She’s curt. She’s sleuthy. She’s Agatha Raisin! Created by prolific cozy mystery writer MC Beaton, Mrs. Raisin, a retired public relations agent (who, ironically, has no people skills whatsoever), has been solving murder mysteries in the Cotswolds since 1992. Like all of Beaton’s detectives, Raisin is decidedly unorthodox and can’t sustain a romantic relationship to save her life. But these things often work to her advantage. Many of Agatha’s best cases revolve around her array of exes (or soon-to-be exes). And her unique way of operating—plus her ever-evolving circle of friends and acquaintances—have helped her nab over thirty dastardly criminals.
Agatha Raisin’s popularity has enabled her to make the jump to both radio and television. And yet, there’s nothing quite like curling up with cozy mysteries in book form. The five books highlighted here are among the best that the series has to offer, starting with the highest rated on Goodreads. No matter which one you pick, these witty, suspenseful adventures will keep you guessing from the first page to the last.
When Agatha finds out her former partner is about to get married, she does the only sensible thing: investigate the bride to within an inch of her life and then crash the wedding. It seemed like a good idea at the time. But now, with the bride dead and Agatha on the police's suspect list, our heroine must enter the dangerous world of elite equestrianism to clear her name and find the real killer. Published in November 2020 and cowritten by R.W. Green, Hot to Trot is the most recent—and, with M.C. Beaton's 2019 death, possibly the last—Agatha Raisin mystery thriller.
Agatha is used to dealing with death, but severed legs? That's something else again. She found this particular leg just outside of Morrison's, a company that has recently developed a new kind of electric car battery. Is that the motive behind the murder, or is there something else afoot? Will Agatha's prickly assistant help or hinder the investigation, or even get Agatha thrown in jail? Most important of all, can Agatha finally make it work with the stingy yet strangely irresistible Sir Charles Fraith? There's only one way to find out, and that's by jumping right into the bushes with Agatha.
The Deadly Dance, the fifteenth book in the series, finds Agatha turning her amateur sleuthing hobby into a career: Raisin Investigations is officially open for business! But it's not quite what Agatha envisioned. Opening the business cost a fortune, and so far, "real" detective work is quite boring. The only cases coming her way involve lost cats and delinquent teenagers. Then, finally, she gets a shot at an exciting case involving an heiress and death threats. Can Agatha handle the pressure? Or will she end up longing for the early days when the only thing threatening to kill her was boredom?
Agatha's first marriage ended with her drunken husband wandering off and, she assumes, dying. Now, she's about to tie the knot again, with a man who has no idea that she was married before. Just as everything comes together, a vengeful ex-coworker presents Agatha with the worst possible wedding gift: her first husband, returned from the ranks of the presumed dead. Obviously, this is more than enough to ruin her big day. Just as obviously, Agatha is upset—but upset enough to strangle Mr. Raisin? The police sure seem to think so! Agatha must take up the case to clear both herself and her betrothed of wrongdoing.
Agatha finally marries her neighbor, James Lacey, in Agatha Raisin and the Love from Hell, the eleventh book in the series. Unsurprisingly, given their clashing personalities, it doesn't last long: after a loud (and public) fight, her new husband disappears off the face of the earth (or at least the Cotswolds). Worse, a woman that Agatha's husband was allegedly sleeping with was just murdered. Despite finding herself at the top of the suspect list, Agatha launches her own investigation, determined to find a connection between the two crimes and root out the real criminal.
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Eileen Gonzalez is a freelance writer from Connecticut. She has a Master’s degree in communications and years of experience writing about pop culture. She contributes to Book Riot and Foreword Reviews, and she occasionally tweets at @eileen2thestars.