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Published in UK by Constable, 16 October
2014. ISBN: 9781849019767
in US by Minotaur Books)
Agatha Raisin accepts
that being a part of village life involves self-sacrifice, like yielding to her
friend Mrs Bloxby's appeal to attend the amateur pantomime at Winter Parva, a
village near their own village of Carsley, even though she loathes pantomime.
Of course Agatha should have known better than to return to an entertainment at
such an ill-omened village; in the past she had investigated a particularly
gruesome death here. Agatha is resigned to boredom until Bert Simple, the actor
playing the ogre, disappears down the trapdoor on stage and meets a
particularly unpleasant death.
Agatha's detective agency is employed by Gareth Craven, the
producer of the show, to investigate the murder of Bert, the local baker. Bert
was unpopular in the village but everybody describes his beautiful wife, Gwen,
as 'a saint;' at least all the local men see her in this way. As always the
local police are less than impressed by Agatha's intervention, most of them resent
her nosiness, although Agatha's friend, Bill Wong is concerned about her
Despite the efforts of Agatha's detective agency and the
police, the death toll and the danger mount higher and Agatha finds herself
facing the threat of an exceedingly unpleasant death.
This is the 25th book in the Agatha Raisin series
and the black comedy is as lively as ever. The cast of staple characters make
welcome reappearances, including the staff from the detective agency, people
from the village or the ex-lovers that Agatha has managed to stay on good terms
with. One of the strengths of the series is that Agatha has grown and become a
far more likeable character than the woman who had first arrived in the village
of Carsley some years (and many murder investigations) ago. I found this book
great fun and would recommend it as a very enjoyable read.
M.C. Beaton was born in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1936 and started her first job as
a bookseller in charge of the fiction department in John Smith & Sons Ltd.
While bookselling, by chance, she got an offer from the Scottish Daily
Mail to review variety shows and quickly rose to be
their theatre critic. She left Smith’s to join Scottish Field magazine as a secretary in the advertising department, without any
shorthand or typing, but quickly got the job of fashion editor instead.
She then moved to the Scottish Daily Express where she reported mostly on
crime. This was followed by a move to Fleet Street to the Daily
Express where she became chief woman reporter. After
marrying Harry Scott Gibbons and having a son, Charles, Marion went to the
United States where Harry had been offered the job of editor of the Oyster Bay
Guardian. When that didn’t work out, they went to Virginia and Marion worked as
a waitress in a greasy spoon on the Jefferson Davies in Alexandria while Harry
washed the dishes. Both then got jobs on Rupert Murdoch’s new tabloid, The
Star, and moved to New York. Anxious to spend more time at home with her small
son, Marion, urged by her husband, started to write Regency romances. After she
had written over 100 of them under her maiden name of Marion Chesney and
getting fed up with 1811 to 1820, she 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 and croft in Sutherland where Harry reared a flock of
black sheep. But Charles was at school, in London so when he finished and both
tired of the long commute to the north of Scotland, they moved to the Cotswolds
where Agatha Raisin was created.
Carol Westronis a successful short story writer and a Creative
Writing teacher.She is the moderator
for the cosy/historical crime panel, The Deadly Dames.Her crime novels are set both in contemporary
and Victorian times.The Terminal
Velocity of Cats is the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, was published
July 2013. Her second book About the
Children was published in May 2014.