The Blood of an Englishman: An Agatha Raisin Mystery
In between cases and in between men, private detective Agatha Raisin attends the holiday pantomime in the nearby Cotswold village of Winter Parva. While less than impressed with the theatrical performance, the wily sleuth shakes aside her boredom and comes to life when one of the performers, Bert Simple, a local baker who plays an ogre on stage, is killed in a dastardly and gruesome manner. Although the village is a small one, there is an abundant number of residents who appear to have had ample reason to want Bert dispatched to the great beyond.
At first glance, it appears that Bert had a happy relationship with his wife, Gwen, and son, Walt, both of whom worked at the bakery with him. Is Gwen really the saint that everyone thinks she is, or does she have a secret side that few have glimpsed? By the same token, is Walt content to spend his days in a small-town bakery, or did he have bigger dreams that he's been unable to realize thanks to his father's interference?
"Filled to the brim with familiar, loveable characters whom readers have come to know, it fulfills every requirement of a cozy mystery and falls easily into the category of a comfort read."
One of the prime suspects, Gareth Craven, the producer of the pantomime, hires Agatha to get to the bottom of the crime and clear his name when tongues begin to wag and fingers begin to point in his direction. Unfortunately for her client, however, Agatha isn't so sure he isn't the culprit behind the crime. Still, she's willing to suspend her suspicions and perform a thorough and exhaustive investigation.
As usual, Agatha immediately fixes her attention on any attractive man who enters her orbit. During this case she finds not one, but two, possible prospects for her affections. John Hale, an English teacher at the local high school, and Paul Newton, a local farmer, both seem to Agatha to be candidates not only for a romance, but also possibly for marriage.
Agatha isn't the only one with marriage on her mind, however. Her good friend and investigative companion, Sir Charles Fraith, has recently become engaged to be married. Although the impending nuptials put Agatha's nose out of joint, she isn't so disturbed that she eschews his help in solving the murder of Bert Simple.
As Agatha draws nearer to the truth behind Bert's demise by implementing her usual bumbling tactics, the murderer realizes that he or she must get rid of Agatha as soon as possible if there's to be any hope of diverting suspicion and remaining undiscovered. Agatha's life grows eminently more expendable with each passing moment. Will she and her merry band of detectives solve the crime before a murderer strikes again, or will Agatha become another in a long list of casualties?
THE BLOOD OF AN ENGLISMAN is the 25th Agatha Raisin mystery by M. C. Beaton. In spite of being one in a long line of novels, it keeps the magic that is Agatha alive. Filled to the brim with familiar, loveable characters whom readers have come to know, it fulfills every requirement of a cozy mystery and falls easily into the category of a comfort read.
During the course of the book, readers will find themselves roaming the beautiful landscape of the Cotswolds, partaking of familiar rituals like afternoon tea and hearty meals eaten in pubs, and enjoying the local gossip that makes small English towns and villages both familiar and frustrating. All the while, you’ll be hurrying to figure out “whodunit” before the turn of the final page.
Reviewed by Amie Taylor on September 19, 2014