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Agatha Raisin and the Wizard of Evesham Mass Market Paperback – Dec 15 1999

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (Dec 15 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312970625
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312970628
  • Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 1.5 x 16.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 118 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #602,631 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Amazon

"She was a stocky middle-aged woman with good legs, a round face and small bearlike eyes which looked suspiciously out at the world. Her hair had always been her pride, thick and brown and glossy."

That description, which could also fit Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie, tells us almost everything we need to know about Agatha Raisin, M.C. Beaton's smartly updated Miss Marple, who does most of her amateur sleuthing amidst the glowing stone villages of England's Cotswold district. Cozy without being the least bit cute, Beaton's books about this tough little Raisin cookie are well-made and smoothly oiled entertainment machines, working unexpected changes on familiar turf.

It is indeed her prideful hair that leads Agatha onto the trail of murder in her eighth adventure, when a charming hairdresser called Mr. John repairs her disastrous home dye job, then makes what appear to be romantic overtures. Love will not blossom here though, as some time later Mr. John is discovered dead in his chair, the victim of a Christie-like rare poison. Was the hairdresser also a collector of dirty secrets? Or was his killer just having a bad hair day? Trust Agatha and Beaton to solve it all in style, complaining all the way of course.

Previous Agatha Raisin outings include Agatha Raisin and the Wellspring of Death, Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death, Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage, and Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener. --Dick Adler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

It doesn't take long for Agatha Raisin, the touchy heroine of the series of catty English cozies by the prolific Beaton (see Death of an Addict, above), to turn a bad hair day into a mini-crime wave. In an attempt to get rid of the gray, Agatha accidentally colors her hair purple. Soon she finds herself in the capable hands of Mr. John, a hairdresser with a devoted following in nearby Evesham. Tinting and styling aren't his only tricksAwith his deep blue eyes and sympathetic nature, he coaxes all sorts of confidences out of his clients. Even the tough Agatha half falls under his spell, although she has an excuse since she's heartsick over neighbor James Lacey, who's left her alone while he goes on holiday. But when several of Agatha's neighbors appear terrified of Mr. John, her fellow amateur sleuth Sir Charles suggestsAalmost hopefully, in his summer doldrumsAthat the hairdresser might be a blackmailer. Agatha agrees to set herself up to catch Mr. John in the act, but the suspect dies of poisoning before he can take the bait. Fearing she might be on a killer's shortlist herself, Agatha sets out to find the murderer. Beaton masterfully describes the annoyances and ego deflations suffered by the middle-aged Agatha, as well as the summertime blues caused by unusually hot weather. But the plot, which itself seems to suffer from heat exhaustion, isn't terribly plausible, and could have used a dose of the wide-eyed Detective Sergeant Bill Wong, who barely shows up here. Agatha's fans will take her any way they can get her, but they won't leave this one feeling fully satisfied.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on July 30 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Agatha Raisin's love life is in a mess . . . even though she's found a great hair dresser, Mr. John (the wizard of Evesham). James Lacey is away and isn't staying in touch. Mr. John is quite delicious in Agatha's eyes, but the frightened reactions of other women to Mr. John's name make Agatha suspicious. Out on a date with Mr. John, she finds her resistance melting. But Sir Charles Fraith (whom she saved from death in Agatha Raisin and the Walkers of Dembley and with whom she had a one-night stand in Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist) also wants to date "Aggie" and talks her into a joint investigation of Mr. John. Soon, Agatha is extravagantly throwing money and herself at the wizard . . . but she has some benefit because her hair has never looked better.

All of this fun is interrupted when Mr. John is poisoned. Agatha and Charles up their investigations . . . and also draw danger to themselves. They also draw more than the usual ire from the police, including Bill Wong who is being watched very carefully lest he play favorites with Agatha.

This is a confused Agatha. She makes fewer good decisions than usual and is clearly adrift emotionally. For those who like to think of Agatha as the next thing to Super Woman, this book will be a disappointment. If you don't like hair-based humor, this book also won't excite you.

Part of the appeal in this book comes from knowing how attached some women get to a given hairdresser. Turning that sometime attachment into a humorous mystery story is a good idea.

Detecting with Sir Charles isn't quite as much fun as detecting with a friendly James Lacey. There are also fewer romantic dreams for Agatha to relate.
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By L Smith on June 26 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In the 8th book in the Agatha Raisin series, Agatha turns to a "wizard of a hairdresser" to repair the damage she has caused to her hair with a home coloring kit. The hairdresser, Mr. John, is good-looking and quickly charms all of his clients. Agatha soon falls under his spell, and spills her confidences to him. When several of his clients appear to be afraid of him, and then he is found dead, Agatha begins to be suspicious that he was murdered. Sir Charles Fraith, a friend of Agatha's from previous books, suggests to Agatha that Mr. John may have been blackmailing some clients, and one of them killed him to stop the blackmail. Agatha and Charles set out to discover the murderer, before Agatha gets more than just a bad haircut.
I am a huge fan of the Agatha Raisin series and I highly enjoyed this installment. Noticeably absent in this book is Agatha's on-again, off-again love interest, James Lacey and I since I am not a huge fan of his character, I was glad he was on holiday. Overall, this is a wonderful book to read if you like cozy mysteries, or want to laugh aloud at some of the troubles with being a middle-aged, single woman.
The first book in the series is "Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death". Enjoy!
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Format: Hardcover
Though I remain a staunch supporter of the Agatha Raisin series, its plot staples (Agatha's unrequited love for James, her feeling displaced in the Cotswolds, her battles with weight and the signs of old age) are wearing thin. In the Wizard of Evesham, there is not even the tinge of humor that marked the first few entries in the Agatha series. I read this novel in the dashed hope that M C Beaton would finally make Agatha fuller character. Yet Agatha persists in coming across as two-dimensional, a cardboard cutout.
As for the "mystery," it fell flat. Rather than taking a truly active role in the storyline, Agatha blunders through the story. It hardly seems in character that a tough businesswoman would be such a victim in any aspect of her life. Elements from past novels were recycled (Agatha buying catered food, passing it off as her own. Agatha "solving" a crime by placing herself in the killer's hands.)
If Agatha must remain a cardboard figure, why not explore the lives of the others in the village of Carsley? Though the vicar's wife, Mrs. Bloxby, is made to seem a paragon of Christian charity and humility, I sense each time she appears a more sinister side could be lurking just beneath the surface. It is the mark of a truly poor book when a secondary character draws a reader's interest more than the titular main character.
Let's have more and BETTER Agatha Raisin.
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By A Customer on March 17 1999
Format: Hardcover
Agatha Raisin is bit depressed over her lost relationship with her former fiancé. However, finding some gray hairs makes Agatha even more despondent. A hair dye leaves her with a purple haze on top of her head. Agatha turns to the highly regarded Mr. John, owner of a nearby hair salon, to work miracles. John succeeds, but Agatha is a bit concerned that his customers reveal their darkest secrets to the brilliant stylist. Agatha wonders how John uses this information.

A few days later, Agatha and her friend Charles finds John extremely ill and he consequently dies from a toxin deliberately placed inside his vitamin capsules. The police notice discrepancies between the stories told by Agatha and Charles (a friend), making the duo prime suspects in the poisoning of John. Agatha begins to investigate and soon learns that John was blackmailing his clients. Now all Agatha has to do is uncover which one of these patrons decided to stop paying.

The return of Agatha Raisin, amateur sleuth extraodinaire, is always a treat and M.C. Beaton does not miss a beat with her newest entry. AGATHA RAISIN AND THE WIZARD OF EVESHAM is vintage Raisin as the story line is interesting and filled with several twists, including a fabulous right angle ending. Agatha remains a somewhat vulgar, intelligent, but vulnerable heroine, who cannot resist a mystery. If there is anything to criticize it is the not going anywhere tango with James (her former fiancé), which needs resolution one way or another. Still that remains a very minor intrusion that occurs after the prime tale is finished, leaving this novel as another fabulous English cozy by the great M.C.Beaton.

Harriet Klausner
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