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Monday 9 July 2012

Armed and Outrageous by Madison Johns

I suppose someone was going to try and re-invent Miss Marple at some point and bring her into the 21st Century. Madison made a very valiant effort with Armed and Outrageous. Agnes is our blue-rinse amateur sleuth. She’s 71 years old, got a twinkle in her eye, and very definitely all her marbles.

A pretty young girl, Jennifer, goes missing, and Agnes is more than just a little determined to get to the bottom of her disappearance, as her own granddaughter has been missing for a whole year.  Aided by her best friend, Eleanor, (who may well be the more ‘Outrageous’ of the duo), they find themselves at both ends of a gun more often than they should, in compromising positions rather frequently, a little ahem-ahem ‘happy’ more than once, and constantly at odds with the way they should be behaving as senior citizens.  Agnes’ conviction that her missing granddaughter is still alive, compels her to get to the bottom of Jennifer’s disappearance in the hope she will find the answer to both missing girls. 

This was a promising endeavour by Madison, but there is plenty of room for improvement.  I had a question mark or two (for example, Agnes’ daughter would have been grief-stricken to have her own daughter missing, but little if nothing was made of it), the book needs some serious editing (a large number of errors and the book meandered between present and past tenses), and there's rather a long and confusing cast list. BUT it was funny, sharp, and entertaining.  Agnes is the sort of pensioner we all secretly aspire to be…spunky, active, and…outrageous.

What captivated me about this book was that you get the impression that Madison really, really enjoyed writing it—there’s heart, soul, enthusiasm, and plenty of feeling in it.  I think Madison is still in a learning curve, but she is very definitely headed in the right direction, and I am looking forward to more adventures from this silver-haired senior.

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