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Agatha Raisin has always been ambivalent about holiday cheer, but her cozy little village of Carsely has long prided itself on its Christmas festivities.

But this year Mr. John Sunday, a self important officer with the Health and Safety Board, has ruled that the traditional tree on top of the church is a public menace; that lampposts are unsafe for hanging illuminations; that May Dimwoody's homemade toys are dangerous for children. Things have reached such a desperate pass that the Carsely Ladies' Society joins forces with the ladies in the neighboring village of Odley Cruesis to try to put a stop to Mr. Sunday's meddling - only to find that someone has literally put a stop to him with a kitchen knife.

Agatha's detective agency is on the case, but when a man has made as many enemies as John Sunday, it's hard to know where to start.

7 pages, Audio CD

First published October 12, 2010

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About the author

M.C. Beaton

526 books5,321 followers
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Marion Chesney Gibbons
aka: Ann Fairfax, Jennie Tremaine, Helen Crampton, Marion Chesney, Charlotte Ward, Sarah Chester.

Marion Chesney was born on 1936 in Glasgow, Scotland, UK, and started her first job as a bookseller in charge of the fiction department in John Smith & Sons Ltd. While bookselling, by chance, she got an offer from the Scottish Daily Mail to review variety shows and quickly rose to be their theatre critic. She left Smith’s to join Scottish Field magazine as a secretary in the advertising department, without any shorthand or typing, but quickly got the job of fashion editor instead. She then moved to the Scottish Daily Express where she reported mostly on crime. This was followed by a move to Fleet Street to the Daily Express where she became chief woman reporter. After marrying Harry Scott Gibbons and having a son, Charles, Marion went to the United States where Harry had been offered the job of editor of the Oyster Bay Guardian. When that didn’t work out, they went to Virginia and Marion worked as a waitress in a greasy spoon on the Jefferson Davies in Alexandria while Harry washed the dishes. Both then got jobs on Rupert Murdoch’s new tabloid, The Star, and moved to New York.

Anxious to spend more time at home with her small son, Marion, urged by her husband, started to write historical romances in 1977. After she had written over 100 of them under her maiden name, Marion Chesney, and under the pseudonyms: Ann Fairfax, Jennie Tremaine, Helen Crampton, Charlotte Ward, and Sarah Chester, she getting fed up with 1714 to 1910, she began to write detectives stories in 1985 under the pseudonym of M. C. Beaton. On a trip from the States to Sutherland on holiday, a course at a fishing school inspired the first Constable Hamish Macbeth story. They returned to Britain and bought a croft house and croft in Sutherland where Harry reared a flock of black sheep. But Charles was at school, in London so when he finished and both tired of the long commute to the north of Scotland, they moved to the Cotswolds where Agatha Raisin was created.

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5 stars
1,696 (22%)
4 stars
2,955 (38%)
3 stars
2,484 (32%)
2 stars
426 (5%)
1 star
79 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 599 reviews
402 reviews6 followers
July 22, 2011
I honestly don't know why I continue to read this series. Almost every single person is unpleasant, INCLUDING the main character. The whole feeling of the series is uncomfortable, itchy and irritable - it's like wearing a too-tight sweater. I guess because they take place in a Cotswold village, I keep hoping that there will be something attractive and charming in them. The cover is misleading, too - there is almost NOTHING about Christmas in the book. It starts just before Christmas time and by page 58 (in a 278 page book), it's suddenly MARCH! Rushed, rude and ridiculous, as usual. Bah.
Profile Image for Pattie Tierney.
135 reviews11 followers
October 18, 2010
Another great Beaton book with the irascible Agatha Raisin at it again. A number of murders are investigated in this book with more time passing than usual and, consequently, a mystery a bit more complex than those in the past. A new addition to the detective agency adds another dimension. There's a lot to like in this book, old familiars as well as the new, and some surprises at the end that make me anxious to read the next installment. I'll have to wait another year for book 22 and the continuing saga of Agatha and company in Carsley.
Profile Image for Jenny L.
722 reviews4 followers
September 26, 2013
Read them! All of them. All 23. They are simply fabulous! I love them and love Agatha Raisin. The stories are set in the English Cotswolds - which is where I'm from, so that makes them extra special, but I cannot recommend them highly enough. If you want to read about an opinionated, outspoken, headstrong single woman in her middle years with no money worries, but men worries and murder at every turn, then you too will love Agatha Raisin. Just make sure you buy more than one at a time, because you will regret it otherwise!
Profile Image for Jessica.
Author 31 books5,632 followers
December 15, 2021
Although Marion Chesney/M. C. Beaton has long been one of my favorite authors, I had not tried her Agatha Raisin books. Shocking, I know! I've read all her Regency romances multiple times, and ditto Hamish Macbeth (okay, just once for all of them, except for A Highland Christmas). So with great delight I saw that my library had the audiobook of a Christmas Agatha Raisin mystery ready to download.

And . . . it's not my favorite.

I understand that Agatha is supposed to be sort of a lady curmudgeon. She's bossy and selfish and falls in love with unsuitable men . . . but I didn't care? I thought she was annoying, and so did her friends, apparently. Several of them ignore her advice or tease her because they want to teach her a lesson but I . . . didn't care.

The mystery rambled all over the place. Literally. The whole book did. It started out in a sunny holiday spot, returned to the Cotswolds, then there was a bit in France . . . it took place over the course of a year, too, which made it distantly odd that people could remember the most minute details about the night of the murder. Nine months later, one woman, when asked, knew who had been sitting in which chair and who had gone to the toilet and when.

In short, it was fine. Not my favorite.
Profile Image for Alan Teder.
1,988 reviews103 followers
October 5, 2021
Agatha Meddles While Investigating
Review of the Blackstone Audio Inc. audiobook edition (October 2010) of the original St. Martin's Press Minotaur hardcover (October 2010)
"I'll go," said Charles.
"But you're not a detective!" exclaimed Toni.
"I'm hurt. His photo's on the article. I'll recognise him. Anyway, I know more about the underside of London than can be dreamt of in your philosophy, Horatio."
"Why are you calling her Horatio?" asked Agatha.

The Busy Body finds Agatha investigating the murder of a local Health and Safety Board officer who had earned the enmity of the entire village of Carsley by banning various festive activities such as a Christmas light display and a Christmas tree on the Vicarage roof as hazardous. Meanwhile, Agatha chases off Toni Gilmour's friend Sharon from the detective agency and has a new detective named Simon Black on probation. Simon shows an apparent romantic interest in Agatha's young protégée detective Toni Gilmour and Agatha starts scheming behind the scenes to discourage the budding romance.

I'm continuing to enjoy the fun of these cozies which are somewhat different from the TV-series which I saw first. Agatha is definitely more cranky in the books, but it is her human faults that make us accept her. Young detective Toni Gilmour continues here in this book #21 (in the TV series she was brought in at the beginning of Season 3, but as the niece of the housekeeper Simpson). Sir Charles is much more of a recurring character and occasional love interest than he is in the screen adaptation and his cheap and chintzy manners are played up quite a bit.

The narration of this book #21 continues the return of the series regular reader Penelope Keith after Wanda MacCaddon narrated books #18 & #19. MacCaddon was fine in the role but gave a much more restrained performance than Keith does in the other voices e.g. the exaggerated vocal mannerisms of Roy and Sir Charles.

Most (28 of 32) of the Agatha Raisin audiobooks are free on Audible Plus. A continuation series Book 32 Down the Hatch is yet to be released, and is expected to be published in October 2021. Down the Hatch is apparently entirely written by continuation writer R.W. Green whereas #31 Hot to Trot was a collaboration with M.C. Beaton.

Trivia and No Link
The Busy Body has not been adapted for the currently ongoing Agatha Raisin TV series (2016-). It is possible that it would be in a future Season 5 in 2022/23? as the TV series is mostly following the order of the books.
Profile Image for Teri-K.
2,072 reviews44 followers
December 11, 2022
I need to admit up front that I've read a few of the early books in this series and I didn't like them at all. In fact I decided to never read another one. But when I heard that Penelope Keith is narrating these I had to try one out. I've enjoyed Ms Keith in "Good Neighbors" and "To the Manor Born" on TV, and I find her voice delightfully British. So I decided to try listening to this Christmasy book just after the holidays. The verdict? I really, really like Penelope Keith. I really, really don't like Agatha Raisin.

Agatha is a sour, conniving liar who cheats without compunction, suffers from almost constant jealousy and is selfish and very rude. How she manages to have several men yearning for her I don't know. I'd think any man with half a brain would run the other direction very quickly after viewing only a few of her machinachions or enduring her shrewish conversation.

In this book she runs a detective agency with quite a few employees though they have very few cases. How does she pay them all? The premise - that a Scrooge-like man is murdered just before Christmas, is interesting enough. But by the end of the book ten people have died, which honestly shocked me as I was listening. I've read novels about terrorists that had a lower body count. And Agatha has once again shown herself to be a thoroughly unlikable person.

Humor is a very personal thing. There are books I think are hilarious that no one I know even smiles at. "Our Hearts were Young and Gay", for example. And I really should know by now that when I'm snickering over an old book and someone asks, "What's so funny?" I just need to answer "There's a cute part in this book". Because if I read it aloud nobody else will laugh. So I have no problem with people who enjoy this series. I'm just not one of them. Though I still like Ms Keith a lot. If only she'd record, "Our Hearts were Young and Gay" I'd be very happy. :)
Profile Image for Berit Talks Books.
2,019 reviews15.7k followers
August 21, 2017
Will Agatha and Charles actually end up together???

Once again Agatha finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation.... she also managed to get the swine flu.... there was a lot going on in this book, and ultimately all of it was over Christmas lights..... when I pick up a book in the series it is not for an amazing mystery, but rather fabulous characters that always make me feel like I'm home.... can't even believe I am almost to the end of the series, what will I do???
Profile Image for Rebecca.
1,512 reviews3 followers
December 13, 2017
Sometimes you just need a dose of over-the-top Ms Agatha Raisin. This is a series I love coming back to, and I know I can jump in and read any book in the series and still love it. I also enjoy how different life is for Agatha Raisin and the start and end of this series. She has gone from PR snoop to a professional detective with employees (and still such a snoop). Her propensity to quickly fall in and out of love with men and be easily insulted never does change, which endears her to me even more.
In this installment, an obnoxious outsider who is determined to ruin everyone's fun has been murdered and not many people are upset. Agatha herself goes through stages of nonchalance about finding the murder, but also wants to be the one who solves it all and makes a new appearance. I really enjoyed getting to know the side characters more in the story. This storyline kind of bumbles every which way for a while; enough so that I had absolutely no idea who the real murderer was by the end. It could be anyone and no-one and I think the author did a marvelous job of keeping us confused. I liked the ending very much (all in very typical Agatha style) and I can't wait to read more in this cozy series.
Profile Image for Michael Mallory.
70 reviews1 follower
May 13, 2012
Maybe it's time for M.C. Beaton to sit back and rest a bit. The incredibly prolific authors has turned out dozens upon dozens of cozy mysteries, most either featuring rural Scottish policeman Hamish Macbeth, or domineering Agatha Raisin, whose adventures are set in a Cottswolds village. It's clear from the title which series "Agatha Raisin and the Busy Body" falls into, though maybe it should have been titled "...and the Busy Book," since characters run around hither and yon, and their runnings don't add up to much. This book reads like several short stories or novellas pasted together to meet a contractual obligation for a novel. Beaton's books tend to be quick, clever little romps featuring colorful and usually endearing characters, so one has to assume this is simply an aberration. One thing is for certain, though: if you are new to M.C. Beaton and/or Agatha Raisin, do not start with this volume.
Profile Image for Megan.
Author 8 books10 followers
November 1, 2014
This book reminded me of the time I made the mistake of getting my lady parts waxed at a nail salon: thoroughly and unnecessarily unpleasant. I wanted it to end. But it just didn't. Not for quite some time. Every small action was drawn out. And just when I would see a glimmer of hope that the whole thing was about to be over, it wasn't.

Let's agree on some basics for a murder mystery: if four people have already been killed and a few more sent to the hospital, you fail as a detective! You did not solve the mystery soon enough! Additionally, if the main murder of the story is overshadowed by a much more interesting one, which is then solved sooner, by someone other than the detective protagonist, your murder mystery may have barged in on some other author's murder mystery that was proceeding at a much more reasonable and thrilling pace.
Profile Image for Georgiann Hennelly.
1,949 reviews22 followers
March 25, 2011
Agatha Raisin is a cranky but lovable private investigator. her cozy little village of Carsely has always prided itself on its christmas festivities, But this year Mr John Sunday an officer with the Health and safety board has put a damper on things. He has ruled no decorating the lampposts to danagerous , no tree on top of the church amongest other things so when he is murdered, , Agatha decides to solve the crime, but with so many enemies it is hard to know where to start-or how to stop the killer or killer's from striking again.
Profile Image for Georgiana 1792.
1,837 reviews111 followers
July 22, 2019
Agatha Raisin mi diverte sempre, ma le storie tendono essere tutte molto simili. Anche se in questo romanzo c'è l'inserimento di Simon Black, un ragazzo giovane, appena uscito dalle scuole superiori, che promette di essere un personaggio molto interessante; aspettiamo gli sviluppi.
Agatha gira come una trottola, e non solo nei Cotswolds. In questo episodio va a indagare a Philadelphia e in Francia. Decide di partire su due piedi e, senza neanche ascoltare obiezioni, prende l'aereo. Del resto, il romanzo si apre con il suo tentativo di trascorrere una vacanza all'estero durante il periodo natalizio, fallita miseramente, quindi è anche logico che ne approfitti per viaggiare anche se il suo solo scopo è interrogare la figlia di una delle vittime. Tanto poi lei è bravissima ad agitare talmente tanto le acque da far riemergere i cadaveri nascosti nell'armadio.
Profile Image for Anastasia.
1,392 reviews66 followers
May 4, 2023
Agatha Raisin and the Busy Body by M.C. Beaton is the 21st book in the Agatha Raisin Mystery series. Health and Safety officer, John Sunday, has been causing problems with his overzealous and pedantic rules that a meeting is held to stop him, only for him to be murdered just outside the hall. It is always great to catch up with Agatha and her friends. Agatha is always ready to step in and help whether needed or not and although jealous of the younger members of her agency, remains loyal and helpful to them when needed. I enjoyed this book more as Agatha wasn't pining after a man as usual but seems to have become a bit more sensible. Fast paced and lots of fun.
Profile Image for Rach.
115 reviews9 followers
September 7, 2022
It finally feels like my dear Agatha is being appreciated by the people around her! This book brought a big smile to my face from beginning to end (which I’ve come to expect from this series).

I’m just going to leave here a quote from Agatha that is admittedly a bit rude but it made me laugh:
Aren’t the French marvellous when it comes to flirting, she thought. It’s a technique we lost in Britain as soon as the birth control pill arrived on the scene. Flirt with a man back home and all you get is ‘Enough of this nonsense, drop your drawers.’
Profile Image for Skyesmum .
510 reviews11 followers
January 11, 2020
Listened to it on audio, I think that Penelope Keith is just brilliant as the narrator, which has encouraged me to listen to as many as I can.
The story was good, a little bit 'Midsomer esque' but still very good.
The writing in some parts is very exciting and in others very funny!

Looking forward to reading/ listening to the next.
Profile Image for Aimee Nicole Walker.
Author 63 books1,768 followers
February 3, 2022
Another well-written mystery, a continuation of infuriating men, and an expanding detective agency. Is a love triangle in store for our formidable Agatha?
Profile Image for Jo.
657 reviews63 followers
February 17, 2016
2.5 stars

I wouldn't normally reach for a novel like this, simply because although I like crime and mystery novels, I prefer mine American, historical or both but this was a Christmas present and looked a nice light read.

Light it was, I was amazed at how quickly I read it but it's fast paced and there are a multiplicity of characters and endless action to keep the momentum going. I'm a fan of the English TV series Midsomer Murders which are based on the novels of Caroline Graham though I've never read any. They portray an idyllic British countryside with picturesque villages and Lords of the Manor but with a rotten underbelly where numerous murders occur every week. All of these elements were in this book, quirky characters, tiny cottages, pastoral scenes and stately homes but there was also much more going on to the point of chaos.

In Midsomer Murders much is made of the fact that the murder count is never small and the perpetrator often unlikely. To spoil the story entirely, ten people are dead by the end of the novel, two by accident, four murdered and four committed suicide - that's not to mention two other attempted murders! The action has moved from the Cotswolds in England to Philadelphia and the French Mediterranean coast, a small detective agency apparently needs six or seven people working there and Agatha Raisin herself -well she just isn't that appealing - kind of important for a series based around her.

The conversations are often stilted especially for the younger characters and there is a lot of the same conversation, the same "come in and have a nice cup of tea" etc. The plot itself isn't too bad, turning out to be two separate investigations and, perhaps because of its implausibility, keeping you guessing and, as I've said, the action is fast paced but I think I need a little more weight, a little more darkness in my crime novels.

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Darlene.
899 reviews437 followers
October 19, 2016
A great mix of murder, mayhem, and humour makes this another enjoyable installment in the Agatha Raisin series!

The story starts off with Agatha in Corsica, determined to put thoughts of Christmas out of her head. It seems that she can’t escape Christmas, even there! With most of the local restaurants and shops closed for the holidays, Agatha does not have much to do and the local Christmas decorations only remind her of what she is missing in Carsely. She returns to the Cotswolds to find that John Sunday, the local Health and Safety Board Officer, is ruining Christmas! His determination to put the kibosh on all of the festivities that he deems “unsafe” has put a huge target on his back, and it is no surprise when he is murdered. Agatha is hired by the police’s prime suspect to find the real murderer, and Agatha’s involvement in the investigation causes some tension between her and Bill Wong. Roy Silver and Charles Fraith both lend a hand, but Roy is attacked by the villain as a warning to stay away.

I like Agatha’s new detective, Simon Black. I think he makes a good love interest for Toni Gilmour. I want to strangle Charles Fraith’s butler, Gustav! And that ending? I would have loved to be a fly on the wall to see the look on James Lacey’s face!

Penelope Keith just had me in stitches with this one. I absolutely love listening to her! Her narration is just perfect in every way.

This review was posted on my blog.
Profile Image for Gerry.
Author 43 books92 followers
March 14, 2015
'Is it any use , Agatha, telling you yet again to keep out of it?' says police officer Bill Wong to amateur sleuth Agatha Raisin after the second murder in that terrorised village of Carsely in the Cotswolds. The unsaid answer was 'No, there is no point telling me', for Agatha gets deeply involved in all the intrigue and various murders that take place, one of which takes place very early in the piece.

Agatha and her trusty crew, plus assistance from one or two of her old friends, delve as usual and, not surprisingly, she gets herself into all sorts of scrapes along the way. In addition she is always looking out for a bit of romance ... and quite often she thinks she has found it only to be thwarted at the last minute. And if any of her young staff start looking for love, her jealousy is such that she puts various barriers up so that they are unable to make any progress.

The action centres on the Cotswolds but also moves abroad and when in France Agatha is horrified to be confronted by a headline ENGLAND'S ANSWER TO INSPECTOR CLOUSEAU with an unflattering photograph of herself underneath. Indeed the perpetrators of the crimes are discovered, quite by chance (and somewhat unconvincingly), in France by Agatha' one-time short-lived husband James Lacey.

The storyline is not quite as strong as previous titles in the series but even so Agatha and her cohorts, strong characters all, provide for an entertaining read.
Profile Image for Damaskcat.
1,782 reviews4 followers
March 30, 2017
John Sunday is causing havoc in and around Carsely - the Cotswold village where Agatha Raisin lives. He is a Health and Safety officer and is upsetting everyone by banning things such as the Christmas Tree on top of the church steeple and the wooden shelves in the village shop.

Then during a meeting in a nearby vicarage to organise a protest against Sunday's activities the man himself is found dead in the garden. The problem for the police and for Agatha is that there are too many suspects. Just about all the villagers have means motive and opportunity to commit the crime.

This is the sort of case Agatha loves - where she can go ferreting around to find all the secrets that everyone wants to hide - and there are plenty of secrets to discover especially when another murder is committed and the whole thing acquires an international flavour.

I really enjoyed this fast paced story and the character development of the series characters. Agatha is also taking on new detectives for her expanding detective agency. This is a great addition to the series and will be read and enjoyed by all Agatha Raisin's many fans.
24 reviews20 followers
September 3, 2011
I picked this book up from the library because I was heading to the Cotswolds (the area of England where the series takes place) and thought it would be fun to read something local. I made it about 100 pages in, and then gave up and skimmed through the last 50 pages to see whodunnit, though honestly I didn't care very much by that point. This is not my kind of story. I found the characterizations to be simultaneously hateful and unbelievable, like the author is stretching to see just how awful she can make her protagonists come across. I prefer my flawed heroes & heroines to have a little more self-awareness, and for the plots points of a mystery to follow a little more logically from one to the next.
Profile Image for Sarah.
609 reviews8 followers
July 24, 2012
I think this book would be getting exactly half the stars if I hadn't listened to the fantastic audiobook version read by Penelope Keith. Her interpretation of the characters was just spot on and lifted the enjoyment level considerably of what was a fairly drawn out tale with numerous weak points. Because of Penelope Keith I'll probably be trying another Agatha Raisin sometime in the future.
Profile Image for Laura Leilani.
270 reviews10 followers
February 25, 2018
Another ridiculous adventure with our Aggie. This book had a more complicated plot. Wish there were more details about Agatha's trip to America. That could have been hilarious! Will Agatha settle down with Sir Charles?! Fingers crossed!
Profile Image for Lee.
432 reviews15 followers
May 8, 2015
Love, love, love Aggie. It's nice to see its not all about her this time, there are a few characters and you are hearing more of them in this one. On to the next one!
694 reviews1 follower
April 28, 2021
What can I say that I haven’t said before? I love these Agatha Raisin books. While some other reviewers have found Agatha irritating, I find her totally refreshing.
Profile Image for Kovaxka.
531 reviews27 followers
September 1, 2019
Némi kihagyás után mindig feldobnak az Agatha Raisin történetek, ez most fordulatosabb is volt az átlagnál. Agatha észnél volt, elmaradtak a szokások klisék Billy Wonggal és Charles-szal kapcsolatban, az új szereplő is szimpatikus – remélem, még marad. Jót tett a sztorinak, hogy telt-múlt közben az idő, több ügyben és másik faluban nyomoztak. Persze a végére megkaptuk megint a szokásos párkapcsolati bonyodalmat, de különben hová haladna ez a sorozat? Részemről jöhet a következő! (Amúgy meg irtóra kéne nekem egy ilyen Mrs. Raisin, aki fellendíti a vállalkozásomat!)
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