Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Mystery Book Review: Love, Lies and Liquor by M. C. Beaton

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of Love, Lies and Liquor by M. C. Beaton. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.Love, Lies and Liquor by M. C. Beaton

Love, Lies and Liquor by M. C. Beaton
An Agatha Raisin Mystery
St. Martin's Minotaur (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-312-34910-6 (0312349106)
ISBN-13: 978-0-312-34910-3 (978312349103)
Publication Date: September 2006
List Price: $22.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Agatha Raisin is lonely. Busy as she is with her detective agency and the meetings of the Carsely Ladies' Society, she still misses her ex-husband, James Lacey, so she welcomes his return to the cottage next door with her usual triumph of optimism over experience---especially when he invites her on holiday at a surprise location that was once very dear to him. With visions of a romantic hideaway in Italy or the Pacific dancing in her head, Agatha goes off happily with James to ... Snoth-on-Sea, in Sussex.

While James may have fond memories of boyhood holidays there, Snoth-on-Sea has seen better days, as has the once-grand Palace Hotel, now run-down and tacky and freezing cold. Nor do the other guests have much to recommend them, especially the brassy honeymoon couple, Mr. and Mrs. Jankers, who pick a fight with Agatha in the dining room. But trouble has a way of following Agatha even if romance does not: Just as she and James are preparing to flee to warmer climes, Geraldine Jankers is found dead on the beach---strangled with Agatha's scarf. So much for Agatha's holiday fantasies: Not only is it time to put her detective skills to work, but the police are not even sure that she'll be allowed to leave town.

Review: Love, Lies and Liquor is the 17th mystery in this long-running mystery series by M. C. Beaton featuring private investigator Agatha Raisin.

Agatha thinks she's off on a romantic holiday with ex-husband James, but the resort town on the south English coast to which he takes them has seen better days and the hotel at which they are staying seems to be literally falling into the sea. After one of the guests is murdered in the middle of the night, Agatha finds herself initially accused of the crime when her scarf is used as the murder weapon. Hired by the dead woman's husband to locate the killer, Agatha learns there is no shortage of suspects who would have liked to see the obnoxious woman dead.

Love, Lies and Liquor is more about Agatha lamenting the sad state of her love life than about Agatha discovering the circumstances surrounding a mysterious death. The important men in her life take her for granted, and what's worse, she seems to allow it to happen. For an investigator who should know better, she agrees to meet a total stranger for dinner, a good-looking man who happens to be dressed smartly, and even that date ends with disastrous results. To say she has problems with the opposite sex would be an understatement.

But there's still that unsolved murder, and though the police are willing to close the case, Agatha isn't. Through sheer determination, and what seems to be more than a little bit of good fortune, she manages to name the guilty party.

Beaton is among the best authors of the traditional mystery and Agatha Raisin typifies the modern English village sleuth. But Love, Lies and Liquor strays a bit too far off course here. Agatha needs to spend more time thinking about her case than considering when, where, and with whom she'll be able to wear her filmy clothes.

Special thanks to St. Martin's Minotaur for providing a copy of Love, Lies and Liquor for this review.

Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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