At fifty-something, private investigator Agatha Raisin has never given up on love. With two failed marriages behind her, she's ever on the hunt for another man to provide the love and approval she so deeply needs. This time, the object of her desire is local gardener and handyman George Marston. A recent transplant to the fictional Cotswold village of Carsely where he plies his trade, George focuses particularly on serving lonely women of a certain age. In spite of his attraction to the ladies, Agatha fails to get his attention in a romantic way or even garner a date with this lothario, no matter how hard she tries.
"As always, M. C. Beaton presents us with an Agatha Raisin who manages to infuriate, amuse and solicit our deepest sympathies as we watch her blunder her way boldly through another murder mystery."
Hoping to entice George to take notice of her at a local charity ball, Agatha eagerly awaits his arrival, only to grow disenchanted when George fails to show. Not one to be thwarted, she heads to his house to see what's kept him, only to find him dead and buried in the compost pile in his back garden. While her anticipated romantic evening is ruined, Agatha consoles herself with the fact that there's a crime to be solved. She's determined to find out who’s behind the murder of her beloved George before the police do. Luckily, her employees and close friends are all eager to help her solve yet another case.
As Agatha and company start delving into George's past, they find a long line of scorned women left in his wake. Rather than narrowing the number of players on the field, the list of suspects only seems to grow exponentially. If Agatha had her way, the culprit would be Jessica Fordyce, an exceptionally attractive soap opera star who keeps a weekend home in Carsely. Unfortunately for Agatha, however, Joyce has an airtight alibi and denies ever being romantically involved with George in the first place. Still, something doesn't seem right with this supposed rival for George's affections.
As Agatha and her associates continue working on the case, they begin to meet with "accidents" and near misses that confirm they've come too close to the truth for someone's comfort. Obviously, that person wants to stop them in their tracks before they solve the murder, even if it means murdering again.
As always, M. C. Beaton presents us with an Agatha Raisin who manages to infuriate, amuse and solicit our deepest sympathies as we watch her blunder her way boldly through another murder mystery. Although Agatha is often an unsympathetic character with her brash behavior, tactless ways and willingness to behave in an unethical manner, readers are privy to the inner workings of her mind, which evoke sympathy for her misguided ways more than anything else.
Agatha continues looking for love in the most unlikely places. In spite of her inability to learn from past mistakes, one can't help but root for her to solve the mystery and, at the same time, find a man who will love her truly and deeply just the way she is.
Reviewed by Amie Taylor on September 21, 2012