Beaton, M C - Agatha Raisin and the Day the Floods Came
The Agatha Raisin books have been popular for a long time in the US but after becoming a series on Radio 4, their UK publisher Constable and Robinson, have been printing the remaining titles as fast as they can. AGATHA RAISIN AND THE DAY THE FLOODS CAME, the twelfth in the series, was first published in the US in 2002. The remaining five books should be available in the UK by the end of 2006.
Agatha Raisin formerly owned a PR company but took early retirement to live in a cottage in the idyllic Cotswolds village of Carsely. Her previous cases have taken her all over the country and into Europe, all the while carrying on an on-off romantic relationship with her sleuthing partner and neighbour James Lacey.
Now Agatha is on her own; James now lives in France and her other sometimes partner Charles has recently married. After returning from a holiday on Robinson Crusoe Island she discovers her new neighbour is John Armitage a successful crime fiction writer.
On a visit to Evesham Agatha discovers the town has been flooded. The river is high and as she peers in she spots the body of a bride floating by. Worse still she recognises the body as being a young woman called Kylie whom she'd met briefly at her beautician's. Convinced that Kylie's boyfriend is guilty she begins to investigate. First aided by her ex-employee, Roy Silver, then John Armitage and lastly Charles she nearly comes to chilly end before the guilty party is caught.
Agatha Raisin is a prickly, insecure character whose method of investigation is to constantly interview suspects until finally someone thinks she's getting too close to the truth and makes a mistake. The mystery in this one is pleasantly complex, the setting is delightful and the pages fly by.
I particularly enjoy the Agatha Raisin books set in Carsely as the astute vicar's wife, Mrs Bloxby has a larger role and this one's no exception as Mrs Bloxby tries to help Agatha to not make a fool of herself again in her love life. At the end of the book, Agatha appears to have grown up a little in her personal life, whether this will last into her next adventure is another thing.
The Agatha Raisin books are rather addictive and I can't wait for the library to cough up AGATHA RAISIN AND THE CURIOUS CURATE.
Karen Meek, England