“The Wellspring of Death” opens in the village of Ancombe, as we toggle back and forth between a young mother taking her child for a walk in a baby carriage and an Ancombe Water Company tanker truck careening through the village. Thankfully, the truck narrowly misses flattening both villager and her child, but we are immediately aware that the villagers have a slight problem with the new water company that is in town to tap their spring water and sell it on the open market.
By the way, and this might just be me, but who else thought that having a skull as the logo on the water bottle might be a bit of bad luck? Even if it is a cartoon version of the one on the spring, which has water flowing out of its mouth.
The big controversy is that the spring owner has already sold her water rights to Ancombe, but the Parish council is split on whether or not to grant access to allow the tanker trucks passage through the village. Robert Struthers (Tom Chadbon), the Chairman of the Parish Council, has the deciding vote on the issue. He says he will think about his decision overnight and let them know in the morning, which we all know is tantamount to signing his own death warrant.
Sure enough, said Chairman is found with his head smashed in, lying next to the offending spring. Enter our two bumbling police officers, DC Bill Wong (Matt McCooey) and DCI Wilkes (Jason Barnett). Wong tells Agatha Raisin (Ashley Jensen) that Wilkes “has got this new strategy that he saw on an episode of Morse. He’s not declaring it murder, and he’s keeping the forensic evidence quiet, hoping to catch the killer.”
This is about the time Agatha gets involved, taking Roy Silver (Mathew Horne) up on his offer of a PR job to promote Ancombe Water. Part of the reason she jumps in to investigate is her competitive streak, especially when she finds out that her neighbor James Lacey (Jamie Glover) is trying to solve the murder with his girlfriend Mary Fortune (Daisy Beaumont). Since Agatha has a huge crush on James, she wants to show them up and solve it herself.
Since James is clearly unavailable, Agatha has a bit of a love interest in this episode. She actually ends up making James quite jealous, so perhaps there is hope for them yet. She takes up with the extremely handsome and slightly younger Ancombe Water owner, Guy Freemont (Jules Night), much to the displeasure of his girlfriend Portia (Ruby Thomas). Guy doesn’t want to help Agatha investigate, though, so she ropes Gemma (Katy Wix) into helping her.
Some of the quirks of the murder are that the police think the killer ran a vacuum cleaner over the dead man after he was murdered, since his body was free of all forensic evidence, save one clue: a Persian cat hair found on the body. It’s this clue that sends the two-man—two-policeman—comedy team to lean on a local farmer who outwardly opposed the water company’s access to the village roads.
The Wilkes and Wong show kicks into high gear when they show up at the farmer’s home and Wilkes slaps down a photo on the tractor, upside down. When the farmer asks what it is, Wilkes tells him that it is “a visual impression of an individual we believe played a pivotal role in the murder of Robert Struthers.” (Wilkes likes the word “murder” and always puts extra emphasis on it.) The policeman then proceeds to hold up the photo in his hand, asking the farmer, “Do you know this individual?” The individual in question, and the image on the photo, is a white Persian cat. You can imagine the look on the farmer’s face here.
Some notes about this week’s characters. We see a vulnerable side of Agatha in this episode—which is one of the ways in which her book and TV persona coincide. We don’t see a lot of Gemma, though, which is a shame. She’s one of the best sidekicks I’ve seen in a while. Her laidback personality and girl-next-door look is a great contrast to Agatha’s high energy and designer clothes.
Mrs. Josephs gets in a few good one-liners as the pub’s quiz moderator, especially when she gives Agatha a wink while asking the first pub question, which involves microwave meals (something Agatha is known for). Bill Wong’s puppy eyes for Agatha seem to have calmed down a bit. He’s not fawning over her this week and instead is just acting like a friend. Mary Fortune is acting a bit crazy as she overzealously investigates the crime, accusing almost every single villager of the murder. James seems to be slightly annoyed with Mary—a bonus for our Aggie.
Kerry Hammond loves all types of mysteries. She is a Book Reviewer and Blogger for Mystery Playground. Follow her on Twitter @kerryhammond88.