The Potted Gardener (Agatha Raisin Series #3) [NOOK Book]

Overview


Never say die. That's the philosophy Agatha Raisin clings to when she comes home to cozy Carsely and finds a new woman ensconced in the affections of her attractive bachelor neighbor, James Lacey. The beautiful newcomer, Mary Fortune, is superior in every way, especially when it comes to gardening. And Agatha, that rose with many thorns, hasn't a green thumb to her name. With garden Open Day approaching, she longs for a nice juicy murder to remind James of her genius for investigation. And sure enough, a series ...
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The Potted Gardener (Agatha Raisin Series #3)

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Overview


Never say die. That's the philosophy Agatha Raisin clings to when she comes home to cozy Carsely and finds a new woman ensconced in the affections of her attractive bachelor neighbor, James Lacey. The beautiful newcomer, Mary Fortune, is superior in every way, especially when it comes to gardening. And Agatha, that rose with many thorns, hasn't a green thumb to her name. With garden Open Day approaching, she longs for a nice juicy murder to remind James of her genius for investigation. And sure enough, a series of destructive assaults on the finest gardens is followed by an appalling murder. Agatha seizes the moment and immediately starts yanking up village secrets by their roots and digging up all the dirt on the victim. Problem is, Agatha has an awkward secret of her own . . . .

The creator of the popular Hamish Macbeth series continues her series about a sleuth in a small English town--irascible but endearing Agatha Raisin. What could make Agatha more attractive to her bachelor neighbor than a new murder to solve? Martin's Press.

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Editorial Reviews

Emily Melton
That intrepid British sleuth-by-default Agatha Raisin returns in a third adventure that's even more cozy, charming, and witty than her previous two. With a name like Agatha Raisin and a tendency toward pugnacious pudginess, Agatha may not seem a likely sort of detective, but when a crime is committed in her adopted village of Carseley, she's first on the scene. Mary Fortune, an attractive divorcée newly arrived in Carseley, has raised local eyebrows with her on-again, off-again friendliness, nasty remarks, sharp tongue, and--worst of all--her very public affair with the love of Agatha's life, James Lacey. When several local gardens are destroyed, the villagers believe Mary is involved--until she's found murdered in a particularly nasty manner. The local coppers move too slowly for Agatha's taste, so she dons her detective hat and, through a combination of tenaciousness and curiosity, discovers the identity of the killer. Beaton captures perfectly the tenor of life in a quiet, quaint English village; the Miss Marple-like Raisin is a refreshingly sensible, wonderfully eccentric, thoroughly likable heroine; and the latest Raisin escapade is lively, funny, and entertaining. A must for cozy fans.
From the Publisher
“Agatha Raisin is an absolute gem!”—Publishers Weekly

"From the author’s sure-fire plot comes this fail-safe moral: It takes an outsider to open people’s eyes to the beauty—and the evil—within.”—The New York Times Book Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781429988353
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 7/15/1994
  • Series: Agatha Raisin Series , #3
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 25,050
  • File size: 411 KB

Meet the Author


M. C. Beaton has been hailed as “the new Queen of Crime.” She is The New York Times bestselling author of the Agatha Raisin mysteries, including As the Pig Turns and Busy Body, set in the English Cotswolds, as well as the Hamish Macbeth mysteries set in Scotland. She has also written historical romance novels and an Edwardian mystery series under the name Marion Chesney. Before writing her first novels, Beaton worked as a bookseller, a newspaper reporter, a fashion critic, and a waitress in a greasy spoon. Born in Scotland, she currently divides her time between Paris and a village in the Cotswolds. She was selected the British Guest of Honor for the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention in 2006.

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Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

A mild, damp winter was edging towards spring when Agatha Raisin motored slowly homeward to the village of Carsely after a long holiday. She persuaded herself that she had had a wonderful time far away from this grave of a village. She had gone to New York, then to Bermuda, then to Montreal, and then straight to Paris, and so on to Italy, Greece, and Turkey. Although she was a wealthy woman, she was not used to spending all that amount of money on herself and felt obscurely guilty. Before, she had nearly always gone on the more expensive arranged package holidays where she was with a group. This time she had been on her own. Carsely had given her the confidence, or so she had thought , to make friends, but she seemed to have spent a blur of weeks either in hotel rooms or in dogged solitary forays around the tourist sights.

But she would not admit she had had a lonely time any more than she would admit her prolonged absence had anything to do with her neighbour, James Lacey.

At the end of what she fondly thought of as "my last case," she had drunk too much in the local pub with one of the women from the village and on returning home had made a rude gesture to James, who had been standing outside his cottage.

Sober and remorseful the next day, she had humbly apologized to this attractive bachelor neighbour and the apology had been quietly accepted. But the friendship had sunk to a tepid acquaintanceship. He talked to her briefly if he met her in the pub or in the village shop, but he no longer came round for coffee, and if he was working in his front garden and saw her coming along the lane, he dived indoors. So Agatha had taken her sore heart abroad. Somehow, away from the gentle influence of Carsely, her old character had reasserted itself, that is, prickly, aggressive, and judgemental. Her cats were in a basket on the back seat. She had stopped at the cattery to pick them up on the road home. Although still married, although she had not seen her husband for years, did not want to, and had practically forgotten his existence, she felt exactly like the spinster of the village, cats and all.

The village of Carsely lay quietly in the watery sunlight. Smoke rose from chimneys. She turned the car along the straggling main street, which was practically all there was of Carsely, except for a few lanes winding off it and a council estate on the outskirts, and turned sharply into Lilac Lane, where her thatched cottage stood. James Lacey lived next door. Smoke was rising from his chimney. Her heart lifted. How she longed to stop the car at his door and cry out, "I’m home," but she knew he would come out on the step and survey her gravely and say something polite like "Good to have you back," and then he would retreat indoors.

Carrying her cats, Boswell and Hodge, in their basket, she let herself into her cottage. It smelt strongly of cleaning fluid and disinfectant, her dedicated cleaning woman, Doris Simpson, having had free run of the place while Agatha had been away. She fed the cats and let them out, carried her suitcases out of the car and put her clothes in the laundry basket, and then took out a series of small parcels, presents for the ladies of Carsely.

She had bought the vicar’s wife, Mrs. Bloxby, a very pretty silk scarf from Istanbul. Longing for some human company, Agatha decided to walk along to the vicarage and give it to her.

The sun had gone down and the vicarage looked dark and quiet. Agatha suddenly felt a pang of apprehension. Despite her hard thoughts about Carsely, she could not imagine the village without the gentle vicar’s wife. What if the vicar had been transferred to another parish while she, Agatha, had been away?

Agatha was a stocky middle-aged woman with a round, rather pugnacious face, and small, bearlike eyes. Her hair, brown and healthy, was cut in a short square style, established in the hey-day of Mary Quant and not much changed since. Her legs were good and her clothes expensive, and no one, seeing her standing hopefully on the vicarage doorstep, could realize the timid longing for a friendly face that lay underneath the laminated layers of protection from the world which Agatha had built up over the years.

She knocked at the door and with a glad feeling heard the sound of approaching footsteps from within. The door opened and Mrs. Bloxby stood smiling at Agatha. The vicar’s wife was a gentle-faced woman. Her brown hair, worn in an old-fashioned knot at the nape of her neck, was brown streaked with grey.

"Come in, Mrs. Raisin," she said with that special smile of hers that illumined her whole face. "I was just about to have tea."

Having temporarily forgotten what it was to be liked, Agatha thrust the wrapped parcel at her and said gruffly, "This is for you."

"Why, how kind! But come in." The vicar’s wife led the way into the sitting-room and switched on a couple of lamps. With a feeling of coming home, Agatha sank down in the feather cushions of the sofa while Mrs. Bloxby threw a log on the smouldering fire and stirred it into a blaze with the poker.

Mrs. Bloxby unwrapped the parcel and exclaimed in delight at the silk scarf, shimmering with gold and red and blue. "How exotic," said Mrs. Bloxby. "I shall wear it at church on Sunday and be the envy of the parish. Tea and scones, I think." She went out. Agatha could hear her voice calling to the vicar, "Darling, Mrs. Raisin’s back." Agatha heard a mumbled reply.

After about ten minutes, Mrs. Bloxby returned with a tray of tea and scones. "Alf can’t join us. He’s working on a sermon."

Agatha reflected sourly that the vicar always managed to be busy on something when she called.

"So," said Mrs. Bloxby, "tell me about your travels." Agatha bragged about the places she had been, conjuring up, she hoped, the picture of a sophisticated world traveller. And then, waving a buttered scone, she said grandly, "I don’t suppose much has been going on here."

"Oh, we have our little excitements," said the vicar’s wife. "We have a newcomer, a real asset to the village, Mrs. Mary Fortune. She bought poor Mrs. Josephs’s house and has made vast improvements to it. She is a great gardener."

"Mrs. Josephs didn’t have much of a garden," said Agatha.

"There’s quite a bit of space at the front, and Mrs. Fortune has already landscaped it and she has had a conservatory built at the back of the house on to the kitchen. She grows tropical plants there. She is also a superb baker. I fear her scones put mine to shame."

"And what does Mr. Fortune do?"

"There isn’t a Mr. Fortune. She is divorced."

"How old?"

"It is hard to say. She is a remarkably good-looking lady and a great help at our horticultural society meetings. She and Mr. Lacey are both such keen gardeners."

Agatha’s heart sank. She had nursed a hope that James might have missed her. But now it seemed he was being well entertained by some attractive divorcée with a passion for gardening.

Mrs. Bloxby’s gentle voice went on with other news of the parish, but Agatha’s mind was too busy now to take in much of what she was saying. Agatha’s interest in James Lacey was as much competitive as it was romantic. Since she had a great deal of common sense, she might even have accepted the fact that James Lacey was not interested in her at all, but the very mention of this newcomer roused all her battling instincts.

The vicar’s voice sounded from the back of the house. "Are we going to get any dinner to night?"

"Soon," shouted Mrs. Bloxby. "Would you care to join us, Mrs. Raisin?"

"I didn’t realize it was so late." Agatha got to her feet. "No, but thank you all the same."

Agatha walked back to her cottage and let the cats in from the back garden. She could not see much of the garden because night had fallen. She had put in a few bushes and flowers last year, Agatha being an "instant" gardener—that is, someone who buys plants ready grown from the nursery. In order to get in on the act, she would need to become a real gardener. Real gardeners had green houses and grew their plants from seed. Also, she had better join this horticultural society.

With a view to finding out about the opposition, Agatha drove down to Moreton-in-Marsh the following day and bought a cake at the bakery and then drove back to Carsely and made her way to the newcomer’s home, which was in a pretty undistinguished terrace of Victorian cottages at the top of the village. As she opened the garden gate, she remembered with a pang of unease the last time she had pushed open this gate and entered the house to find Mrs. Josephs, the librarian, had been murdered. An extension had been built to the front of the house, a sort of porch made mostly of glass and filled with plants and flowers and wicker furniture.

Holding the cake, Agatha rang the bell. The woman who answered the door made Agatha’s heart sink. She was undoubtedly attractive, with a smooth, unlined face and blonde hair and bright blue eyes.

"I am Agatha Raisin. I live in Lilac Lane, next to Mr. Lacey. I have just returned from holiday and learned of your arrival in the village, and so I brought you this cake."

"How very nice of you," beamed Mary Fortune. "Come in. Of course I have heard of you. You are our Miss Marple." There was something in the way she said it and the appraising look she gave that made Agatha think she was being compared to the famous fictional character not because of that character’s detective abilities but more because of her age.

Mary led the way into a charming sitting-room. Bookshelves lined the walls. Pot plants glowed green with health and a brisk log fire was burning. There was a homely smell of baking. Agatha could almost imagine James relaxing here, his long legs stretched out in front of him. "I’ll just take a note of your phone number," said Agatha, opening her capacious handbag and taking out a notebook, pen, and her glasses. She was not interested in getting Mary’s phone number, only an excuse to put on her glasses and see if the newcomer’s face was as unwrinkled as it appeared to be.

Mary gave her number and Agatha looked up and peered at her through her glasses. Well, well, well, thought Agatha. Thunderbirds, go! That was a facelift if ever there was one. There was something in the plastic stretchiness of the skin. The hair was dyed, but by the hand of an expert, so that it was streaked blonde rather than being a uniform bleach job.

"I have heard you are a member of the horticultural society," said Agatha, taking off her glasses and tucking them away in their case.

"Yes, and I pride myself on doing my bit for the village. Mr. Lacey is a great help. You know Mr. Lacey, of course. He’s your neighbour."

"Oh, we’re great friends," said Agatha.

"Really? But we must sample some of the cake you brought." Mary stood up. She was wearing a green sweater and green slacks and her figure was perfect.

The doorbell rang. "Talking of James, that’ll be him now," said Mary. "He often calls round."

Agatha smoothed her skirt. She realized she had not bothered to put on any make-up. Agatha knew there were lucky women who did not need to wear any makeup and that she was not one of that happy breed.

James Lacey came in and for a second a little flash of disappointment showed in his eyes when he saw Agatha. James Lacey was a very tall man in his mid-fifties. His thick black hair showed only a trace of grey. His eyes, like Mary’s, were bright blue. He kissed Mary on the cheek, smiled at Agatha and said, "Welcome back. Did you have a good holiday?"

"Mrs. Raisin has brought a cake," interrupted Mary. "I’ll make some tea while you two chat."

James smiled at Mary without quite looking at her, as if he longed to look at her, but was as shy as a schoolboy. He’s in love, thought Agatha, and wanted to get up and walk away.

She forced herself to talk brightly about her holidays, wishing she had some amusing stories to tell, but she had hardly talked to anyone and hardly anyone had talked to her.

Mary came back in bearing a tray. "Chocolate cake," she announced. "Now we shall all get fat."

"Not you," said James flirtatiously. "You don’t have to worry."

Mary smiled at him and James sent her back a shy little smile and bent his head over a slice of chocolate cake.

"I was thinking of joining the horticultural society," said Agatha. "When do they meet?"

Excerpted from The Potted Gardener by M. C. Beaton.

Copyright 1995 by M. C. Beaton.

Published in July 2009 by St. Martin s Press.

All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

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Customer Reviews

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( 28 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 28 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2014

    I want them all.

    This is book three. I have injoyed book 1,2 and 3.
    I look forward to book 4 and beyond.

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  • Posted October 11, 2013

    Addictive!

    Addictive!
    Have gotten hooked on M. C. Beaton since I got my nook and she is SUPERB!
    Highly recommend to all mystery hounds, especially if you like the English country side settings!

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  • Posted August 23, 2013

    Always fun!

    Poor Agatha. She will be chasing her neighbor forever. At least she got rid of one bit of competition. Funny. Perfect for summer.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2012

    Really good book!

    The relationship between Agatha and James is starting to develop more fully. It's interesting to read what they are each thinking about each other. The character development of the other inhabitants of the village is also rewarding.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 12, 2012

    In the third Agatha Raisin novel Agatha takes on gardening in a

    In the third Agatha Raisin novel Agatha takes on gardening in a big way. She joins the gardening club because there is a new woman in town that James Lacey seems attracted to. New villager Mary Fortune is an expert gardener and member of the gardening Club. Agatha sets off to win the gardening award in a hilarious set of circumstances. Of course all of the villagers are interwoven amongst a good mystery.... Detective Bill Wong, Mrs Bloxby, Mrs Mason and Miss Simms once again come to life. Just a delightful series. The author really brings Agatha and a great mystery to her readers.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2011

    Excellent!

    This was a great book. I enjoy the characters and the humor. Agatha Raisin has become one of my favorite series. I look forward to every book. Great for unwinding.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 9, 2010

    Murder in Carsley

    This is my first Agatha Raisen mystery but it won't be my last. The "characters" jump right off the page and it feels as if I know them even though the setting is in the Cotswolds of England. Human nature is the same no matter where you go. Pugnacious Agatha "grows" on the reader even if her garden doesn't!.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 27, 2009

    Enjoyed it!

    As always, M C Beaton is a fun read. Good book to sit down and just relax with. I prefer the Hamish Macbeth series, but Agatha is still interesting with her quirky personality and fun mysteries!

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    If you like Ms. Marple you will love Agatha Raisin

    This book is a quick read and Agatha Raisin is your modern day Ms. Marple. Simple and engaging. Great for a weekend or if you don't have a lot of time to devout to a book.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2001

    AGATHA COMES THROUGH AGAIN!!!

    I have read several of the Agatha Raisin and the Hamish Macbeth books. I have liked them all. In this one, Agatha has decided to start growing flowers to impress her, want to be sweetie, James Lacey. As usual she won't listen to anybody else and set her flowers out to soon and they are all killed by frost. She decides to have a load of plants brought in and get them planted in the middle of the night so others will think she grew them herself. This is similar to another book where she bought a quiche instead of baking it for a village competition and one of the judges was poisoned. As her friend, Bill Wong said, 'Cheating again? Led to disaster last time.' There is a new women in town who knows all about growing flowers and she is after James Lacey. Her name is Mary Fortune. Everyone seems to like Mary but she is found dead, upside down in a flower pot. Agatha and Lacey start asking questions to try to find the killer. Could it have been one of the gardeners who decided to get revenge on Mary? Or was it some one in her family? Beaton has done another good job. You can see in you mind the characters and the village as you read. Am looking forward to the next book.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2000

    The BEST of the Agatha Raisin books

    I've now read them all. Finding Agatha Raisin was a great discovery !!! I think this is the BEST in the series. It's outrageously funny. I loved it.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted April 7, 2010

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    Posted February 27, 2010

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    Posted September 3, 2011

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    Posted April 8, 2012

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    Posted December 24, 2010

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    Posted April 19, 2010

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    Posted January 6, 2011

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    Posted September 18, 2009

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    Posted June 12, 2011

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