Agatha Raisin is so self-absorbed.
In M.C. Beaton’s Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardner, Agatha comes home from a lonely vacation. She has made no friends, and now she finds an interloper in the village.
Mary Fortune moved to Carsely. She is young-looking and beautiful. She is working to become president of at least a couple of women’s groups. She is a wonderful cook. She has a beautiful flower garden. And she has had a brief affair with Agatha’s neighbor James Lacey.
Of course, Agatha thinks James belongs to her.
To compete with Mary, Agatha enters the Carsely Garden Open Day. Agatha cheats all the way. She contracts to work for six months for a former employer if he will hire London experts to come in the dead of night and plant a professional garden for her.
To make things even more complicated, someone uses herbicide on several of the gardens in the upcoming contest. The same person also kills a whole pond full of prized goldfish.
Then someone murders Mary Fortune, planting her headfirst in a flowerpot.
As you can guess, Agatha works with James and a police friend to solve the murder.
Anyone in the village could have committed the murder. As it turns out, almost everyone hates the snide, backstabbing Mary.
As impossible as it is for Agatha to believe, many of those same villagers accept and love Agatha (warts and all).
Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardner is more of a character study than a mystery.
Almost everyone in the village has a motive. Meaningful clues are so sparse that right up to the end, Beaton could have manipulated Agatha’s explanation of events to make any of several villagers the guilty person.
But all of that hardly matters. Agatha and her crew are enough in and of themselves to make the book worth reading.
I’ve read several Agatha Raisin books. This was one of the most enjoyable and quick to read.