Agatha Raisin: The Curious Curate and The Buried Treasure by M. C. Beaton

full cast recording, with Penelope Keith

Perhaps reversing the trend for aristocratic and patrician detectives, M. C. Beaton's Agatha Raisin's background is decidedly plebian: Agatha was born in a tower block 'slum' in Birmingham to unemployed and dipsomaniac, shoplifting parents, living on benefits.

Raisin drinks and smokes, but her self-determination forged her a lucrative career in PR and, having retreated to 'a quiet Cotswold village', falls into detecting by happy accident. This feisty, glorious character is superbly brought to life through the incomparable voice of Penelope Keith, supported by a host of excellent BBC drama regulars. In this boxed set of two one-hour dramas, Raisin is up against murder and mayhem - as well as duck racing, morris dancing, treasure hunts and secret libraries - but, as ever, more than anything, seeking romance.

Life-affirming and entertaining, if you haven't tried Agatha Raisin, this is thoroughly recommended.

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