This time, the feisty sleuth stumbles upon the victim of an unnatural death in Cotswold village's famous natural spring. Who was the unlucky corpse? The Ancombe Parish Council chairman-and the only uncommitted member voting on whether to allow the Ancombe Water Company to tap into the town's spring. Add ex-fiance James, watery politicians, and slippery entrepreneurs to the mix, and you have Agatha up to her neck in a murky murder mystery.
Cotswolds snoop Agatha Raisin (Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist, 1997, etc.), still smarting from her broken engagement to neighbor James Lacey, returns in yet another cozy featuring backbiting provincial villagers. The Ancombe Water Company is trying to negotiate a deal with the parish council to bottle water from a historic village spring, a move that has sharply divided the council. When the body of Robert Struthers, the council chairman who had not yet committed on the issue, is found head-down in the spring, Agatha, who's doing PR for the water company, and James each decide to investigate. Bitterness keeps them apart, and 50-something Agatha is romanced by the much younger Guy Freemont, a company director. Beaton performs deftly, with Agatha pining for James while weighing the pros and cons of village life. Particularly entertaining elements include James's undercover stint in a militant environment group and, in a finale that follows a second murder, the introduction of a new side to Mrs. Bloxby, the vicar's usually plodding wife.