Pushing Up Daisies by M.C. Beaton is the 27th book in the Agatha Raisin series (Available September 20, 2016).
There's a newcomer in the town of Carsely in the Cotswolds, and he's a retired New Scotland Yard Detective. What’s a private detective supposed to do when she feels her territory is being threatened?
Agatha Raisin, private detective, resident in the Cotswold village of Carsely, should have been a contented and happy woman. Business at her agency was brisk. It was a rare fine English autumn. But the serpent of jealousy was hissing in her ear. Agatha had been jealous of women before but never in one hundred years had she expected to be jealous of her best friend, Mrs. Bloxby, the vicar’s wife.
There was a newcomer in the village, Gerald Devere, a retired New Scotland Yard detective and, of all people, Mrs. Bloxby appeared smitten. She had dyed her hair a rich brown and had taken to wearing attractive clothes instead of her usual old droopy ones.
Gerald was in his early fifties. He had a slim athletic body, a clever mobile face, fine grey eyes and odd slanting black eyebrows. Agatha was determined to ensnare him. After all, she was unmarried and Mrs. Bloxby was married to the vicar. I will only be doing her a favour, thought Agatha. She surely does not want to break up her marriage.
But Gerald had caught Agatha snooping around his house and had been furious with her.
Agatha phoned her friend, Detective sergeant Bill Wong and said, “There’s a newcomer in Carsely. Says he’s retired New Scotland Yard detective. Know anything about him?”
“Yes. He was a detective inspector with an impeccable record. He could have risen higher but he decided to retire. Afraid of the competition?”
But Agatha Raisin is made of sterner stuff than to be afraid of professional or even personal competition. Seems the vicar’s wife, Agatha’s friend Mrs. Bloxby, has her eyes on Mr. Devere as well.
Agatha knows her strengths, and when a Lord Bellingham is found murdered, she deems it her responsibility to find out the identity of his murderer. Lord Bellington was a wealthy land developer who had wanted to turn the community garden into a housing estate. When Agatha attempted to convince him to abandon his plans and let the residents of the community keep its lovely garden, he had one question for her: “Do you think I give a damn about those pesky villagers?”
Finding his obituary in the newspaper two weeks later and a town that is more than ecstatic at his “passing” doesn’t surprise Agatha in the least. Still, she is in the investigation business, so…investigate she must. It isn’t long before she learns that the police have a number one suspect: Bellington’s heir and son, Damian. The death was no accident.
When Damian engages Agatha to find the real killer, she finds no shortage of suspects, including Damian himself. It seems that shortly before his death, Lord Bellington was considering changing his will. The investigation has become an enormous task.
Luckily, Agatha finds that she has help in her investigation from the very man who makes her heart beat faster—the newcomer in town: handsome, retired detective Gerald Devere.
But Gerald Devere has a bit of a “murder” problem of his own. He was seen kissing Peta Currie, another newcomer who, strangely and suddenly, has also been found murdered.
She pulled up behind the police cars. She and Toni got out and hurried forward to find their way blocked by a policeman at the entrance to the allotments. “Can’t go in there,” he said.
“But there are people in there,” protested Agatha.
“They were at the scene. Got to be interviewed.”
“What scene? What happened?” demanded Agatha.
“Clear off and mind your own business.”
They moved a little away. Then Agatha saw Mrs. Bloxby hurrying along the road accompanied by Gerald.
“Isn’t it terrible?” she said, coming up to them. “Poor Miss Currie.”
“What?” demanded Agatha. “Never say someone’s bumped her off.”
“It appears she had been struck on the back of the head and then the body was buried in one of the allotments,” said the vicar’s wife.
“How did you find out?” asked Toni.
“Two of the allotments holders phoned the vicarage as soon as the body was found,” said Mrs. Bloxby.
Agatha’s bearlike eyes fastened on Gerald’s face. “The police will want to know who was the last person who saw her alive,” she said.
“Naturally,” said Gerald stiffly. “That is normal procedure.”
Mrs. Bloxby put a hand on Agatha’s arm and looked steadily at her face. She doesn’t want me to talk about him kissing Peta last night, thought Agatha. Damn! Why?
Gerald is more than eager to help Agatha with both cases. The two of them, aided by her team of detectives, must untangle a mysterious web of intrigue in order to uncover the killer’s identity.
Agatha Raisin is a modern kind of detective who likes a good drink and has more than a passing interest in sex-capades. She’s sharp, although her methods of detection seem more like an annoying wasp buzzing around until she ferrets out more information than the standard cut-and-dry procedures.
With her gutsy attitude and her moments of self-doubt, Agatha Raisin is a compelling mix of low self-esteem & raging over-confidence. A perfect combination that makes her character relatable and the book a good cozy read.
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Kristen Houghton is the author of nine top-selling novels, including For I Have Sinned and Grave Misgivings, books 1 and 2 in the best-selling new series, A Cate Harlow Private Investigation. Book 3 in the series, Unrepentant: Pray for Us Sinners, will be published Fall of 2016. She is hard at work on a new series that features a paranormal investigator with distinct powers of her own.
Houghton is also the author of two non-fiction books and numerous short stories which appear in popular anthologies.