cover image Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death

Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death

M. C. Beaton. St. Martin's Press, $17.95 (201pp) ISBN 978-0-312-08153-9

In this highly promising launch to a new mystery series, Beaton turns from the adventures of her Scottish policeman Hamish Macbeth to introduce the redoubtable Agatha Raisin. At 53, Agatha, whose personality is a piquant combination of brusque competence and fallibility, sells her London public relations firm to retire to the picturesque Cotswold village of Carsely. Determined to gain acceptance among the villagers, the undomestic Agatha enters a local bake-off. The judge, Reg Cummings-Brown, not only snubs her entry but later dies, poisoned by cowbane in Agatha's killer quiche. Of course Agatha is innocent: her ``homemade'' entry came from a Chelsea delicatessen. Knowing news of her cheating will light up the village, Agatha hopes to save face by proving Reg was murdered, even though the police think it was all a ghastly accident. But was Reg or Agatha the target? And why would anyone want to kill the popular Reg, whose wife was only one of ``quite a lot of ladies . . . sobbing into their handkerchiefs'' at the inquest? While the murder is occasionally overshadowed by Agatha's settling-in problems, Beaton's ( Death of a Snob ) playful depiction of village life makes it all a delicious romp. ( Dec.)