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by M. C. Beaton
St Martin's Minotaur, September 2006
224 pages
ISBN: 0312349106

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

The 17th installment in the Agatha Raisin series is chock full of old familiar characters. As usual for many, such as Sir Charles Fraith and Roy Silver, they drop in and out at will. The most interesting 'old familiar' is James Lacey, Agatha's ex-husband who very surprisingly invites Agatha to accompany him on a mystery vacation.

With dreamy visions and a wardrobe to match, Agatha sweeps off to the mystery destination only to find it turn into a nightmare that seems as if it will never end. What transpires will keep the pages turning furiously in an effort for the reader to keep up with Agatha. Her mouth gets her suspected of murder first, and then gets her kidnapped.

Agatha's friends flock to console her and she calls in her colleagues to help find the killer. Little does she know that more deaths are to follow. With the stormy sea about to envelope the hotel from hell, and death threats at every turn, it proves almost too much for Agatha. She finds herself pursued by a very confused James, rather than the other way around, and can't decide what she should do. The police would gladly have her leave so they can get on with their work but Agatha insists upon staying, as does everyone at the hotel who would be free to leave but won't.

You may need a scorecard if you want to keep the suspects and other interested parties straight. Agatha's investigations take her from the countryside to the London suburbs and back again with dizzying plots and subplots.

The story does at times appear to be hastily written. It destroys the illusion when Agatha tells suspects that she is from a detective agency and they invite her into their home, and answer all of her questions. She easily finds where people live and computers in the book seem to divulge information the moment they are turned on. The unraveling of the various mysteries is almost like dropping a reel of film, although Agatha fans will be very satisfied with the ending.

M C Beaton has been named the British guest of honor at Bouchercon 2006. With LOVE, LIES AND LIQUOR due out at the same time it will be a double treat for those lucky enough to get the book and see her in person too. Hopefully she has many more adventures of Agatha Raisin just waiting to be written.

Reviewed by Ginger K. W. Stratton, June 2006

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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