Even before the gentle mayhem kicks in, Agatha Raisin seems to be at the end of her rope. Retired once more from p.r. work (Agatha Raisin and the Wellspring of Death, 1998, etc.), she’s still living in Carsely village, still smarting from her rejection by her neighbor and sometime partner James Lacey, and now rendered half-bald by the ministrations of a vengeful hairdresser. No surprise, then, that she opts to adjourn for the winter to the seaside town of Wyckhadden, where the few elderly guests at the Garden Hotel spend their time at Scrabble and gossip. Daisy Jones, one of the group, is madly in love with Colonel Lyche and equally, but more platonically, addicted to sessions with a pair of local witches—Francie and her daughter, Janine. Their lotions help repair Agatha’s hair loss, but her gain is their grievous loss: Francie is found battered to death; Janine, drowned. Inspector Jimmy Jessop, on the case, is attracted to Agatha, yet soon after their engagement is announced in the Times, Jimmy finds Agatha in a compromising position with her old friend Sir Charles Frail, who’s just passing through town. Even when Agatha finally solves the mystery of the witches— deaths, the triumph brings her no joy, for reasons only the most patient readers will care to discover. Silly circumstances evoke equally silly behavior, not only from the quaintly eccentric locals but also from a detective who ought to know better.