Thursday, July 09, 2015

M. C. Beaton. The Potted Gardener. (1994)

     M. C. Beaton. The Potted Gardener. (1994) Agatha Raisin returns from an extended, but lonely, holiday, to find the glamourous divorcee Mary Fortune ensconced as the most popular incomer to the Village of Carsley. She’s also James Lacey’s friend (later, she’s revealed as his paramour), which turns Agatha against her. Mary has an unfortunate habit of saying cruel things to people, and gazing at them with a look that screams superiority. James and Agatha discover her body in the conservatory, upside down with her head buried in a large pot. They of course embark on s pot of sleuthing. The perp suicides when he’s unmasked, handy, because there’s precious little evidence of the kind that would convince a judge or jury.
     The writing is low-average, much of it is tell rather than show, and too often Beaton informs the reader of some character's reaction that the reader has already sussed. Still, I engaged with the characters enough to keep reading, perhaps because Agatha is a 50ish, plumpish woman with romantic yearnings. James is a bit of a stick, afraid of his own emotions, and after his “competent” affair with Mary, ashamed of his lust, uncertain whether his feelings are honourable enough to justify a closer relationship with Agatha.
     But those remarks are already at the level of interpreting the characters for the purposes of scripting a TV series. The novel is not nearly as complex as they imply, more’s the pity. **

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