At 53, Agatha Raisin has realised her dream. She has sold her firm, Raisin Promotions, and is retiring from the 'ephemeral world of public relations' to the idyllic Cotswolds village of Carsely.
"She was free. She could relax. No temperamental pop stars to handle, no prima donnaish couture firms to launch..."
But settling in to village life is a challenge.
"It helps in Public Relations to have a certain amount of charm and Agatha had none. She got results by being a sort of one-woman soft cop/hard cop combination: alternatively bullying and wheedling on behalf of her clients. Journalists often gave space to her clients just to get rid of her. She was also an expert at emotional blackmail and anyone unwise enough to accept a present or a free lunch from Agatha was pursued shamelessly until they paid her back in kind."
Agatha understands journalists:
- "Journalists as a rule belong to the kind of people who are born feeling guilty."
- "Women journalists feel obliged to write about babies to show they are normal. They have to keep trying to identify with the housewives they secretly despise."
Not surprisingly, her PR experience comes in handy when she decides to run a charity auction.
She set about phoning up the editors of local newspapers to raise publicity.. Local editors were used to timid, pleading approaches from ladies of the parish. Never before had they experienced anything like Agatha Raisin on the other end of the phone. Alternately bullying and wheedling, she left them with a feeling that something only a little short of the crown jewels was going to be auctioned. All promised to send reporters, knowing they would have to keep their word...
Just to make sure the auction is noticed, she enlists former employee Roy Silver to stand by the roadside, wearing 'a jesters outfit, cap and bells and all."
"You put it on, you stand by the A44, beside the signs and you wave people down to the village. You could do a little dance."
"No, absolutely not," said Roy, mulishly.
Agatha eyed him speculatively, "If you do it I will give you an idea for those nurseries which will put you on the PR map for lfe.... I'll get your photo into the papers and make them describe you as a famous public relations executive from London.
"Look, Roy, I'm not asking you to do it. I'm telling you."
And she does. Roy is mentioned on local TV, and his new employer is so impressed with the photo of him in Sunday Times he is made a junior executive with a private office and a secretary.
"It was all my own work, thought Agatha, regretting bitterly having given Roy the credit."
Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death, by MC Beaton (Kindle edition)