An old-fashioned English Christmas must wait for murder.
Agatha Raisin has hired bright young Toni Gilmour to help find lost cats and dogs, the most boring part of her detective agency’s business. When Toni proves to have a lucky touch, Agatha helps set her up on her own, away from her dysfunctional family. At first Agatha ignores a letter from wealthy, tightfisted widow Phyllis Tamworthy, claiming that since she’s told her family members that she’s planning to cut them out of her will, one of them is planning her death. Agatha and her freeloading pal Charles are at the mansion, together with most of the family, when Phyllis dies from hemlock poisoning. Daughter-in-law Alison hires Agatha to find the killer despite the rest of the clan’s disapproval. Although they’re all suspects, there are others equally happy to see the widow dead, including some sullen villagers who dabble in magic. When the gardener perishes from wine infused with hemlock, Agatha and Toni, tossed off the crime scene by the police, visit Phyllis’s hometown and discover still more motives for murder. Agatha sets herself up to smoke out the killer and ends up pulling off a huge Christmas bash.
Toni is a breath of fresh air, and devoted fans will be glad to see the back of Agatha’s tiresome suitor James (Love, Lies and Liquor, 2006, etc.), in this otherwise run-of-the-mill mystery.