I’ve always loved M.C. Beaton’s Agatha Raisin series for two reasons: grumpy Agatha, with her beady little eyes and unending hunt for the right man, neither of which impedes her ability to solve the mystery at hand, and Beaton’s send up of public relations, Agatha’s former career.
Hiss and Hers is the latest addition to the series, but it didn’t do much for me this time. PR takes a few headslaps in the form of Roy Silver, Agatha’s former assistant who’s still working in PR and is an inveterate publicity hound, and Agatha’s eyes are still beady while she hunts for the killer of her latest object of desire, a gardener name George. However, George is a womanizing lout, so I didn’t care who killed him, and Agatha’s mercurial feelings about her ex-husband James and on again, off again relationship with Sir Charles Fraith were wearing rather than funny.
The title of the book comes from George’s ugly demise: Agatha finds his body with a bag over its head, a bag that had contained adders that bit him to death. Eeeew. So that’s the Hiss. The Hers are the many, many women George has romanced, right under Agatha’s nose. She apparently didn’t notice because she was so busy chasing after him herself (some detective).
Has Agatha finally run her course? I know that there are a lot of mystery readers who can’t stand her, and after reading this one I’m finding it hard to defend her. Are you a faithful Agatha reader, and if so, what do you think?