Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Agatha Raisin: Series One

Agatha Raisin has appeared on the page in 27 books written by British author M.C. Beaton. The character was recently been turned into a television series and Kerry Hammond is here to recap the first season of the show.

I am a big fan of M.C. Beaton and have read every book in the Agatha Raisin mystery series. This year Sky 1 produced eight episodes (the Pilot was produced in 2014) of the Agatha Raisin television series, and they aired in the United States on Acorn TV—a subscription-based service that streams shows from “Britain and beyond.”

The show is wonderful and the adaptations from the books follow the plots quite well. Some of the character types were slightly changed (Agatha, played by Ashely Jensen, is a bit younger, thinner and blonder than the book version) but it still works. The shows are mysteries but have a lot of funny scenes, much like the books. My fingers are crossed that there is a season two.

The shows are best watched in order, and I condone binge watching them all in a row. Sleeping and showering are over-rated anyway. Some of the summaries below might contain spoilers for those who don’t want to know how the stories or relationships progress. But’s they’re no more telling than an IMDB summary, so read on if you want to find out about the episodes that appear in season one. A longer summary can be found for each on the Criminal Element website. Just click on the titles.

The Pilot introduces us to all of the recurring characters and explains Agatha’s retirement from the Public Relations world to live in the small village of Carsley in the Cotswolds, a lifelong dream of hers. In order to try and fit in, she enters a quiche in a village contest, but the judge ends up dying after eating it. Not a great way to fit in, but it gives her something to do—investigate the murder.

We meet Sir Charles Fraith, local landed gentry. Local ramblers want to cut across his land on their walks and one of them is found murdered in one of his fields. Agatha is sweet on her neighbor, James Lacey, but another woman in the village has caught his eye.

Episode Two: Hell’s Bell’s
The villagers are practicing their bell ringing to perform when the Bishop visits. One of the ringers, the one who is cozying up to the vicar, is found hanging from a bell cord. The vicar’s wife, Mrs. Bloxby, seems like a likely suspect, but then so does the vicar.

Episode Three: The Wellspring of Death
Agatha’s PR days are over but she agrees to take on a job for a local spring water company who wants to bottle the water—she even gets all cozy with the company owner. The villagers don’t like the idea because the tanker trucks are driving through the village and causing a menace. The man who holds the final vote on whether or not the water company will be allowed to proceed is found murdered, a PR nightmare.

Episode Four: The Potted Gardener
A garden contest is near and someone is vandalizing the village gardens of the contestants, all but Agatha’s that is. It’s more than just vandalism when a body is found, planted head first, in one of the gardens.

Episode Five: The Vicious Vet
There’s a new vet in town and he’s supposedly gorgeous. Suddenly all of the female pet owners are worried about their pets and feel the need to take them in for an exam. Agatha brings her cat in and meets the new vet, who promptly asks her to dinner. The next day he’s found dead in a horse stall at a local stable. The police suspect foul play.

Sir Chares Fraith is using his home’s beautiful grounds to host weddings and Agatha has helped in the preparations. She attends the wedding and comes across the bride, crying. She talks her out of her funk and the reception continues as planned. The next morning the bride is found floating in the river, still wearing her wedding dress.

Episode Seven: The Witch of Wyckhadden
After a bad hair experience, Agatha flees the village and checks into a castle hotel for what she thinks is a spa weekend. She has actually booked herself into a paranormal weekend and the other guests at the hotel are all quite odd. She visits the local witch for some hair tonic and the next night the woman is found dead in her caravan. Agatha’s photo lands in the local paper and her gang of friends show up at the hotel to help her solve the case.

Episode Eight: The Murderous Marriage
It’s wedding bells for Agatha and James Lacey, but they quickly stop ringing when Agatha’s ex-husband Jimmy Raisin shows up to crash the party. James Lacey backs away and Agatha is left to deal not only with Jimmy but with the fact that she is homeless—having sold her cottage to move in with James. Jimmy Raisin ends up dead and Agatha is the last person to have argued with him.

As previously stated, the cast is excellent. Gemma is Agatha’s cleaning lady and friend, she adds quite a funny sidekick element to the stories. Bill Wong, the policeman who befriends and has a crush on Agatha is also pretty funny. Roy Silver, Agatha’s previous employee at her PR firm who lives in London but comes down most weekends, helps with the investigation by researching the suspects and doing lots of legwork.

I hope you enjoy this show as much as I did. Feel free to post your comment here.


  1. I really enjoyed watching this series, and am hoping for a season two. I do have some issues with some of the characters, Sir Charles Fraith in particular, as he would never be called "Charlie" in the books, and is described as a bit more classy than the actor who portrays him in the series. Other than that, despite her looking not at all like Agatha in the books, I quite enjoy Ashley Jensen's portrayal.

  2. I have read all the books too and had no idea this was available. Off to check the library website now!