Agatha Raisin is back on the case—only this time she’s investigating industrial espionage. For once, it appears that she’ll get to forgo the gruesome in favor of white collar crime at a local factory. However, it’s not long before a body turns up and all evidence points to a freak accident involving a mad donkey. But Agatha knows better, and she’ll stop at nothing to clear the donkey’s name and catch the real killer.
Author M.C. Beaton, in her thirtieth novel with her cantankerous amateur sleuth, has crafted one of the best entries in the series in a good long while. Still as bold and brash as ever, Agatha crashes into a murder investigation based on some seemingly-outlandish inferences. Yet Beaton has struck gold, almost leaning into the absurdity—after all, what company would trust Agatha with matters relating to espionage?—and the result is a book that maintains all the best parts of her cozy formula while shaking things up. The series feels reinvigorated.
Part of this stems from a compelling change of scenery. Agatha has performed investigations away from her Cotswold home in the past, and these have suffered from attempts to force her regular cadre of pals into the action. Here, Beaton offers a mysterious factory that occupies much of her time, stretching her into the unfamiliar, while keeping her near her charming village. This gives ample opportunity for Mrs. Bloxy, Bill Wong, Roy Silver, and all the rest to drop in at any time—and they certainly do.
But better than that are Agatha’s attitude and outlook. She’s just as assertive as ever with plenty of high-drama vulnerability, but she’s also funnier than she’s been in some time. Beaton has peppered in her usual views on life, often bemoaning even the slightest offences, but she keeps Agatha on her toes, dishing out the quick wit that makes her lovable even at her lowest. Whether she’s stumbling into clues or plotting another healthy-living kick to impress a potential suitor, she does it with a twinkle in her eye and annoyance in her heart.
A solid continuation to a long series, Beating About the Bush keeps Aggie on her throne as the Temper-Queen of the Cozy.
Title: Beating About the Bush
Series: Agatha Raisin #30
Author: M.C. Beaton
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: December 03, 2019
Classification: Cozy Mystery