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Thursday, February 9, 2017

#Audiobook #Review: 3 out of 5 stars for The Blood of an Englishman by M.C. Beaton @mc_beaton @BlackstoneAudio

SERIES: Agatha Raisin, Book #25
AUTHOR: M.C. Beaton
NARRATOR: Alison Larkin
PUBLISHER: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
PUBLICATION DATE: September 16, 2014
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook
LENGTH: 6 hrs and 50 mins 
GENRE: Mystery/Cozy Mystery
In this irresistible new mystery from New York Times best seller M. C. Beaton, the adorably cranky Agatha Raisin investigates when a local baker is murdered while performing in a seemingly harmless pantomime.

"Fee, fie, fo, fum. I smell the blood of an Englishman…"

Even though Agatha Raisin loathes amateur dramatics, her friend Mrs. Bloxby, the vicar's wife, has persuaded her to support the local pantomime. Stifling a yawn at the production of Babes in the Woods, Agatha watches as the baker, playing an ogre, struts and threatens on the stage. Then a trapdoor opens…followed by a scream and then silence.

Surely, this isn't the way the scene was rehearsed? When it turns out the popular baker has been murdered, Agatha puts her team of private detectives on the case. They soon discover more feuds and temperamental behavior in amateur theatrics than in a professional stage show - and face more and more danger as the team gets too close to the killer.

Agatha Raisin is normally like comfort food for me: Always a pleasure and something to look forward to. However, this time was different. It could possibly be due to the change of narrator, which is a factor, but this 25th installment didn’t hold my interest as much as earlier books.

This mystery takes us back to Winter Parva, the setting for As the Pig Turns. Agatha is watching a play with Mrs. Bloxby, but the action takes place after the show as Agatha is driving back to Carsely. She sees police cars speeding past her, and she decides to turn around to see what is going on. It turns out the local baker, Bert Simple, was murdered in a most gruesome manner: As he was exiting the stage by elevator, a steel spike impaled him between the legs from below through a hole that had been cut out of the floor.

Worried about the bad press and wanting to clear his name, the play’s producer Gareth Craven hires Agatha to investigate. The list of suspects grows as she uncovers the village’s many secrets. Sir Charles Fraith and Roy Silver both make an appearance, and so does James Lacey! All my favourites were present, so what went wrong for me? Well, I did enjoy the story well enough but not as much as I usually do. It felt almost as though there were TOO many characters in this one. I had trouble keeping track of them all! Agatha’s hormones had her panting after more than one man, and I get that she is lonely but wish that she had a bit more self-respect and wasn’t prepared to jump into bed with just any man she fancies! The story ends with a new face that has joined the Cotswolds, who appears to have made a good impression on James Lacey, and very interesting foreshadowing for the next book! Yes, I am intrigued and will continue on in the series.

Why, oh why, is there another change in narrator? I was HUGELY disappointed when I downloaded the audiobook and saw that it was not narrated by Penelope Keith. It’s very hard for me to accept anyone other than Ms. Keith as the voice for Agatha Raisin! Now, having said that, Alison Larkin’s voice is closer to Ms. Keith’s interpretation of Agatha than Davina Porter. Alison Larkin is new-to-me, and she did do a fine job. I really cannot say anything negative about Ms. Larkin because she was enjoyable but considering that I have now listened to 25 audiobooks in this series, no one will ever measure up to the series’ original narrator! Here is a sample of the narration:

3 stars!! I enjoyed it.

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