When Mrs. Gloria French moved from London to the Cotswold village of Piddlebury, the over-the-top widow initially impressed the villagers with her dedication to the Women's Institute and her ability to successfully tackle one church project after another. The saintly woman even carved time out of her busy schedule to read to the elderly. Unfortunately, Gloria wasn't quite what she appeared to be.
It didn't take long for the villagers to realize that Gloria was a scammer and a con artist. Ever in need and eager to borrow items from her neighbors, she would then refuse to return the goods, asserting that they were her own. No matter that most of the items were of little value, the hard feelings that were created poisoned everyone's opinion of the newest addition to the village.
Unfortunately for Gloria, she pushed her luck too far when she stole a case of homemade elderberry wine from a church Bring & Buy. One of the bottles, marked "Very Special," turns out to be very special indeed as it contained the poison that killed Gloria when she unwittingly drank it.
"SOMETHING BORROWED, SOMEONE DEAD is the 24th Agatha Raisin mystery and, just like its predecessors, provides plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing."
When the murder has an adverse effect on the village, Jerry Tarrant, head of the Piddlebury parish council, hires Agatha Raisin to solve the mystery of the murder and restore order to the village. Agatha eagerly accepts the offer and begins investigating immediately. Unfortunately, the clues in this case are neither abundant nor apparent, and Agatha and her associates struggle to make progress with their investigation.
While she's pursuing the flagging investigation, Agatha is also consumed with the affairs of her ex-husband, James Lacey. Word has it that James is about to become engaged to a local lady in the village of Carsely, and Agatha is feeling a bit miffed. When the engagement falls through, however, and James begins spending time with Agatha's young, beautiful assistant, Toni Gilmour, Agatha is fit to be tied.
James isn't the only man on Agatha's mind, though. As usual, she has developed an intense infatuation with the newest single fellow on the scene, Brian Summer, a chemistry teacher from another town. Much to Agatha's chagrin, however, Brian scurries away each time she nears.
Just as the investigation begins to progress, the residents of Piddlebury close ranks on Agatha and her cohorts and banish them from the village. It seems that they've decided a madman from out of town committed the murder and they no longer want Agatha digging into their personal business. With all doors closed to her, Agatha has no choice but to return home and review the information she's already gathered. Will Agatha be able to gain reentry to the village and find the murderer of Gloria French, or has she finally stumbled upon a case she cannot solve?
SOMETHING BORROWED, SOMEONE DEAD is the 24th Agatha Raisin mystery and, just like its predecessors, provides plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing. While Agatha never seems to learn from her mistakes, one can't help but love her as she searches endlessly for the love she so deeply desires and does her best to bring murderers to justice.
Reviewed by Amie Taylor on September 27, 2013