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Beating About the Bush: An Agatha Raisin Mystery

Review

Beating About the Bush: An Agatha Raisin Mystery

Private detective Agatha Raisin returns, complete with her chic West End wardrobe, spike heels and sharp tongue.

In BEATING ABOUT THE BUSH, Agatha has been hired by Albert Morrison to look into suspected industrial espionage at a factory that produces state-of-the-art electronic batteries. Looks can be deceiving, though. Agatha’s occasional lover, Sir Charles Fraith, has taken a financial interest in the company, but he has his doubts. The normal 9-to-5 activities seem to become quite a different story after 5:00 when the company is locked down and the armed guards arrive.

"Agatha’s zany adventures never fail to amuse.... BEATING ABOUT THE BUSH is predictably delightful --- a snowy afternoon snuggle by the fire."

The deeper they dig, the more it appears that nothing is as it seems. Morrison’s stunningly beautiful wife is none other than a harpy with a tongue even sharper than Agatha’s. There are Russians coming and going at night at the loading dock, and Agatha strikes up an unlikely companionship with the woman’s pet donkey, Wizz-Wazz. Security guards lurk menacingly whenever Agatha and her assistant, Toni Gilmour, leave the conference room for bathroom breaks where they are otherwise confined to look over records.

A closer examination of those records raises their suspicions even more, and when Morrison’s longtime assistant, Mrs. Dinwiddy, goes missing, Agatha and Toni find themselves quite literally beating about the bushes in search of her body. They find her, killed by a blow to the head shaped very much like a hoof print. All clues point to Wizz-Wazz, who is summarily sentenced to death by the factory’s owner. Agatha has another theory as to what happened, and calls on her former London public relations colleagues to publicize the plight of the donkey and forestall its execution.

In a truly M. C. Beaton madcap plot, we find Agatha on the front pages of the local press and TV, defending the donkey. But just when we think everything is resolved, Agatha is kidnapped by Russian smugglers, and of course Sir Richard, who has become engaged to another wealthy trust fund woman, must come to her rescue.

Agatha’s zany adventures never fail to amuse. Her vanity is uppermost. She frets over an expanding waistline, tends to prefer a gin and tonic for lunch (or any time of day), and her eye is always peeled for any good-looking man. Her escapades and waspish tongue set her apart from the Miss Marples of the cozy genre.

BEATING ABOUT THE BUSH is predictably delightful --- a snowy afternoon snuggle by the fire. Fans of the series have further cause for celebration, as “Agatha Raisin” has returned for a third season on Acorn TV and a few selected PBS stations.

Reviewed by Roz Shea on December 6, 2019

Beating About the Bush: An Agatha Raisin Mystery
by M. C. Beaton

  • Publication Date: December 3, 2019
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN-10: 1250157722
  • ISBN-13: 9781250157720