“Hiss and Hers: An Agatha Raisin Mystery” by M.C. Beaton / Tuesday, October 2, 2012 / Reviewed by Clay Stafford

Today’s featured book is Hiss and Hers: An Agatha Raisin Mystery by M.C.Beaton.

Snakes, snakes, everywhere, snakes!

Why Clay Stafford chose this book:

It was raining last night and I thought, as I listened to the rain patter against the window glass, that it was time for a good cozy. And what could have been more perfect than M.C. Beaton’s latest novel, “Hiss and Hers” about someone killing off the locals with deadly English adders? Listening to the rain and reading the novel, I began to think I was seeing snakes crawling along the shadows of the baseboards. For those not familiar with the series, Agatha Raisin owns a detective agency. The agency does everything from finding missing cats to solving murders that, of course, the police cannot solve. In this installment, Agatha decides to take a sabbatical from the detective agency to pursue the domestic life and hopefully find a husband. When the object of her love dies, then she is back in the grind, trying to discover the culprit, which – as it should – puts her and the rest of her meddling staff in danger, and thus the novel unfolds. As mysteries would have it, the gardener (George) was not what he had appeared to be and that adds more conflict to the mix. I felt for the main character, Ms. Raisin. She is an mature woman and has developed feelings, which dually makes her giddy and embarrassed, as well as adorable and embarrassing. Love has left her blind and after the murder, she realizes just how nearsighted she actually is. Plot-wise, it’s “Murder She Wrote” but not with your expected Jessica Fletcher. Agatha is not the stereotypical up-and-up detective: she’s hot headed, sometimes crass, impulsive, tactless, co-dependent, desperate, unscrupulous, dysfunctional, and sometimes her activities might even be illegal. But she is human. You may not like her at all times, but you know her as well as yourself. There is something to be said for character honesty and something that you don’t always find in the perfect heroes and heroines of most cozy fare. The points-of-view bounce around in James Patterson terseness. Little time is wasted. As with most cozies, there is a great deal of “coincidence,” but that’s part of the genre. It’s to be read for fun. At times, the police are a bit incompetent and fudging on procedure, but then – if they weren’t – the detective agency wouldn’t have much to do other than find stray cats. There are some good scenes. The one with Agatha getting the box of chocolates being one of my visual favorites and a scene in the graveyard will have you laughing. A line of Agatha’s sums up her strategy aptly: “I haven’t the resources of the police, so I usually just blunder about until something breaks.” If you want a cozy to tear apart to see how to put one back together again, then this one is perfect for a look under the hood. M.C. Beaton has written at least 32 novels, many bestselling, under the M.C. Beaton pseudonym alone (not counting those books written under her at least 7 other pseudonyms). She is obviously – like Ms. Agatha – doing something right. If cozy is your genre, learn from the best.

From Amazon:

“If only the bossy, beloved Agatha Raisin were as lucky at finding the right man as she is at catching killers in M. C. Beaton’s New York Times bestselling mystery series

Celebrating the twentieth anniversary of everyone’s favorite sleuth, M. C. Beaton’s Agatha Raisin is as feisty as ever – armed with her famous wit and biting sense of humor. This time, though, there’s some biting of a whole other sort going on. Agatha has fallen head over heels in love – again. This time, she has her eye on the local gardener, George Marston, but so do other women in their little Cotswold village. Shamelessly determined, Agatha will do anything to get her man – including footing the bill for a charity ball just for the chance to dance with him. And then George doesn’t even show up. Only partly deterred, Agatha goes looking for him, and finds his dead body in a compost heap. Murder is definitely afoot, but this killer chose no ordinary weapon: A poisonous snake delivered the fatal strike.

Rising to the occasion, Agatha rallies her little detective agency to find the killer, only to learn that George had quite a complicated love life. But murderously complicated? Well, if she can’t have George, at least Agatha can have the satisfaction of confronting the other women and solving the crime. With Hiss & Hers, once again, “M. C. Beaton has a foolproof plot for the village mystery” (The New York Times Book Review) in the irresistible adventures of the irrepressible Agatha.”

If you want to make your own comments on this selection, we would love to hear from you. Join ourFacebook Killer Nashville group page or our blog and join in the discussion.

Remember that these books are listed at a discount through Amazon. You also don’t have to purchase the version that is featured here. Many of these books are available in multiple formats: e–book, hardcover, softcover, and audio. Enjoy!

– Clay Stafford, Founder of Killer Nashville