Release Date: Dec 3, 2019
Series: Agatha Raisin Mystery
Imprint: St. Martin’s Press
Private Investigator Agatha Raisin and her assistant Toni Gilmour are looking into a possible case of industrial espionage at a local battery factory. She and Toni come across what appears to be a severed leg and report it to the police. Agatha becomes a laughing stock when the leg is discovered to be fake. However, things get serious when one of factory employees is murdered, and Agatha is dismayed when the police say the prime suspect is a donkey! Agatha believes the woman is the victim of a two-legged killer and is determined to find the real murderer and bring that person to justice.
Beating About the Bush is the thirtieth book in this long-running series. I am a huge fan of the earlier books in the series, but the most recent books have not been up to Beaton’s usual standards. I’m pleased that this book, while not as good as those earlier books, is a big improvement over the last couple installments. It starts out a little rough, but gets better after the first few chapters. Agatha hits her stride by the middle of the book and is much more like the “old Agatha” – tough and opinionated, but intelligent and resourceful. She and Toni continue to bring out the worst in each other for much of the book, but I enjoy the moments when they connect. There are also some great scenes with Agatha and her friend Mrs. Bloxby, who unlike Toni brings out the best of Agatha.
The murder mystery is interesting and I enjoyed Agatha’s questioning of all the various witnesses and suspects. The parts of the story involving the donkey are silly, but are entertaining. Some of the things may be unbelievable if this was real life, but are typical situations for Agatha to get herself into. I was surprised by the solution to the murder once it was revealed. In the romance department, it’s no surprise that Agatha is once again at cross-purposes with Sir Charles Fraith. The two can’t seem to recognize and admit their feelings for the other. In addition, Charles can’t help put be tempted by wealthy women looking for a title since their money would help him run his large estate. Agatha continues to become infatuated with any good-looking man who turns her head. Her latest man, Chris, seems to be a good guy, but it’s too soon to tell. The latest developments in the love lives of both Agatha and Charles are left up in the air when the book ends.
There is enough information about important events that occurred in prior books that new readers or those who haven’t kept up with the series won’t feel lost. New cozy readers who enjoy the book will definitely want to pick up some of the first books in the series and get to know Agatha from her first days in the Cotswolds, Fans of the series will be glad to catch up with Agatha and her latest case.