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Review ❤️ The Dead Ringer by M.C. Beaton

October 16, 2018

the dead ringer mc beaton

The idyllic Cotswolds village of Thirk Magna is best known for the medieval church of St. Ethelred and its bells, which are the pride and glory of the whole community.

As the bell-ringers get ready for the visit of the dashing Bishop Peter Salver-Hinkley, the whole village is thrown into a frenzy. Meanwhile, Agatha convinces one of the bell-ringers, the charming lawyer Julian Brody, to hire her to investigate the mystery of the Bishop’s ex-fiancée: a local heiress, Jennifer Toynby, who went missing years ago and whose body was never found…

Meanwhile, the bodies in the village just keep on piling up: the corpse of Larry Jensen, a local policeman, is discovered in the crypt. Millicent Dupin, one of a pair of bell-ringing identical twins, is murdered near the church. And Terry Fletcher, a journalist and (briefly) Agatha’s lover, is found dead in her sitting room! Agatha widens her investigation and very soon her main suspect is the handsome Bishop himself. But could he really be behind this series of violent killings, or is it someone who wants to bring him—and his reputation—down?


Release Date: Oct 2, 2018
Series: Agatha Raisin Mystery
Book: 29
Publisher: Macmillan
Imprint: Minotaur Books
Price: $13.99


 

In the village of Thirk Magna in the Cotswolds, the bell ringers of the Church of St. Ethelred have a lot of practicing to do. Led by identical twins Mavis and Millicent Dupin, the ringers are preparing for a visit from their handsome bishop. Alf and Margaret Bloxby and Agatha Raisin, from the nearby village of Carsely are invited to the welcoming ceremony for the bishop. Agatha is initially attracted to, but then frightened by, the charismatic bishop and decides to look into the disappearance of his former fiancée who disappeared without a trace.

I have read the Agatha Raisin series from the very beginning. Most of her books can be read as standalones, but if you are interested in the series, I would recommend starting either at the beginning or at least with a book earlier in the series. I have enjoyed almost every book in this series, but I was very disappointed in this installment. As a fan of the series,  I hate giving the book such a low rating, but neither the author nor Agatha are at the top of their game. The main plot sounds interesting, but the narrative doesn’t flow logically and side stories are all over the place.  Much of the dialogue is choppy and new readers would not get to know any of the supporting characters from the lack of depth in this book.

Agatha’s spunk is gone, and her usual sharp tongue seems especially bitter and angry. Agatha has always been on the lookout for the perfect man in her life, but so is so focused on that in this book that she barely investigates the young woman’s disappearance or a series of murders which occur throughout the book.  She only investigates when she starts feeling guilty about taking the client’s money, so the story becomes disjointed and hard to follow. 

There are some entertaining parts in the book and I always appreciate Agatha’s friend Mrs. Bloxby’s insightful observations. I was also interested to see various exchanges between Agatha and Charles, both for what is said and left unsaid. It gives some insight into Charles’s feelings, but his actions still often leave me baffled. There is a very surprising turn of events at the very end of the book. It came out of the blue, so I’m not sure if it’s a good or a bad thing for Agatha. I would be interested in reading the next book to find out, but either way, I hope the author gives us the “old Agatha” who takes charge and gets things done.

~ Christine

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