Back in summer, wanting to keep my reading light, after enjoying the charming The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor, I found myself reaching for Agatha Raisin and the Wizard of Evesham by M. C. Beaton, the next book in Beaton’s long-running, cosy-crime series. (Just a note: while each book is a self-contained mystery, there is the continuing character arc for Agatha running through them all, therefore I recommend checking out the first book, Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death, if you’re unfamiliar with the series). Now to my thoughts!
When our smart dressing, retired-PR executive Agatha Raisin to her horror discovers a few grey hairs in her immaculate brown bob and a home dye kit turns it purple, she is forced to place herself in the hands of the local hairdresser, Mr John, who is deemed a wizard by the local ladies. But it is not just his magical skills with hair that has the ladies flocking to him, he is also a handsome, charming man, who is always ready to listen to ALL their problems. It even seems he has designs on our Agatha, but things are cut terribly short, as he is fatally poisoned!
It is time for our favourite, bumbling, amateur-sleuth to get investigating! While Mr John was a very dishy fellow, it also appears it might have been a rather dodgy one too: wooing all the ladies; finding out all their secrets and possibly blackmailing them?! Our Agatha soon has a list longer than her arm of his female clients who could be after revenge or to silence him forever. But with her own brief and recent romantic entanglement with him, it is her the police suspect, which puts even more strain of her friendship with the usually cheerful Detective Sergeant Wong.
Thankfully the lovely and dependable Mrs Bloxby is always on hand to offer sympathy and support, although her not-so dependable ‘friend’ Roy makes an appearance from London, too. But with the grumpy James Lacey away on holiday (yay!), it instead falls to Agatha’s other on-off love interest Sir Charles Fraith to do the bulk of the investigation with her (yay!). Unfortunately I didn’t find his rakish behaviour so amusing in this book, perhaps because our poor Aggie is feeling very low. On the other hand she is very nice to him either.
However what I did love is how together they are like two bulls in a china shop! Without the steady, guiding hand of James Lacey, Agatha goes off at full speed poking her nose in where it is certainly not wanted; riling up the suspects, and speaking and doing before she thinks! As always highly entertaining for us, but dangerous for her, especially as in this mystery she finds herself the prime suspect and many of actions only seem to be digging a bigger hole for herself! There was a lot of face planting in this book!
All in all, while not my favourite of the series, I thought Agatha Raisin and the Wizard of Evesham, was a short, quick and super fun read, that I managed to polish off in one lazy Saturday in the garden. This is now one of my go-to-series for comfort and next up I have Agatha Raisin and the Witch of Wyckhadden, which I hope to get to very soon. ⭐⭐Good read.
I’d love to hear your thoughts: Have you read this? Or have you read any of the other Agatha Raisin books?
This was book #4 for my 10 Books of Summer Reading Challenge 2020.