Hiss and Hers

August 9, 2013 - Hiss and Hers (M.C. Beaton). Private Investigator Agatha Raisin is fond of the phrase "snakes and bastards" as a way to express irritation. It's perfectly fitting for this entry in the series since the plot features both snakes and bastards.

Here, middle-aged Agatha finds herself competing with several other women in Carsley for the affections of the new gardener. George Marston has no problem tending to Agatha's flowers and shrubs, but he prefers to plant his kisses on other women in the village. Agatha considers most of these other woman beneath her. She sees her toughest competition as Jessica Fordyce, an actress on a popular British soap opera who has a weekend cottage in the village.

George begins to suspect that someone is a little too crazy about him. One day, he asks Agatha how to recognize a psycho. A day or two later, George turns up dead in a compost pile with a bag of snakes tied around his head. George's sister hires Agatha to investigate, and she quickly finds that passion can be just as poisonous as the adders that killed George.

Perhaps a slight improvement over the previous entry, but, it generally seems to meander more than necessary. The usual cast of characters is all here, including Agatha's ex-husband, James, her friend and sometimes lover, Sir Charles Fraith, and her two young apprentices, Toni and Simon. There's a sense of familiarity here, so it's comfortable to get reacquainted with these characters. But, that familiarity bleeds through to a plot structure that's really starting to wear out its welcome.