Fifty-ish Agatha Raisin, the author's amateur second-string sleuth (Hamish MacBeth being the pro), has yet to feel comfortably settled in the Cotswold village of Carsely, where neighboring bachelor James Lacey eludes her romantic overtures and life is dull (Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death, 1992). The arrival of handsome vet Paul Bladen, however, provides a new object for the chase--until he dies of an injection meant for the horse he was about to operate on. Agatha is sure it was murder, not accident, and sets about talking to everyone who had dealings with Bladen, most of them women he was conning out of money for a never-to-be- built veterinary hospital--a scheme his partner, Peter Rice, seemed unaware of. Lacey, bored with the military history he's trying to write, joins in Agatha's detecting forays--proving to be considerably more adept than she. A second death and the kidnapping of Agatha's cats lead her, solo, to a near-fatal meeting with a killer. Clumsy plotting, a clutch of listless characters, and the singularly charmless Agatha Raisin--in one of Beaton's least attractive outings.