni has a new beau; Simon is engaged; Roy has a new punk look; etc. Towards the end of the story Agatha falls into an old habit - developing a crush on a handsome man. I cringed for poor Agatha who's acting silly and getting ready to make a fool of herself (again).....probably in the next book.

This isn't one of the best Agatha Raisin books but if you're a big fan of the series you might enjoy it.

Rating: 2.5 stars

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