Agatha Raisin (Ashley Jensen), former Public Relations Executive turned retiree at a very young age, has taken to her new home in the village of Carsley in the Cotswolds. It took the villagers a bit longer to take to her, which can happen when one is accused of poisoning one of the village’s most prominent citizens (Pilot episode: “The Quiche of Death”). Cleared of all charges and suspicion, Agatha even managed to come out on top—a skill at which she seems to excel.
As a bit of background, Raisin is the long-running character in a series of novels by M.C. Beaton. The books, which would best be classified as amateur sleuth or cozy mysteries, contain quite an element of comedy and a large supporting cast of quirky Cotswold characters.
All is forgiven, and Agatha walks through town with a purpose, saying hello to all the villagers she passes. They seem happy to see her and return her greeting. We quickly realize that she is still seeking approval when she informs her housekeeper Mrs. Simpson (Katy Wix) that she is going rambling, admitting it’s because she just wants to blend in. Considering that she is always dressed like she’s going to a London party, we know this is highly unlikely.
I half expected Agatha to try and wear a pair of heels on her ramble, but she has actually traded in her pumps for a pair of hiking boots. She’s also armed herself with a new bright pink jacket, what looks to be an extremely heavy backpack, trekking poles, whistle, water bottle, around-the-neck map holder, and bright pink pants. Yes, once again, Agatha has taken a simple event and gone over the top. Everyone else is dressed in jeans and carrying a very small pack.
On the walk is James Lacy (Jamie Glover), Aggie’s crush and the man she will go to any effort to get close to. He is clearly more interested in Mary the Widow and ignores Aggie and her advances—more on this later.
Enter Sir Charles Fraith (Jason Merrells), flirty landowner and man about town. Agatha has helped him plan the charity film night on the grounds of his home, Barfield House. He’s willing to open his lawn to the film event, but he refuses to let the ramblers walk his fields and has had words with the most vocal of them, a woman named Jessica.
The film they’re watching is Ladykillers—foreshadowing anyone? The next morning, Jessica is found murdered in Sir Charles’s field. The fact that he was reportedly seen running from the area right before the body was found does not bode well for him.
So begins the investigation—the comical one performed by DC Bill Wong (Matt Mcooey) and DCI Wilkes (Jason Barnett), and the one involving Agatha and her vision board of suspects. Since, this time, Agatha hasn’t been accused of a crime, she needs another reason to be drawn into the investigation. This reason is kindly provided by Mrs. Bloxby (Lucy Liemann), the vicar’s wife. She and a young girl who has caught the eye of the dashing Sir Charles implore Agatha to help clear his name.
At the suggestion of Mrs. Simpson, James agrees to go undercover in Dembley as Agatha’s husband, in order to befriend the dead woman’s rambler friends and suss out the killer. There is no shortage of suspects in this group. The boyfriend of the victim is a disgraced ex-employee of the High School, who was forced to resign after a disciplinary hearing. There also appears to have been a love triangle between the deceased and two female ramblers who are in a relationship with each other.
We toggle back and forth between Agatha’s investigation and the one the police are conducting. Wong, the inferior officer is slightly more intelligent than Wilkes, his superior. Wilkes is quick to judgment and always taking someone in for questioning in the back of the police car. Wilkes just loves that they get to investigate murders, and the two are often found providing slapstick humor. Once such example happens on their stakeout (which is clearly their first ever). It is obvious that they’ve watched one too many cop shows depicting officers on stakeouts eating fast food. Their car’s dashboard is littered with food wrappers, and to carry the police cliché to the next level, Wilkes appears to be eating a donut.
When their subject is on the move, Wong throws the car into gear and it lurches forward. When their suspect leaves the pub and proceeds to walk to the tea room, which is literally next door to the pub, Wong reverses the three feet they just drove and they go back to their stakeout.
Side characters abound, Mrs. Simpson provides a friendly sidekick-type character. Roy, Agatha’s former co-worker at her PR firm in London, also helps her investigate. He’s the research guru and is usually found searching into a suspect’s past, trying to find the dirt. When he visits, he brings with him the boyfriend of the week. This time, it’s a naked yoga instructor named Khusan.
Another bit of foreshadowing happens between Agatha and James. They fight when Agatha gets possessive and takes their fake marriage for more than it is, but he then saves her from a speeding car and looks so lovingly at her when she wakes up. So begins the cat-and-mouse game between the two—a kind of “will they or won’t they” that will no doubt continue throughout the series.
Kerry Hammond loves all types of mysteries. She is a Book Reviewer and Blogger for Mystery Playground. Follow her on Twitter @kerryhammond88.