Review

A Spoonful of Poison: An Agatha Raisin Mystery

by M. C. Beaton

What more charming setting could there be than a tiny stone
village in the heart of the English Cotswolds? M. C. Beaton has a
winning recipe when she adds in amateur sleuth Agatha Raisin and
her supporting staff of old friends, current employees and
hopefully a future beau. Nothing slows Agatha Raisin down when it
comes to romance.

“Agatha’s Perception of beauty….was prompted
by her hormones. If only Agatha hadn’t seen that handsome
man…”

When Agatha is approached to handle a bit of public relations
for a neighboring town’s annual church fete, she decisively
says no --- until she catches sight of George Selby. Then she
quickly changes her mind. Despite the fact that business at her
detective agency is overly brisk, she is about to let a handsome
man add to her already hectic schedule. Hoping to be looked at as
more than a PR person by this green-eyed bachelor, Agatha jumps in
with enthusiasm and a head full of wonderful ideas to make this
year’s fundraiser at St. Odo the Severe in Comfrey Magna
something to remember. In that goal, she is successful. Someone
laced several jars of jam entered in the local competition, which
causes a couple of deaths and a number of very sick attendees. Now
Agatha’s detective agency has a new case: catch the
killer.

Keeping George in her crosshairs, Agatha enlists the aid of her
youngest detective, Toni, to help her track down the person who
poisoned the church fete jam. She soon finds that there is no
shortage of suspects. Several of the town’s women seem to
have plausible motives, including winning the affections of George
Selby. The little hamlet of Comfrey Magna has more secrets than it
has citizens, and Agatha exposes a few that put her in grave
danger. It appears possible that the killer has struck again when
one of the ladies who Agatha and Toni interviewed ends up dead in
what looks like a suicide. But is it?

Before the tragedy that ruined the village celebration, the
church had raked in much more than it had in past years, a large
enough sum that the vicar worries where to put it for safe keeping.
Trouble follows the money, and Agatha ends up with even more on her
hands. Now she needs to find the killer and the missing loot.

Meanwhile, the cast of characters grows. Sir Charles Fraith,
whom Agatha blithely overlooks as a serious candidate for romance,
drops in on her now and then, occasionally spending the night at
her home. He may have even saved her life this time. At the very
least, he saved her some embarrassment. An ex-employee of the
agency, Jimmy, takes an interest in pretty young Toni, causing her
some uncomfortable moments. And a few others weave themselves in
and out of the story to complicate Agatha’s days and her
solving of the mystery.

A SPOONFUL OF POISON simply defines the British cozy. As the
tension ratchets up, so does the love interest level. And along the
way, readers are treated to a glimpse of the quaint countryside
that comprises the beautiful Cotswolds. It doesn’t get much
better than that.

Reviewed by Kate Ayers on February 18, 2011

A Spoonful of Poison: An Agatha Raisin Mystery
by M. C. Beaton

  • Publication Date: September 30, 2008
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN-10: 0312349122
  • ISBN-13: 9780312349127