BOOK REVIEW

          DEADLY DANCE - B.C. BEATON

After years of solving homicides for the fun of it, Agatha Raisin opens up her own detective agency in Mirceaster, England following being mugged while vacationing in France. She hires her new neighbor Emma Coffrey to serve as her secretary. Business is booming as people hire Agatha to get evidence in divorce cases and finding missing people and pets.

Wealthy socialite Mrs. Laggat-Brown hires Agatha to uncover who threatened her daughter Cassandra if she marries her fiancÚ Jason Peterson. On the night of the engagement party, someone with a gun aims it at either the mother or daughter. The ex-husband of her client, who served time for fraud, arrives to offer comfort and flirts with Agatha. Meanwhile Emma has a crush on Agatha's friend Sir Charles and decides to poison her boss to get her out of the way. A killer enters Agatha's abode while she is away and drinks the poisoned coffee that Emma prepared for Agatha, and dies. Emma is arrested and the dead murderer turns out to have IRA connections. Agatha still has to solve who wanted Mrs. Laggat-Brown her daughter, and Agatha dead.

Its is always fun to read an Agatha Raisin mystery, but the latest installment freshens up a delightful series by converting the heroine from amateur sleuth to professional without changing her caustic wit. Agatha remains crude and rude even to clients, but also retains that vulnerability that endears her to readers. M.C. Beaton employs red herrings, false clues and misdirection, and cleverly designed twists that keep the reader revising who they believe the killer is.

REVIEWED BY HARRIET KLAUSNER

DO NOT REPRINT WITHOUT PERMISSION OF THE REVIEWER, HARRIET KLAUSNER

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