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4.1 out of 5 stars
A Spoonful of Poison (Agatha Raisin Mysteries, No 19)
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on November 2, 2008
The irascible Agatha Raisin returns in her nineteenth adventure, as feisty, headstrong, and obnoxious as the day readers first fell in love with her. The outspoken sleuth is ready to tell the vicar of St. Odo the Severe she'll have nothing to do with helping him organize his church fete until she discovers handsome George Selby is also a volunteer. Man-hungry as ever, Agatha plunges headlong into making the small village fete the talk of the country and manages to bring murder and mayhem into the village.

When someone puts LSD into the jam, lots of the young people are happily stoned, but two of the village's elder citizens hallucinate themselves into death and Agatha's detective agency must solve the case in order to save its reputation. More murders plus one from the past will all be solved in the typical Raisin style followers of the series have come to love.

Old favorites like Sir Charles Fraith, Roy Silver, Mrs. Bloxby, and Bill Wong are all here as well as more recent additions like the lovely young Toni Gilmour and sometimes-employee Harry Beam. If you've been following the madcap adventures of Agatha and crew, you won't want to miss this latest installment. The return of James Lacey and Agatha's new hair extensions will have you howling and eagerly anticipating the meaning of Agatha's wave of fear and sense that something is terribly wrong with James.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
I ALWAYS enjoy Agatha Raisin and her antics with the men in her life and this book was no disappointment.
I'm so glad I stumbled onto it.
I usually read the front flap of a book before I buy it, but not Agatha Raisin.
When I see a new one I snatch it up IMMEDIATELY.
Looking forward to the next one.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2008
As usual, MC Beaton has written another wonderful installment in the Agatha Raisin series. Unfortunately, "A Spoonful of Poison" was over in the blink of an eye and I'm sitting here feeling more than a bit disgruntled. The storyline has Agatha going to the small town of Comfrey Magma to help promote a country fete at St. Odo's. Of course disaster follows and along with that, the retention of Agatha's services to find out who committed the latest dastardly deed. Predictable fluff? Yup, but I love it just the same and highly recommend it too.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 20, 2009
This has to be the worst of the Agatha books, which I usually love, and read very quickly. This one, though, made me stop, look at the title page to make sure it was actually written by M.C. Beaton. It seemed to me that this was could have been written by someone else, using the basic "formula" for Agatha. It just kind of sleep-walks through the normal worst-of-Agatha stuff. And what about Sir Charles? He's just left to fend for himself, then just fades away I hope the next one gets back to the Agatha I can actually recognize.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 15, 2008
M.C. Beaton aka Marion Chesney has done a wonderful job as usual involving her readers with Agatha Raisin's latest exploits. I laughed, then laughed some more as Agatha got into one jam after another. Murder, innuendo, wishful thinking, purring cats and good friends color Ms. Raisins world and paints a lucious picture for all of us.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 25, 2008
Why on earth would Agatha Raisin agree at the last minute to handle publicity for an obscure village church fete? She's already busy - operating a detective agency after retiring to the Cotswolds with loads of money from her successful London PR career. Aggie's never heard of Saint Odo the Severe or visited its unattractive village of Comfrey Magna, although it's not far from her home in lovely Carsley.

Agatha answers St. Odo's call because of a man, of course: an attractive and suave recent widower of a certain age who sets Agatha's heart aflutter. He's a St. Odo's parishioner who's been helping with the fete.

But also of course, the combination of Agatha Raisin and a village fete is lethal. Somebody slips LSD into the goods at the jam-tasting booth and although a lot of young folks just get happily stoned, two older people are sent on fatal trips by the stuff. The police investigate of course, but so do Agatha and her employees, including young Toni. There's nothing much new about the main story; we've seen this before in this series.

But because Beaton is such a good writer, there were enough fresh bits here that this was a fast and funny read. I enjoyed the story for the character development more than for the mystery, having figured out whodunit very early on.

Agatha's still driven by her old insecurities although she's gained a bit of self-awareness in recent years. She's a prickly mentor to young Toni, who is smart and hardworking and like Agatha escaped a bad family of origin. Toni ends up in the middle of the action here as often as her boss, with perhaps predictable results.

We see most of the series regulars here, including kind and patient Mrs. Bloxby, the erratic Sir Charles Fraith, and Agatha's maddening handsome ex-husband James Lacey. Is Agatha really over James, now that he's gotten engaged to a new love?

I don't think this book is anywhere near the best in the series, and it may not be the best introduction for someone new to the Agatha Raisin series. But I enjoyed it for Beaton's clear-eyed sardonic storytelling, and for the brief visit with Agatha and the people in her world. I don't think it's a spoiler to say that the end of the book foreshadows - well, actually it announces - serious trouble in store for one of the series' recurring characters. Which caused me to regret that Beaton apparently decided to save that plot line for the next book instead of mixing it into this one.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon May 11, 2009
I'm a very long time fan of M.C. Beaton and have enjoyed her two very successful series of stories! The Hamish Macbeth books and of course these Agatha Raisin books! I've read them all, but have to say that I think it's time for Agatha to start learning some lessons from her past mistakes.

In A SPOONFUL OF POISON, spunky Agatha Raisin is asked to take over the public relations job for a church fete that's to take place in a neighboring village. It's not goodwill on her part to help out! It's the fact that a handsome widower is also involved. As usual, she throws herself into the job and in her very aggressive way, she obtains a popular singer as an attraction for the fete. When things go wrong and two people die from samples they had eaten from the jam-tasting booth, Agatha is blamed because people think bringing in the young singer, also brought in some drug using teenagers who poisoned the jams.

Of course, Agatha's detective agency is hired to help solve the murders, and her young and pretty detective, Toni, is given more press than Agatha, which brings out jealousy and spite in Ms. Raisin. As always, there's a lot of twists in the story and many interesting characters. I really enjoy these books, but I do want Agatha to grow a little kinder and wiser! After 18 books, the author needs to add "a spoonful of sugar" to Agatha's character!
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on November 8, 2008
Some novelists and series one likes simply because of innovative narrative, haunting characters, and the beautiful usage of the English language. Then there are novelists and series one reads simply out of habit; MC Beaton and her Agatha Raisin novels fall into the latter category. Approximately 18 novels into the series, and Agatha is firmly a one-note character starring in a one-note series. Perhaps author Beaton has sensed this because the past five Raisin novels or so have featured dabblings into the darker psychological thriller genre, but with decidedly tepid results.

It may be noted this review does not touch upon the narrative of "A Spoon ful of Poison." Suffice it to say, there was a spoonful narrative, spoonful of plot and a spoonful of characterization. Our dear Agatha needs a new and improved recipe -- quick!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 25, 2009
This is the 19th in the AGATHA RAISIN series of cozy mysteries. Agatha had owned a successful Public Relations agency in London but had decided to sell the company, and retire to a small village in the Cotswolds. She had quickly found that she really didn't have a talent for village life but that she did have one for solving crimes.

A nearby parish vicar sought help from Agatha Raisin to promote their local parish fete. He was concerned that the event would (once again) be a rather boring event that raised very little money. Unfortunately for the vicar Agatha was not feeling in a very giving mood at the moment, her private detective agency was thriving but if Agatha never again tracked down a missing pet or followed another wandering spouse it would be fine with her. She had decided to close the agency on weekends because she did not have any free time to do anything but then she discovered that she had nothing to do with her free time. When her former husband, long time obsession and next door neighbor James Lackey announced his engagement Agatha was definitely not in the mood to provide public relations services for some little parish she had never heard of before. As she went to tell the vicar just that something changed her mind, a tall, good looking man with the most amazing green eyes who was also working on the fete organizing committee, well Agatha suddenly had several wonderful ideas for the event. She managed to make the event an amazing success drawing a huge crowd and raising lots of money. All was going well until two local women were drugged and died. Once again Agatha found herself and her loyal friends and employees on a search to find answers to various little and not so little problems.

The appeal in this series is not the mysteries, often the reader will be a step or two ahead of Agatha in figuring out who, how and why, but instead it is the charm of life in the sleepy little village, and the comic situations that Agatha gets into as she searches for clues and romance. The overall story arc of this series is quite pronounced so for maximum enjoyment they should be read in order as much as possible.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A Spoonful of Poison is very much a formula book where Agatha does all of the things that she does when she's out of control. Naturally, that gets her into trouble . . . and thus there's potential for humor. But the book doesn't work as well as in the past because it's all too predictable and Agatha doesn't grow as a character. If anything, she regresses in selfish ways. As a result, she's usually at her least appealing in this book.

Unless you feel like you need to read every word that M.C. Beaton ever writes about Agatha Raisin, this is one book that you could skip.

Interestingly, if you haven't read an Agatha Raisin book before, you'll probably like this book better than if you have read them all. It will probably be a four-star book for you filled with enough cozy humor to be broadly appealing. The stories, jokes, and punch lines will seem fresher.

So what's it all about?

Agatha finds one of the organizers of a church fete, George Selby, to be physically attractive. Naturally, she volunteers to do the publicity so she can spend time with him. But he doesn't seem all that interested. That doesn't slow down our Agatha.

At the fete, something terrible happens and Agatha feels compelled to use her private investigation agency to get to the bottom of things. In the process, she finds that there are some skeletons in the local closets. In sorting out those skeletons, she managers to annoy Toni, her protégé . . . leading to complications that Agatha hasn't anticipated.

The book goes through quite a few mysterious events and almost seems like a series of connected short stories rather than one novel. As a result, there's plenty of value for those who like to see lots of Agatha in different postures.

Will she end up with a man . . . or a broken heart?
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