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Showing posts tagged: Agatha Raisin Series click to see more stuff tagged with Agatha Raisin Series
Wed
Oct 4 2017 11:00am

5 New Books to Read this Week: October 3, 2017

Every Wednesday, we here at Criminal Element will put together a list of Staff Picks of the books that published the day before—sharing the ones that we are looking forward to reading the most!

The first in a new series from Ellie Alexander combines with M. C. Beaton's 28th Agatha Raisin Mystery and Dan Brown's latest for a killer week of books! See what else we're reading:

[See this week's Top 5...]

Tue
Oct 3 2017 11:00am

Review: The Witches’ Tree by M. C. Beaton

The Witches Tree by M. C. BeatonThe Witches' Tree by M. C. Beaton is the 28th book in the Agatha Raisin series.

Take a visual tour of The Witches' Tree with GIFnotes!

This year marks the 25th anniversary of cantankerous British crime buster Agatha Raisin, who has transcended on-the-page fame to achieve small-screen infamy in recent years. To commemorate the occasion, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author M. C. Beaton—heralded as the “Queen of Crime” (The Globe and Mail)—returns to her venerable series with the release of its 28th entry, The Witches’ Tree.

Befitting of her stature, Agatha Raisin—a retired PR agent-turned-private detective—makes a fashionably late appearance (otherwise known as “Chapter 2”). Instead, readers are first introduced to aging ambassador Sir Edward Chumble and his much younger (and far less diplomatic) wife, Tiffany. The two are hosting a dinner party at their home in the Cotswolds that gathers together a small-yet-eclectic group of friends and acquaintances, including the new vicar from the nearby parish of St. Edmund. After all, inviting the vicar seems the thing to do, if reading about life in such quaint surroundings has taught them anything. But good intentions be damned, the night is fraught with tension, making The Witches’ Tree’s opening reference to another indomitable Agatha all the more appropriate:

[Read John Valeri's review of The Witches' Tree...]

Fri
Sep 29 2017 3:30pm

Book-Inspired Cocktails: “The Witches’ Tea”

Agatha Raisin is back! Celebrate with this week's Pick Your Poison—where we create a cocktail inspired by a recently published mystery, thriller, or crime novel—“The Witches' Tea” cocktail, inspired by M. C. Beaton's 28th Agatha Raisin Mystery, The Witches' Tree!

[Check out the recipe below!]

Wed
Sep 20 2017 2:30pm

The Witches’ Tree by M. C. Beaton: A Visual Guide

GIFnotes: Giving you the basic plot summary of an upcoming book with the help of the Graphics Interchange Format.

This week, head back to the Cotswolds with a visual tour of M. C. Beaton's 28th Agatha Raisin Mystery, The Witches' Tree!

[Like CliffsNotes, but more fun...]

Wed
Jun 21 2017 9:00am
Excerpt

M. C. Beaton Excerpt: The Witches’ Tree

M. C. Beaton

The Witches Tree by M. C. BeatonThe Witches' Tree by M. C. Beaton is the 28th book in the Agatha Raisin series (available October 7, 2017).

Cotswolds inhabitants are used to inclement weather, but the night sky is especially foggy as Rory and Molly Devere, the new vicar, and his wife, drive slowly home from a dinner party in their village of Sumpton Harcourt. They strain to see the road ahead—and then suddenly brake, screeching to a halt. Right in front of them, aglow in the headlights, a body hangs from a gnarled tree at the edge of town. Margaret Darby, an elderly spinster, has been murdered—and the villagers are bewildered as to who would commit such a crime.

Agatha Raisin rises to the occasion (a little glad for the excitement, to tell the truth, after a long run of lost cats and divorces on the books). But Sumpton Harcourt is a small and private village, she finds—a place that poses more questions than answers. And when two more murders follow the first, Agatha begins to fear for her reputation—and even her life. That the village has its own coven of witches certainly doesn't make her feel any better...

[Read an excerpt from The Witches' Tree...]

Fri
Jan 13 2017 5:30pm

Win the First 10 Agatha Raisin Books!

M.C. Beaton has been writing Agatha Raisin books for 25 years now, and it's taken that long for the popular book series to come to the screen. The new Agatha Raisin show, starring Ashley Jensen of Ugly Betty fame, premieres on 11 public television stations this month, and has been airing on the Acorn platform available through Apple TV and Amazon. 

Beaton (also known under her real name, Marion Chesney) loves the casting of Jensen even though she's a lot younger than Agatha in the books. “Finding an exact match for Agatha as described in the book would be very difficult,” says Beaton. “You need someone with comedy timing, and yet who’s a good actress. She manages to do both. Ashley is in my opinion as good as it gets.”

To celebrate the new series, we're giving away the first 10 Agatha Raisin books in the series—most of which were converted into episodes for the series. 

Enter below to win!

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OFFICIAL RULES

NO PURCHASE OR PAYMENT OF ANY KIND IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN THIS SWEEPSTAKES. OPEN ONLY TO LEGAL RESIDENTS OF THE 50 UNITED STATES, D.C. AND CANADA (EXCLUDING QUEBEC) WHO ARE 18 YEARS OF AGE OR OLDER AND OF THE LEGAL AGE OF MAJORITY THE TIME OF ENTRY. U.S. LAW GOVERNS THIS SWEEPSTAKES. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.

  1. ELIGIBILITY: The Agatha Raisin Series Sweepstakes (the “Sweepstakes”) is open only to persons who as of the date of entry (and, if a winner, as of the date of prize fulfillment) are a legal resident of the 50 United States, District of Columbia or Canada (excluding Quebec) and who are 18 years of age or older and of the legal age of majority in the jurisdiction in which he or she resides. We are sorry for the geographic restrictions, unfortunately it is required for various legal reasons. Persons who as of the date of entry (and, if a winner, as of the date of prize fulfillment) are an employee of Criminal Element (“Sponsor”) or any of Sponsor's Affiliates (as defined in Section 5), and members of the immediate family or household (whether or not related) of any such employee, are not eligible. Eligibility determinations will be made by Sponsor in its discretion and will be final and binding. U.S. law governs this Sweepstakes. Void in Quebec and where prohibited by law.
     
  2. HOW TO ENTER: The entry period for the Sweepstakes begins at 12:00 AM Eastern Time (ET) on Friday, January 13, 2017 and continues through 11:59 p.m. ET on Friday, February 2, 2017 (the “Entry Period”). No purchase is necessary. Any entrant who is under 18 years of age or otherwise under the legal age of majority in the jurisdiction in which the entrant resides (a “Minor”) must obtain permission to enter from his or her parent or legal guardian, and the agreement of the parent or legal guardian to these Official Rules, prior to entry. To enter the Sweepstakes, during the Entry Period, entrants must access, complete and submit the Sweepstakes entry form (which will require entrant to submit his or her e-mail address and such other information as Sponsor may require), found in entrant's Facebook newsfeed or alternatively by visiting Sponsor's website located at https://www.criminalelement.com/blogs/2017/01/win-the-first-ten-agatha-raisin-books. (the “Website”) and following the on screen entry instructions. The Facebook entry form may be pre-filled with information provided by the Facebook platform. There is a limit of one entry per person and per email address. All entries must be completed and received by Sponsor prior to the conclusion of the Entry Period. Entry times will be determined using Sponsor's computer, which will be the official clock for the Sweepstakes. Normal time rates, if any, charged by the entrant's Internet or mobile service provider will apply. All entries are subject to verification at any time. Proof of submission does not constitute proof of entry. Sponsor will have the right, in its discretion, to require proof of identity and/or eligibility in a form acceptable to Sponsor (including, without limitation, government-issued photo identification). Failure to provide such proof to the satisfaction of Sponsor in a timely manner may result in disqualification.
     
  3. WINNER SELECTION AND NOTIFICATION: Following the conclusion of the Entry Period,

One (1) potential Grand Prize winner(s) will be selected in a random drawing conducted by Sponsor or its agent from among all eligible entries received during the Entry Period. The odds of winning will depend on the number of eligible entries received. The potential winner will be notified by e-mail (sent to the e-mail address provided by the entrant when entering), or using other contact information provided by the potential winner, in Sponsor's discretion. If the initial notification requires a response, the potential winner must respond to Sponsor's initial notification attempt within 72 hours. The potential winner is subject to verification of eligibility and may, in Sponsor's discretion, be required to complete, sign and return to Sponsor an Affidavit of Eligibility/Release of Liability or an Affirmation of Eligibility/Release of Liability, as determined by Sponsor, and, if legally permissible, a Publicity Release, collectively, a “Declaration and Release” for residents of Canada) and any other documentation provided by Sponsor in connection with verification of the potential winner's eligibility and confirmation of the releases and grant of rights set forth herein (as applicable, “Winner Verification Documents”), within seven days of attempted delivery of same. The potential winner if a U.S. resident may also in Sponsor's discretion be required to complete and return to Sponsor an IRS Form W-9 within seven days of attempted delivery of same. If the potential winner is a Minor, Sponsor will have the right to request that the potential winner's parent or legal guardian sign the Winner Verification Documents on behalf of the winner, or to award the prize directly in the name of the winner's parent or legal guardian, who in such event will be required to sign the Winner Verification Documents and/or, if a U.S. resident, an IRS Form W-9. If the potential winner is a Canadian resident, he or she will be required to correctly answer a mathematical skill testing question without mechanical or other aid to be administered via telephone, email or another manner determined by Sponsor in its discretion at a pre-arranged mutually convenient time. If the potential winner cannot be reached or does not respond within 72 hours of the initial notification attempt or fails to complete, sign, and return any required Winner Verification Documents or, if a U.S. resident, IRS Form W-9 within seven days of attempted delivery of same, or in the case of a Canadian selected entrant, fails to correctly answer the mathematical skill testing question without mechanical or other aid, or if the potential winner does not otherwise comply with these Official Rules and/or cannot accept the prize as awarded for any reason, then the potential winner may be disqualified and an alternate winner may, at Sponsor's discretion, be selected from among the remaining eligible entries as specified in these Official Rules (in which case the foregoing provisions will apply to such newly-selected entrant).

  1. PRIZE:

One (1) Grand Prize(s) will be offered. The Grand Prize consists of one (1) trade paperback The Quiche of Death by M.C. Beaton (ARV: $19.99), one (1) trade paperback The Vicious Vet by M.C. Beaton (ARV: $18.99), one (1) trade paperback The Potted Gardener by M.C. Beaton (ARV: $21.99), one (1) trade paperback The Walkers of Dembley by M.C. Beaton (ARV: $18.99), one (1) trade paperback Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage by M.C. Beaton (ARV: $18.99), one (1) trade paperback Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist by M.C. Beaton (ARV: $16.99), one (1) trade paperback Agatha Raisin and the Wellspring of Death by M.C. Beaton (ARV: $17.99), one (1) trade paperback Agatha Raisin and the Wizard of Evesham by M.C. Beaton (ARV: $16.99), one (1) trade paperback Agatha Raisin and the Witch of Wyckhadden by M.C. Beaton (ARV: $17.99), and one (1) trade paperback Agatha Raisin and the Faries of Fryfam by M.C. Beaton (ARV: $18.99). The approximate retail value (“ARV”) of the Grand Prize is $187.90 USD.  
Approximate Retail Value (“ARV”) of the Prize: $187.90. Approximate retail value of all prizes: $187.90 br/> The exact value will depend on where the winner resides and market conditions at the time of prize fulfillment.
All prize details that are not expressly specified in these Official Rules will be determined by Sponsor in its discretion. The prize will be awarded if properly claimed. No substitution, cash redemption or transfer of the right to receive the prize is permitted, except in the discretion of Sponsor, which has the right to substitute the prize or any component of the prize with a prize or prize component of equal or greater value selected by Sponsor in its discretion. The prize consists only of the item(s) expressly specified in these Official Rules. All expenses or costs associated with the acceptance or use of the prize or any component of the prize are the responsibility of the winner. The prize is awarded “as is” and without any warranty, except as required by law. In no event will more than the number of prizes stated in these Official Rules be awarded. All federal, state and local taxes on the value of the prize are the responsibility of the winner. For U.S. residents, an IRS form 1099 will be issued if required by law.

  1. RELEASE AND LIMITATION OF LIABILITY: By entering the Sweepstakes, to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law, each entrant on behalf of himself or herself and anyone who succeeds to entrant's rights and responsibilities including without limitation entrant's heirs, executors, administrators, personal representatives, successors, assigns, agents, and attorneys, and with respect to minors entrant's parents and legal guardians (collectively the “Entrant Parties”) releases Sponsor, each of Sponsor's Affiliates, the licensees and licensors other than Entrant Parties including authors of each of the foregoing, all other companies involved in the development or operation of the Sweepstakes, Facebook, the successors and assigns of each of the foregoing and the directors, officers, employees and agents of each of the foregoing (collectively, the “Released Parties”) from and against any and all claims and causes of action of any kind that the Entrant Parties ever had, now has or might in the future have arising out of or relating to the Sweepstakes, participation in the Sweepstakes, the use of the Website, the provision, acceptance or use of any prize or any component thereof or any use of the entrant's name as permitted pursuant to these Official Rules, including without limitation any and all claims and causes of action: (a) relating to any personal injury, death or property damage or loss sustained by any entrant or any other person, (b) based upon any allegation of violation of the right of privacy or publicity, misappropriation, defamation, or violation of any other personal or proprietary right, (c) based upon any allegation of infringement of copyright, trademark, trade dress, patent, trade secrets, moral rights or any intellectual property right, or (d) or based upon any allegation of a violation of the laws, rules or regulations relating to personal information and data security. Each entrant on behalf of himself or herself and the Entrant Parties agrees not to assert any such claim or cause of action against any of the Released Parties. Each entrant on behalf of himself or herself and the Entrant Parties assumes the risk of, and all liability for, any injury, loss or damage caused, or claimed to be caused, by participation in this Sweepstakes, the use of the Website, or the provision, acceptance or use of any prize or any component of any prize. The Released Parties are not responsible for, and will not have any liability in connection with, any typographical or other error in the printing of the offer, administration of the Sweepstakes or in the announcement of the prize. The Released Parties are not responsible for, and will not have any liability in connection with, late, lost, delayed, illegible, damaged, corrupted or incomplete entries, incorrect or inaccurate capture of, damage to, or loss of entries or entry information, or any other human, mechanical or technical error of any kind relating to the operation of the Website, communications or attempted communications with any entrant or Entrant Parties, the submission, collection, storage and/or processing of entries or the administration of the Sweepstakes. The term “Affiliate of Sponsor means any entity that directly or indirectly, through one or more intermediaries, controls, is controlled by, or is under common control with Sponsor. The term “control” means the possession, directly or indirectly, of the power to direct or cause the direction of management and policies of an entity, or the ownership, directly or indirectly, of more than fifty percent (50%) of the equity interests of the entity.
     
  2. GENERAL RULES: Sponsor has the right, in its sole discretion, to modify these Official Rules (including without limitation by adjusting any of the dates and/or timeframes stipulated in these Official Rules) and to cancel, modify or suspend this Sweepstakes at any time in its discretion, including without limitation if a virus, bug, technical problem, entrant fraud or misconduct, or other cause beyond the control of the Sponsor corrupts the administration, integrity, security or proper operation of the Sweepstakes or if for any other reason Sponsor is not able to conduct the Sweepstakes as planned (including without limitation in the event the Sweepstakes is interfered with by any fire, flood, epidemic, earthquake, explosion, labor dispute or strike, act of God or of public enemy, communications failure, riot or civil disturbance, war (declared or undeclared), terrorist threat or activity, federal, state, provincial, territorial or local law, order or regulation or court order) or in the event of any change to the terms governing the use of Facebook or the application or interpretation of such terms. In the event of termination of the Sweepstakes, a notice will be posted on the Website or Sponsor's Facebook page and a random drawing will be conducted to award the prize from among all eligible entries received prior to the time of termination. Sponsor has the right, in its sole discretion, to disqualify or prohibit from participating in the Sweepstakes any individual who, in Sponsor's discretion, Sponsor determines or believes (i) has tampered with the entry process or has undermined the legitimate operation of the Website or the Sweepstakes by cheating, hacking, deception or other unfair practices, (ii) has engaged in conduct that annoys, abuses, threatens or harasses any other entrant or any representative of Sponsor or (iii) has attempted or intends to attempt any of the foregoing. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE ANY WEBSITE OR SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM ASSOCIATED WITH THIS SWEEPSTAKES OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THIS SWEEPSTAKES IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAW. SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR HAS THE RIGHT TO SEEK DAMAGES (INCLUDING ATTORNEYS' FEES) FROM ANY PERSON INVOLVED TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. The use of agents or automated devices, programs or methods to submit entries is prohibited and Sponsor has the right, in its sole discretion, to disqualify any entry that it believes may have been submitted using such an agent or automated device, program or method. In the event of a dispute regarding who submitted an entry, the entry will be deemed to have been submitted by the authorized account holder of the email address submitted at the time of entry. “Authorized account holder” means the person who is assigned an email address by an internet provider, online service provider or other organization (e.g., business, educational institute, etc.) that is responsible for assigning email addresses for the domain associated with the submitted email address. An entrant may be required to provide proof (in a form acceptable to Sponsor, including, without limitation, government-issued photo identification) that he or she is the authorized account holder of the email address associated with the entry in question. All federal, state, provincial, territorial and local laws and regulations apply. All entries become the property of Sponsor and will not be verified or returned. By participating in this Sweepstakes, entrants on behalf of themselves, and to the extent permitted by law on behalf of the Entrant Parties agree to be bound by these Official Rules and the decisions of Sponsor, which are final and binding in all respects. These Official Rules may not be reprinted or republished in any way without the prior written consent of Sponsor.
     
  3. DISPUTES: By entering the Sweepstakes, each entrant on behalf of himself or herself and the Entrant Parties agrees that, to the maximum extent permitted by applicable law, (a) any and all disputes, claims and causes of action arising out of or connected with the Sweepstakes, or the provision, acceptance and/or use of any prize or prize component, will be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action (Note: Some jurisdictions do not allow restricting access to class actions. This provision will not apply to you if you live in such a jurisdiction); (b) any and all claims, judgments and awards shall be limited to actual out-of-pocket costs incurred, including costs associated with entering the Sweepstakes, but in no event attorneys' fees; and (c) under no circumstances will any entrant or Entrant Party be permitted to obtain any award for, and each entrant and Entrant Party hereby waives all rights to claim, punitive, special, incidental or consequential damages and any and all rights to have damages multiplied or otherwise increased and any other damages, other than for actual out-of-pocket expenses. All issues and questions concerning the construction, validity, interpretation and enforceability of these Official Rules or the rights and obligations of the entrants, Entrant Parties and Sponsor in connection with the Sweepstakes shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with, the laws of the State of New York in the United States of America without giving effect to any choice of law or conflict of law rules or provisions that would cause the application of the laws of any jurisdiction other than the State of New York. Any legal proceedings arising out of this Sweepstakes or relating to these Official Rules shall be instituted only in the federal or state courts located in New York County in the State of New York, waiving any right to trial by jury, and each entrant and Entrant Party consents to jurisdiction therein with respect to any legal proceedings or disputes of whatever nature arising under or relating to these rules or the Sweepstakes. In the event of any conflict between these Official Rules and any Sweepstakes information provided elsewhere (including but not limited in advertising or marketing materials), these Official Rules shall prevail.
     
  4. USE OF INFORMATION: Please review the Sponsor's Privacy Notice at http://us.macmillan.com. By entering the sweepstakes, entrant hereby agrees to Sponsor's collection and use of their personal information in accordance with such Notice, including the use of entrant's personal information to send email updates about Criminal Element, and other information from Sponsor and its related companies.
     
  5. WINNER NAME AND RULES REQUESTS: For the name(s) of the winner(s), which will be available two weeks after the conclusion of the Entry Period, or a copy of these Official Rules, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Agatha Raisin Series Sweepstakes, Criminal Element, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York NY 10010. Winner name requests must be received by Sponsor within six months after the conclusion of the Entry Period.
     
  6. SPONSOR: Criminal Element, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York NY 10010. The Sweepstakes is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.



 
Thu
Dec 1 2016 3:00pm

Holiday Cozy Bookshelf Shopping List

December is upon us, and with it comes all the joys and wonders (and murder) of the holiday season! While we normally compile a list of all of the upcoming soft-boiled mysteries for the month (see December's titles!), we decided to put together a list of all of the winter/holiday-themed cozies we could find. Know of any other great holiday cozies? Let us know in the comments!

Like this shopping list? Sign up for our weekly newsletter to stay in touch with all our cozy content!

[Let's get to the goodies!]

Thu
Nov 10 2016 2:00pm

Now Win This!: GIFnotes Sweepstakes

Each week at CrimeHQ, we like to give an upcoming book the GIFnotes treatment. For those that don't know:

GIFnotes = Giving you the basic plot summary of an upcoming book with the help of the Graphics Interchange Format.

After creating several visual guides to our favorite books, we'd like to give YOU the opportunity to win 12 incredible novels! Each one has received the GIFnotes treatment—which you can find links to below. Enter for your chance to win, and make sure to check back each Wednesday for the latest installment!

Click here to enter for a chance to win!

This is NOT a Comments Sweepstakes. You must click the link above to enter.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. A PURCHASE DOES NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 years or older as of the date of entry. Promotion begins November 10, 2016, at 2:00 pm ET, and ends November 24, 2016, 1:59 pm ET. Void in Puerto Rico and wherever prohibited by law. Click here for details and official rules.

[It moves! The picture, it moves!]

Mon
Sep 26 2016 11:00am

Agatha Raisin 1.08: “The Murderous Marriage” Episode Review

Our season is at an end, and it couldn’t have been a more exciting finale. The entire season seemed to be leading up to this event. Agatha Raisin (Ashley Jensen) is getting ready for her upcoming nuptials—to James Lacey (Jamie Glover). 

Drunk at her hen party, Agatha tells Gemma (Katy Wix) that her only wish is for Gemma to get together with Bill Wong (Matt McCooey). Meanwhile, a homeless man is looking at a newspaper announcement of PR guru Agatha Raisin’s upcoming marriage, and he seems quite disturbed by it. We know this will not bode well for Agatha.

Church bells ring and James and Charles Fraith (Jason Merrells) are in the church waiting for the bride. Roy Silver (Mathew Horne) walks Aggie down the aisle. However, the blissful event is interrupted when Bill Wong runs in yelling “Stop!” Is Bill trying to stop the wedding because he has a crush on Agatha? Nope. He’s putting an end to the wedding because Agatha’s husband—and the homeless man we see at the beginning—Jimmy Raisin (Jason Thorpe), is still alive. So she’s kinda still married; great timing on Bill’s part.

[Read Kerry Hammond's review of “The Murderous Marriage”...]

Fri
Sep 23 2016 3:30pm

“Drinking Up Daisies” Cocktails

It must be stressful to live in a town like Carsely in the Cotswolds, where there seems to be murder around every corner. I wouldn't judge Agatha Raisin one bit for needing to unwind every now and then with a nice cocktail or two.

So, relax with a variety of delicious cocktails for this week's Pick Your Poison—where we create a cocktail inspired by a recently published mystery, thriller, or crime novel—“Drinking Up Daisies,” an ice-cold sour made with your spirit of choice, inspired by M.C. Beaton's 27th Agatha Raisin Mystery, Pushing Up Daisies!

[Check out the recipe below!]

Wed
Sep 21 2016 11:00am

5 New Books to Read this Week: September 20, 2016

Every Wednesday, we here at Criminal Element will put together a list of Staff Picks of the books that published the day before—sharing the ones that we are looking forward to reading the most!

This week, Agatha Raisin is at it again and Harlan Coben gives us another gripping thriller! Check out what else the week has in store:
 

[See this week's Top 5...]

Mon
Sep 19 2016 12:00pm

Agatha Raisin 1.07: “Witch of Wyckhadden” Episode Review

This episode has a mysterious start, and—spoiler alert—it’s the best episode of the season so far. We start with Agatha Raisin (Ashley Jensen) in the back of a cab. She’s on the phone with Gemma, explaining that she’s not running away—she just has a family crisis. The taxi drives past a woman in a caravan who notices the car and proceeds to flip over a tarot card. 

When Agatha gets out of the cab at her destination, it’s a beautiful castle. Things get even more mysterious when we see she’s wearing a red wig. Lest you think she’s just changed her hair color, she adjusts the wig on her head, showing us she’s clearly in disguise.

There is a haunted house-type atmosphere as Agatha checks in with the creepy hotel manager Claude Martin (Peter De Jersey). She explains she’s there for a four-day visit and has booked a spa retreat. Creepy hotel manager explains that she has actually booked the S.P.A. retreat, which is the Special Paranormal Activity package. Agatha is not pleased. 

[Read Kerry Hammond's review of “The Witch of Wyckhaddon”...]

Thu
Sep 15 2016 12:30pm

Review: Pushing Up Daisies by M.C. Beaton

Pushing Up Daisies by M.C. Beaton is the 27th book in the Agatha Raisin series (Available September 20, 2016).

There's a newcomer in the town of Carsely in the Cotswolds, and he's a retired New Scotland Yard Detective. What’s a private detective supposed to do when she feels her territory is being threatened?

Agatha Raisin, private detective, resident in the Cotswold village of Carsely, should have been a contented and happy woman. Business at her agency was brisk. It was a rare fine English autumn. But the serpent of jealousy was hissing in her ear. Agatha had been jealous of women before but never in one hundred years had she expected to be jealous of her best friend, Mrs. Bloxby, the vicar’s wife.

There was a newcomer in the village, Gerald Devere, a retired New Scotland Yard detective and, of all people, Mrs. Bloxby appeared smitten. She had dyed her hair a rich brown and had taken to wearing attractive clothes instead of her usual old droopy ones.

[Read Kristen Houghton's review of Pushing Up Daisies...]

Mon
Sep 12 2016 11:00am

Agatha Raisin 1.06: “The Day the Floods Came” Episode Review

This episode is all about a bride, but don’t get too excited, the bride is not Agatha Raisin (Ashley Jensen). Agatha is, however, in attendance at the wedding. Not because she knows the bride or groom, but because she’s handling the PR for the wedding. So much for retirement. We see that Sir Charles Fraith (Jason Merrells) has decided to make his home, Barfield House, an event venue. Seems that our wealthy landowner might not be so wealthy after all and is looking to find a revenue stream.

The wedding is going great, if you don’t count the fact that the bride is in tears and in need of some comforting from our Aggie. She pulls it off, playing fast and loose with the truth of what was her own marriage. We see a little bit of regret for her youthful indiscretion and marriage at such a young age, but just a touch. Once Agatha calms the bride and the nuptials are complete, it’s the groom that looks uncomfortable. He looks more like he’s at a funeral than at his own wedding. 

[Read Kerry Hammond's review of “The Day the Floods Came”...]

Mon
Sep 5 2016 12:00pm

Agatha Raisin 1.05: “The Vicious Vet” Episode Review

Agatha Raisin (Ashley Jensen) is still having no luck on the relationship front. Things aren’t going anywhere with James Lacey (Jamie Glover), even though she had high hopes. We see her strut through the village in her signature high heels and impeccable wardrobe, with a huge smile on her face. She’s clearly on the prowl. But why, pray tell, is she dressed to the nines and carrying her cat, Hodge, in a cat carrier? 

Cut to James Lacey coming out of the pub to see that the village looks like a ghost town. When he inquires where everyone has gone, he’s told that there’s a new vet in town—and the pieces all fall into place.

[Read Kerry Hammond's review of “The Vicious Vet”...]

Mon
Aug 29 2016 1:00pm

Agatha Raisin 1.04: “The Potted Gardener” Episode Review

This week, the village of Carsley is plagued by joy riders. The episode opens with a yellow car tearing up the green late at night, blasting loud thumping music, red and orange flames painted down the side of the car. As if that’s not enough trouble in this quiet little Cotswolds village, the residents all wake up the next morning to find that their gardens have been vandalized. Some have uprooted trees, while others find dead fish in the koi pond or smashed pots in the greenhouse. Why is this significant? The Open Gardens Competition is coming up and everyone has been pruning and primping their entries.

Agatha Raisin's (Ashley Jensen) garden is the only one not vandalized, although it looks as if it has been. Apparently, she is going with a Zen theme. She reports that she is attempting to detox her life and be at one with nature—trying to get the qi flowing. Her aim is harmony and peace, but her blended veggie drinks appear to be nasty, and Roy Silver (Mathew Horne) is not having any.

[Read Kerry Hammond's review of “The Potted Gardener”...]

Mon
Aug 22 2016 1:30pm

Agatha Raisin 1.03: “The Wellspring of Death” Episode Review

“The Wellspring of Death” opens in the village of Ancombe, as we toggle back and forth between a young mother taking her child for a walk in a baby carriage and an Ancombe Water Company tanker truck careening through the village. Thankfully, the truck narrowly misses flattening both villager and her child, but we are immediately aware that the villagers have a slight problem with the new water company that is in town to tap their spring water and sell it on the open market.

By the way, and this might just be me, but who else thought that having a skull as the logo on the water bottle might be a bit of bad luck? Even if it is a cartoon version of the one on the spring, which has water flowing out of its mouth.

The big controversy is that the spring owner has already sold her water rights to Ancombe, but the Parish council is split on whether or not to grant access to allow the tanker trucks passage through the village. Robert Struthers (Tom Chadbon), the Chairman of the Parish Council, has the deciding vote on the issue. He says he will think about his decision overnight and let them know in the morning, which we all know is tantamount to signing his own death warrant.

[Sign on the dotted line...]

Mon
Aug 15 2016 11:00am

Agatha Raisin 1.02: “Hell’s Bells” Episode Review

Our normal, serene helicopter view of the village of Carsely in the Cotswolds, usually accompanied by pleasant background music, is not the opening for “Hell's Bells.” Instead, we arrive at the village to the soundtrack of really bad church bells and see everyone in the outdoor seating area of the pub wincing. One man even stuffs a twisted napkin into his ears to block out the noise.

Cut to the bell pullers, who are practicing their…let’s still call it a song, even though it resembles nothing remotely musical. All of our favorite villagers are there, including Agatha Raisin (Ashley Jensen) and Bill Wong (Matt McCooey). We find out they are preparing for the bishop’s visit and being coached by Amanda Barton (Sally Bretton). Amanda is new to the village, and the show, which as we know in the mystery game, does not bode well for the longevity of the character. When we also see that the vicar’s wife, Sarah Bloxby (Lucy Liemann), doesn’t like Amanda—and is clearly jealous of the time she spends with her husband—we really suspect that Amanda’s days in Carsely are numbered. After all, someone has to be sacrificed in order that Agatha has a murder to solve.

[Seems like a cruel equation...]

Mon
Aug 15 2016 10:00am

Cozy Bookshelf Shopping List: September, 2016

Discover (or remember to order) your next cozy with a delightfully convenient shopping list of upcoming soft-boiled mysteries! Last month, we did our best to beat the heat with August's releases; this month, send the kids back to school and catch up with some great reading! Let us know in the comments how you like it and what you can't wait to read next!

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Criminal Element's September 2016 Cozy Bookshelf Shopping List!

[Let's get to the goodies!]