Recently married to James Lacey, the witty and fractious Agatha Raisin quickly finds that marriage, and love, are not all they are cracked up to be. Rather than basking in marital bliss, the newlyweds are living in separate cottages and accusing each other of infidelity. After a particularly raucous fight in the local pub, James suddenly vanishes-a bloodstain the only clue to his fate-and Agatha is the prime suspect.
Determined to clear her name and find her husband, Agatha begins her investigation. But her sleuthing is thwarted when James's suspected mistress, Melissa, is found murdered. Joined by her old friend Sir Charles, Agatha digs into Melissa's past and uncovers two ex-husbands, an angry sister, and dubious relations with bikers. Are Melissa's death and James's disappearance connected? Will Agatha reunite with her husband or will she find herself alone once again?
In her 11th appearance (after 2000's Agatha Raisin and the Fairies of Fryfam), irrepressible amateur sleuth Agatha Raisin has, alas, lost her sense of humor. Finally married to the love of her life, neighbor James Lacey, Agatha soon realizes that what she hoped would be a happy modern marriage in the idyllic Cotswold village of Carlsey is anything but. First, James explodes with anger when she turns his laundry pink, then expresses vehement disapproval when she serves a Marks & Spencer's prepared lasagna for dinner. Finally, when each is sure the other is having an affair, James goes missing, leaving only blood stains behind. Determined to find him, Agatha and her friend, Sir Charles Fraith, begin an investigation that leads them to the discovery of the body of Melissa Sheppard, James's suspected mistress. Delving into Melissa's past life reveals two ex-husbands and an estranged sister, all with motive to kill. Beaton has been praised for bringing the traditional British cozy into the 21st century, but an up-to-date village setting is not enough. Without the wit and humor of prior outings that made the characters human, Agatha is unforgivably and inappropriately rude and sharp-tongued, the parsimonious Sir Charles is repetitively stingy beyond belief and James is just unreal. Stereotypical minor characters further disappoint. This one is strictly for invested fans. FYI:Beaton is also the author of Skeleton in the Closet (Forecasts, Jan. 8) and the Hamish Macbeth series.