At the tail end of 2019 longtime mystery and romance author M.C. Beaton passed away. The outpouring from fans was immense, and the realization that her two most famous detectives, Agatha Raisin and Hamish Macbeth, had nabbed their last murderers hit me particularly hard—I was actually holding one of her books when I heard the news. However, Beaton apparently had one more trick up her sleeve, and her publisher soon revealed she had been working with a ghostwriter, R.W. Green, right up until her death.
For at least one more time, Agatha Raisin was back on the case.
Before I continued with her, I had one major concern: could Green make this book as fun as the rest of the series? Even the most chameleon of writers cannot imitate an author perfectly, and I knew it was vital for Green to make his own mark on the series. No doubt, Hot to Trot feels different different.
However, for all of his minor touches, Green has infused new life into this series. Agatha seems a little mellower, with her temper simmering in the background. She’s as cantankerous as ever, but her motivations feel clearer. Similarly, while she still tackles the mystery—in this case, the murder of her sometimes companion Charles Fraith’s new wife—with gusto, she takes fewer pub breaks. That’s not to suggest she doesn’t have a little fun now and again, but she seems much more interested in actually investigating the equestrian-themed murder. Green tosses in a few fieldtrips ranging from a private wedding to a show jumping event, allowing Agatha to show off her penchant for getting stuck in wicked situations while tracking suspects.
Green also didn’t shy away from making this a complete Beaton experience. The rest of her usual stable is on full display, with everyone from her detective agency employees to James Lacey to Bill Wong and, of course, Mrs. Bloxby and the other Cotswolds crew all making appearances. Everyone’s had slight adjustments, with former colleague and current pal Roy Silver feeling particularly refreshed—he’s far less whiny than he has been in many books.
Overall, for all the changes made, everything feels basically the same. There’s still a murderer on the loose, which remains a shockingly common occurrence in this tiny community. Agatha still gets flustered while nuking frozen meals in the microwave. And love—glorious, complicated love—abounds. Ultimately, this 31st book is a welcome addition to the series.
Title: Hot to Trot
Series: Agatha Raisin #31
Author: M.C. Beaton and R.W. Green
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: November 03, 2020
Classification: Cozy Mystery
Beaton’s Website | Publisher’s Page
Note: I received a free ARC of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.