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by M. C. Beaton
St Martin's Press, July 1998
198 pages
ISBN: 0312965664

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist shares a place in the humorous mystery genre with Hamish Macbeth, the other main mystery character written under the M.C. Beaton name. However, Agatha's character is totally different from Hamish's. She is abrasive where he is charming. She blunders: he is frequently sly in his investigations.

Agatha Raisin is a middleaged woman who sold her public relations firm in the first novel of the Agatha Raisin series. She moved to the Cotswolds to live and fell in love and decided to marry her neighbour, James Lacey. In the novel before Terrible Tourist, Agatha and James are about to marry when, horror of horrors, Agatha's husband Jimmy Raisin (whom Agatha had thought dead) turns up. And is murdered. Agatha and James solve the mystery but when Agatha is hospitalised, James callously departs for Cyprus where they were to have spent their honeymoon.

Beaton has more Hamish and Agatha books coming out in hardcover. I do take issue with her work, though. She employs rather a sneaky technique, I feel, by making her books very short (Terrible Tourist is less than 200 pages). Beaton also leaves more loose ends than I think are necessary for being a hook for the next book of the series. I don't know if I am being unkind by whispering the word 'pot-boiler' behind the author's back. I am possibly overly censorious in feeling a little more effort could have been employed in writing this episode of Agatha Raisin. Despite these criticisms, I do intend buying the next in the series... but not until it comes out in paperback.

Reviewed by Denise Wels, August 2001

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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