Yes, Agatha Raisin is BACK. Nobody’s favourite detective returns for the eighth instalment in this seemingly unending series (the twenty forth book, the hilariously titled Something Borrowed, Someone Dead is due out later this year). Seemingly unfazed by a body turning up everywhere she goes, Agatha still can’t handle being rejected by friends and is still mooning over her erstwhile paramour, James Lacey. To cheer herself up, she gets her hair did and nobody is surprised when the super charming Mr John (the titular Wizard) is revealed to have a dark side and then turns up dead.
This is a flimsy effort, even by the Agatha Raisin series lightweight standards. Beaton publishes under several different pseudonyms, and publishes with a regularity which makes James Patterson look like George RR Martin, so it’s inevitable that you’re going to get a duff entrant somewhere along the way. This feels rushed, it’s super short and and the plot machinations are artlessly crammed in. One good thing is Agatha’s sometime shag, the baronet Charles Fraith, is her sidekick on this one, as Lacey is absent for the whole book. And it looks like that little triangle will continue, adding some much needed variety.
However, that is not enough to disguise a book where the identity of the killer is obvious from the second they appear, where there is absolutely no craft or skill to the detective work (literally every revelation is through lucky guesses or random coincidences) and where there’s very little differentiation in character voices. Pull your finger out, Beaton.