Wednesday 10 February 2021

Guest Review: Hot to Trot by M.C. Beaton with R.W. Green

Private Detective Agatha Raisin immerses herself in the glittering lifestyle of the fabulously wealthy when Sir Charles Fraith is accused of murder - and Agatha is named as his accomplice!

A high-society wedding, a glitzy masked ball, and an introduction to the world of international show-jumping where the riders are glamorous, the horses are beautiful, and intrigue runs deep, leave Agatha with a list of suspects as long as a stallion's tail.

Sinister evidence then emerges that appears to seal Sir Charles's fate and Agatha must uncover the truth before a net of skulduggery closes around him and he loses his ancestral home, his entire estate, and his freedom. And if events weren't complicated enough... Agatha's ex-husband James Lacey is back in Carsely and back in Agatha's heart...

Review: This is the 31st book in the Agatha Raisin series from M. C. Beaton. Since she tragically passed away in 2019, this story was co-authored with her blessing by her friend R. W. Green. I have read a number of the books in this series and feel I have got to know many of the recurring characters; I was interested to see how they would be treated by a different writer. I am pleased to say that, in common with other Agatha Raisin mysteries, this tale had me captured from the start.

This story finds Agatha facing up to the fact that her old friend Sir Charles Fraith is about to be married to someone she considers totally unsuitable, and under strange circumstances. When Sir Charles and Agatha are named as the main suspects in a murder, she and her team set out to investigate and uncover the real culprit. Her sleuthing leads her into the world of horse riding and even on a glamorous trip to France. As the murder victim was so disliked by practically everybody, it seems that the list of suspects gets longer and longer the more Agatha digs. However, with Sir Charles looking ever more likely to end up penniless in prison, she is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery and clear his name.

I very much enjoyed this book and would recommend it to Agatha Raisin fans. However, having read a review by somebody who was new to the series and was confused by people and events in the story, I’m not sure that it works as a standalone; there is a lot of history between Agatha and other characters in the book that is obviously not explained, so I could sympathise with that reviewer. Personally, I found the number of potential murderers in this story quite difficult to keep up with, and I couldn’t work out who the culprit would turn out to be until near to the end, which I considered a positive aspect. It was good to see all the characters that I have enjoyed meeting in previous books popping up again. Agatha’s ex-husband, James, was back and seemed interested in rekindling their relationship; I could see that forming the basis of a future story in this series, if, indeed, there are to be any further additions.

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