The pretty Cotswold village of Carsely, where 20-year residents are called "incomers," is the retirement choice of fiftysomething p.r. career woman Agatha Raisin, fulfilling a lifelong thatched-cottaga dream. Gruff, tough, but not stupid, Agatha begins to soften her image--to the extent of entering a spinach quiche in Carsely's annual "best quiche" competition, buying one in London to pass off as her own. It doesn't win--but is taken home by Mr. Cummings-Browne, the judge and a noted philanderer. He eats it and dies, to be found next morning by his snobbish wife Vera. The police pinpoint cowbane as the poison and call it an accident. But Agatha is sure there's murder afoot and nearly loses her own life before she proves it. A mildly entertaining look at insular village life, but Agatha never attains the exasperating charm of the author's Hamish Macbeth (Death of a Prankster, p. 500, etc.), and the rather bloodless puzzle is sidetracked by Agatha's ambivalence toward the lifestyle she's chosen. Placidly diverting.