Kissing Christmas Goodbye

November 29, 2008 - Kissing Christmas Goodbye (M.C. Beaton). Agatha Raisin returns for another adventure in the continuing British cozy series. In this outing, Agatha is contacted by a wealthy widow who believes that someone in her family is plotting to kill her. They have good reason as the woman has said she intends to cut them out of her will and give the family's land and money to start a technical college. The people in town don't much like her either, as the woman pretty much owns the town and, if she sells, they're all out.

Agatha is skeptical about the woman's fears until she and her friend, Sir Charles Fraith, go to the woman's house for a family weekend. It does not go well, especially after the woman is killed by what appears to be a poisoned salad. Agatha is then hired by the victim's daughter-in-law to find out whodunnit.

The body count for this book totaled, I think, seven. There's the original victim, Phyllis Tamworthy. Then, her gardener died when he drank some poisoned homemade wine. After that, a potential suspect was pushed into a quarry by a jealous lover during an apparent witchcraft ritual. So, that's three.

But wait. There's more. In addition to being a murder victim, it also seems that our Phyllis was a murderer. Agatha and her young protégé, Toni, suspect that, years ago, Phyllis killed a woman who was apparently her husband's true love. There's also a possibility that Phyllis killed her former teacher. Add in two suicides, and you have a pretty high body count for Agatha.

In fact, the number of dead people is about the only thing that stands out in this book. Otherwise, it's pretty run of the mill: Agatha solves the crime with a sudden flash of insight; her holiday dinner is a success despite an unexpected blizzard; and ex-husband James pops in just long enough for Agatha to realize that the thrill is gone. Kind of like this series. I'll stick with it for another book or two but, after that????