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Agatha Raisin and The Witch of Wyckhadden
Agatha Raisin Series #9

by M C Beaton

      After a hair-raising date with a murderous stylist and a bottle of depilatory, Agatha has decided to lie low in the dreary coastal resort of Wyckhadden while her hair grows back. Trouble is, not only is she immured in a fossilized hotel with five Scrabble-playing ancient residents, but also nothing seems to be sprouting. When she hears that a local witch sells bottles of hair-restorer, she is keen to visit, and the stuff works its magic. Trouble is, the witch is found murdered soon after and even Agathaís burgeoning romance with police inspector Jimmy canít stop her being the prime suspect. She has to turn sleuth again, and keep Jimmy interested in her as more than just another murderer...

Agatha is on top form in another fine entry in this very enjoyable series. This time, the satire is aimed at English seaside towns in winter, home to many retired people and not much else. Every aspect of life in one of these places seems to be under the microscope here, and I found myself constantly chuckling that it could be so spot-on. Once again Ms. Beaton has found a totally different comic seam to mine and come up with another winner, combining sharp satire with a cozy ambiance and a good plot. As ever there is also an engaging whodunit to enjoy which I failed to guess (a number of red herrings) and the usual splendidly concise pacing which had me read the book in just two sittings. This is one of the stronger entries in this series, and I continue to marvel at the force of nature that Agatha is, an inimitably realistic protagonist who combines toughness with vulnerability, sympathy with belligerence. Highly recommended, and probably unique.

The Book

Constable (Constable & Robinson)
29 June 2006
Contemporary Crime - South East, UK
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The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2006
© 2006