After finishing the hefty Anna of Kleves: The Queen of Secrets by Alison Weir last month, I reached for Agatha Raisin and the Witch of Wykhadden by M. C. Beaton, the next book in Beaton’s long-running, cosy-crime series and my go-to series for comfort and a bit of fun. The last book Agatha Raisin and the Wizard of Evesham wasn’t my favourite, so I was hoping this one would be back to its usual form.
When our smart dressing, retired-PR executive Agatha Raisin is left with bald patches in her usually glossy brunette bob, due to a vengeful hairdresser from her previous investigation, she flees from her little cottage in the quiet Cotswold village of Carsely to the coastal Wyckhadden. Being a run-down, windswept, out-of-season seaside resort this seems the perfect place to hide away while her lost locks return, before she faces her handsome, former fiancée, neighbour James Lacey.
Agatha takes a room at the elegantly faded Garden Hotel, which has a colourful cast of elderly guests in permanent residency: the upright Colonel Lyche; his adoring admirer Daisy Jones; the tall masculine Miss Jennifer Stobbs and her timid friend Miss Mary Dulsey; and crabby Harry Berry. Despite herself Agatha starts to enjoy the companionship of her fellow, aged guests, and they even introduce her to the local witch, Franchine Juddle, who’s hair tonic has Agatha’s tresses begin to flow again… well that is until the witch is found bludgeoned to death!
No surprise, Agatha is the one to find the victim and is at the top of the police’s suspect list, after an earlier incident involving the vandalisation of her fur coat. So of course Agatha needs to start investigating to clear her name, whilst also hoping to win back the attention of her new beau inspector Jimmy Jessop. While her new friends at the hotel might seem odd but innocuous enough, the deeper Agatha delves the more dirty secrets and powerful motives emerge. This is soon turns into a treacherous search for a killer before they have chance to strike again!
Oh I am very pleased to say this was definitely a return to form for Beaton. The mystery was jolly good fun and had plenty of twists and turns along the way. I also loved seeing Agatha spending time with her new, aged friends at dinner, dances and the theatre, playing Scrabble, and doing makeovers on them, too. Of course I missed some of the old faces from Carsely, however it was also great fun to see our Aggie with a new love interest, while her two old flames James Lacey and Sir Charles Fraith are left stewing and wondering what she is up to!
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Agatha Raisin and the Witch of Wykhadden by M.C. Beaton, which was another quick, easy, fun and comforting read, and it certainly ranks as one of my favourites from the series, so far. Good read
Now I’d love to hear your thoughts: Have you read this? Or have you read any of the other Agatha Raisin books?