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by M. C. Beaton
St Martin's Minotaur, August 2005
240 pages
ISBN: 031230448X

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Agatha Raisin moved from London to the Cotswolds village of Carsley a few years ago after she retired. She is happy living in the quiet community but that quietness soon becomes tiresome so she starts to look for something exciting to do. Since moving, she discovers that she is great at solving mysteries and murders, which the village seems to have quite a few of, so she has opened her own private investigation firm.

At first things have seemed just fine but her only clients have been unexciting, mostly people who needed her help finding their lost pets. Agatha wants a great case, a case that will give lots of publicity to her firm. When a jealous man asks her to follow his wife to see if she is seeing another man, Agatha jumps at the chance, hoping that this is the case that will finally make her famous.

As Agatha investigates, the husband that hired her is soon poisoned and she also runs across the body of a teenage girl. Now Agatha needs to discover who killed the man, whether his wife was involved in his death, who the dead girl is and are all of these cases somehow related.

Busy as that makes her Agatha still has the time to pine away after her husband who left her, daydreaming that he will one day return and she somehow also finds time to get herself a new love interest.

THE PERFECT PARAGON is the 16th in M C Beaton's delightful Agatha Raisin series. Almost every book is based on the same recipe: Agatha is bored and wants to do something exciting, she threatens to leave the village and return to London, then she finds a new man to fall in love with, while she daydreams that her husband who has left her will soon return. Even though the books follow the same outline there's something exceedingly charming about the village and everyone who lives there. I enjoy these romps completely.

The only problem I have is that 50+ years-old Agatha, who started out this series as a very strong woman who would not take any sort of guff from anyone, has recently somehow turned into a man-hungry schoolgirl every time a new handsome male appears within eyesight. It's off-putting for Agatha to act this way and there are times I feel like shaking her and telling her to act the way she used to, like a mature woman who knows her mind.

Nevertheless I love this series and I always look forward to Agatha's newest adventures. The Agatha Raisin books will never fail to put a smile on your face. Each book stands on its on, is easy to read, and is a great way to spend an afternoon, so I suggest you start reading this series at any point.

I urge you to visit Carsley by reading THE PERFECT PARAGON. Don't expect too much of a mystery but do expect to enjoy the characters who live in the village.

Reviewed by Sharon Katz, December 2005

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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