The Quiche of Death by M.C. Beaton

agatha-raisin-and-the-quiche-of-death-by-m.c.-beatonThe Quiche of Death by M.C. Beaton
Narrated by Penelope Keith
Series: Agatha Raisin #1
Genre: Contemporary Mystery (Cozy)
Setting: The Cotswolds in England
Published by Blackstone Audio, 2012 (originally published 1992)
Audiobook, purchased
272 pages
6 hours, 26 minutes
Grade: B+
Narrator grade: B+
Synopsis:  Putting all her eggs in one basket, Agatha Raisin gives up her successful PR firm, sells her London flat, and samples a taste of early retirement in the quiet village of Carsely. Bored, lonely and used to getting her way, she enters a local baking contest: Surely a blue ribbon for the best quiche will make her the toast of the town. But her recipe for social advancement sours when Judge Cummings-Browne not only snubs her entry–but falls over dead! After her quiche’s secret ingredient turns out to be poison, she must reveal the unsavory truth…

Agatha has never baked a thing in her life! In fact, she bought her entry ready-made from an upper crust London quicherie. Grating on the nerves of several Carsely residents, she is soon receiving sinister notes. Has her cheating and meddling landed her in hot water, or are the threats related to the suspicious death? It may mean the difference between egg on her face and a coroner’s tag on her toe…

Initial impressions

  • This was a delight! Especially fun to listen to.


  • I like the narrator. Easy to understand and does the different voices very well.
  • Agatha–who takes an early retirement and has lived and worked in London–starts out having little in the way of social skills as the book begins. She’s a prickly and a not very likable person. By the end of the book she begins to slowly gain some social skills and look at things from other people’s point of view–sometimes!
  • She decides to retire in the Cotswolds, because she spent a vacation there years before when she was a child. She’s never lived in a village before and has no idea what she’s doing!
  • After she moves she decides to enter a village quiche baking contest, because she’s sure she will win (even though she doesn’t cook!) and that will make everyone like her. (As I said above–she doesn’t have many people skills!)
  • The fact she doesn’t cook doesn’t phase her a bit–she goes to London and buys a quiche from her favorite shop. She doesn’t really think she’s cheating!
  • Thus, she’s shocked when she doesn’t win. Later she learns the judge has favorites in the various villages where he judges local contests.
  • She’s surprised when the judge is murdered and her quiche is apparently what poisoned him. Then she’s embarrassed when the police question her and ask her to make the quiche again. !he has to admit she didn’t make the original quiche!
  • She’s convinced she will never be able to show her face in the village again. And some people in the village don’t like her, but others are more forgiving and even find the incident funny. They assure her she never had a chance of winning.
  • The police finally decide the quiche’s poison (a plant) was added by mistake and the death was an accident.
  • Agatha isn’t so sure and she begins to ask questions.
  • There’s lots of humor in the book.
  • She becomes friends with one of the young policemen who keeps an eye on her. He gently suggests she might change some of her attitudes and she might like village life.
  • There’s an old-fashioned quality to the book (perhaps because it was written over 20 years ago?) I think it’s more than that. Agatha is an old-fashioned character.
  • The mystery is engaging, but really the book is as much about Agatha’s journey. And I suspect that journey will continue in future books!


  • It’s hard to believe Agatha would reach the age she is and still be so socially inept.

And a few other thoughts . . .

  • There are a lot of books in this series and I hope to read some more of them.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • M.C.Beaton was born in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1936. She worked at several papers including one where she reported mostly on crime. She finally moves to Fleet Street to the Daily Express where she became chief woman reporter.
  • After marrying Harry Scott Gibbons and having a son, Charles they moved to the United States. She wanted to spend more time at home with her small son so she started to write Regency romances.
  • She wrote over 100 regency romances under her maiden name–Marion Chesney–but she got tired of that and began to write detectives stories.
  • On a trip from the States to Sutherland on holiday, a course at a fishing school inspired the first Hamish Macbeth story. They returned to Britain and bought a croft house in Sutherland. Eventually, they moved to the Cotswolds where Agatha Raisin was created.
  • Marion Chesney is known primarily for the more than 100 historical romance novels she has published under her own name and under several pseudonyms: Helen Crampton, Ann Fairfax, Jennie Tremaine, and Charlotte Ward. But M.C. Beaton is the pseudonym she reserves for her crime fiction and mystery novels.

Reading Challenges

  • 2015 Goodreads Challenge
  • Audiobook Challenge–hosted by Hot Listens and The Book Nympho blogs
  • Cloak & Dagger Mystery Challenge–hosted by Amy @ A Bookish Girl
  • New Author Challenge–hosted by the Literary Escapism blog