Poor Agatha is still ensconced in her Carsely village cottage, but now at the end of her short-lived marriage to next-door neighbor James Lacey (Agatha Raisin and the Love from Hell, 2001), who’s left her to take holy orders at a French monastery. Her longtime friend and confidant Charles Fraith is also living in France following his marriage to a young Frenchwoman. Even after a trip to an island off the coast of Chile and the arrival of novelist John Armitage at the cottage once occupied by Lacey, Agatha finds her spirits low. Luckily, there’s the tonic murder of young Kylie Stokes, whose body, found floating in the river at nearby Evesham, rouses Agatha’s interest, especially after her detective friend Bill Wong informs her that Kylie had died of a drug overdose but that her body had been frozen after death. Kylie’s fiancé, Zak Jensen, whose father owns the local disco, claims that Kylie had been addicted but had quit. Decked out in blond wig and glasses, supposedly gathering material for a TV program on youth in the provinces, Agatha proceeds to nose around Kylie’s co-workers, friends, and family. She’s joined intermittently by neighbor Armitage, now her buddy, and manages to irritate Police Chief John Brudge thoroughly before another death and her own narrow escape lead to the killer.
The latest installment in this long-running series is as flaccid and downbeat as its heroine, with a puzzle barely intriguing enough to pull the reader to the finish. Lighten up, Agatha.