by M.C. Beaton,
Minotaur Books, 2010
M.C. Beaton is back in fine form with this latest installment in the Agatha Raisin mystery series. When John Sunday, terror of the local Health and Safety Board, is murdered, there is no shortage of suspects. The man has been the bane of all who delight in Christmas - from Agatha's own minister, the Reverend Bloxby, to ladies in the nearby village of Odley Cruesis where the stabbing takes place.
The murder takes Agatha out of her depression as she seeks to determine its perpetrator. When the killing of Sunday is quickly followed by that of Miriam Courtney, a local would-be socialite, the plot thickens. The violent hanging of Sharon, one of Agatha's employees, by biker-gang boyfriend, Jazz Belter, results in the hiring of Simon Black, detective-in-training. With his help, and that of Agatha's able assistants, Toni and Patrick, the hunt for the Sunday and Courtney killer(s) is on.
Appearances by Raisin regulars Roy, Charles, James, and Mrs. Bloxby add to the fun, and readers will enjoy the addition of Black as a love interest for Toni and foil for indomitable former-PR queen, Agatha. Agatha has all her usual insecurity, angst, and ill-humour, as well as intelligence and rough charm.
An easy-reading romp through the Cotswolds, with plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing. A satisfying Christmas mystery.