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by M. C. Beaton
St Martin's Minotaur, June 2000
298 pages
ISBN: 0312204965

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Agatha Raisin's life isn't exactly turning out the way she wants it to. The love of her life has departed without telling her where he was going or when he would be back. Agatha decides to go to a fortuneteller to see what kind of turns her life is going to take. This fortuneteller tells her that her future lies in Norfolk. Agatha immediately throws a dart on a map and ends up renting a cottage in Fryfam.

Fryfam seems like a nice, relaxing place but of course looks can and will be deceiving. When Agatha arrives, glittering lights greet her. Not knowing what they are she asks the few people that she has met. Everyone tries to tell her that it is her imagination and changes the subject faster than you could say Fryfam. Finally after she sees the lights a couple of more times, she notices that she is missing a vase.

Thinking that whoever (or whatever) is responsible for the lights, they must have stolen the vase. She goes to the police chief, who tells her the town believes that fairies are responsible for the lights. She gets mad at the ridiculous notion and decides to investigate herself- since she has so many successful cases behind her

. She also decides to try and write a crime novel called Dead at the Manor. Besides causing a ruckus over fairies, Agatha is upsetting the old Fryfam ways. She talks the women of a local club to go to a pub at night. The men are evidently not happy with their wives horning in on their time and hang out. The husbands even threaten Agatha because they look at her as a bad influence.

One woman who decides to take advantage of this is Lucy Trumpington-James. She asks Agatha to spy on her husband to see if he is cheating on her. At this point many things begin to happen at once. Agatha's good friend Sir Charles Fraith comes to visit, Lucy's husband Tolly first has a very valuable painting stolen from him then later in the day is murdered. All in all, not a good day for Tolly. Naturally the police suspect Agatha and Charles because they are outsiders and the small, little coincidence of Tolly being murdered in the same exact way Agatha's character was in her book. There seem to be too many suspects and not enough motives.

I have heard only good things about the Agatha Raisin series so I expected to like it. Unfortunately I was disappointed in the whole book. I felt very impatient with Agatha. There was not one moment in the book where Agatha was happy and not complaining. She was always grumbling and came off as very arrogant and self-involved. The mystery also came across as very formulamatic. The one thing that I did like about the book was the relationship between Agatha and James Lacey. By the end of the book instead of caring who the killer was, I wanted to know what would happen between the two of them. I have no doubt that most cozy lovers will enjoy this series but it just wasn't my cup of tea. I prefer my cozy sleuths to be somewhat happy. Maybe as Agatha gets older, she will be more contented and I will have to give the series another try.

Reviewed by Robyn Glazer, August 2001

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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