Friday, December 13, 2019

Beating About the Bush by M.C. Beaton: Reading Room Review

Another great Agatha Raisin mystery from M.C. Beaton. Agatha is true to form in this 30th book in the series, being in the wrong place at the right time, beating the police to a solution, irritating both friends and others (but still managing to remain a friend), seeking love in all the wrong places, and comparing herself to others instead of realizing what an accomplished and attractive woman she is. Our Agatha is quite the force, and it's always an adventure seeing her push her way through obstacles that would hinder her in solving a murder. All the sidekicks we've come to love are there--Toni and Patrick at work, Mrs. Bloxby, Roy Silver, Bill Wong, and the on-again, off-again lover Charles Fraith. The ensemble is in perfect form for proving an accident is a murder and a donkey is innocent.

Agatha Raisin's detecting firm is hired by a battery-making factory to investigate possible industrial espionage. Indeed there are secrets running rampant at the company, but it has little to do with espionage. Agatha and Toni Gilmour are working the case, as all other personnel at the detecting agency are busy with other cases. They are immediately confronted with a strange atmosphere at the company, with odd employees and a shady HR director. When a death occurs on the grounds of the factory, a donkey named Wizz-Wazz is blamed, but Agatha becomes a champion for the donkey, as she is sure that the death was murder and not an accident. Agatha has fallen for some different sorts over the years, but her affection and support for Wizz-Wazz is a delightful dedication to behold, and it has connections to her childhood wish for a donkey. Just when readers think Agatha is becoming rather crotchety in her middle-age, she shows a soft side that endears her to us all over again. 

The ongoing search for a man who will fulfill her dreams and complete her life is still going strong in book 30. Agatha is an accomplished businesswoman and astute detective, but she is terrible at choosing men. She and Sir Charles Fraith have been involved on and off, and they seem to be great together at their best, but something always breaks them apart. And, now Charles is engaged, again. Agatha isn't too worried because Charles' engagements never seem to make it to the alter, but this fiancée might prove a bit more determined. Of course, Sir Charles' butler doesn't want him to get married to anyone, so he might find a way out for his long-time employer.

This series is a great mixture of murder mystery and Agatha's personal mishaps. Readers cheer for her to find her happy ending, but we also have to laugh at how she bungles it. M.C. Beaton has managed to keep readers entertained and thrilled through thirty books now. Beating About the Bush is as much fun as all the other Agatha adventures. I hope that there are many more to come.

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