The Deadly Dance (Agatha Raisin Series #15)by M. C. Beaton
Infuriated that her holiday was ruined by a mugging, Agatha Raisin decides to open up her own detective agency. The romance-minded sleuth is thrilled by visions of handsome fellow gumshoes and headline-making crimesbut soon finds the only cases she can get are a non-glamorous lot of lost cats and an errant teenager. But when a wealthy divorcée hires
Infuriated that her holiday was ruined by a mugging, Agatha Raisin decides to open up her own detective agency. The romance-minded sleuth is thrilled by visions of handsome fellow gumshoes and headline-making crimesbut soon finds the only cases she can get are a non-glamorous lot of lost cats and an errant teenager. But when a wealthy divorcée hires the agency to investigate a death threat against her daughter Cassandra, Agatha thwarts a vicious attack on the heiress bride. Now Agatha is in hot pursuit of the culprit. But when the groom's father turns up dead, Agatha must untangle a growing list of suspects, from Carsely's quiet village lanes to Paris' most fashionable streets. Soon the willfully undaunted Agatha is in trouble with French and British police; on the outs (again) with old friendsand dead in the sights of a murderer.
M.C. Beaton continues to delight fans of her wildly popular mystery series with The Deadly Dance.
“It's been 40 years since Dame Agatha Christie's death, and in that time, reviewers have often bestowed her mantle on new authors. M.C. Beaton is one of those so honored, and she deserves it. When it comes to artfully constructed puzzle plots and charming settings, Beaton serves it up…this is a classic British cozy plot, and a setting done with panache. Maybe M.C. Beaton really is the new ‘Queen of Crime.'” The Globe & Mail
“It is always fun to read an Agatha Raisin mystery, but the latest installment freshens up a delightful series by converting the heroine from amateur sleuth to professional without changing her caustic wit. Agatha remains crude and rude even to clients, but also retains that vulnerability that endears her to readers.” Midwest Book Review
“A very satisfying change for the smart woman of mystery with a new cast of colorfully realized characters blending with a few old favorites.” Mystery Lovers Bookshop
“The story was first-rate and moved along with many twists and turns that kept me always guessing…I read this book in one sitting, which I think speaks for itself.” I Love a Mystery
“Fans of Agatha Raisin will be absolutely delighted at this latest addition to the series. Ms. Beaton has surpassed herself in The Deadly Dance.” Reviewing the Evidence
Read an Excerpt
The thing that finally nudged Agatha Raisin into opening her own detective agency was what she always thought of as the Paris Incident.
Made restless by the summer torpor blanketing the village of Carsely in the Cotswolds, Agatha decided to take a week's holiday in Paris.
She was a rich woman, but like all rich people was occasionally struck by periods of thrift, and so she had booked into a small hotel off Saint-Germain Des Pres in the Latin Quarter. She had visited Paris before and seen all the sights; this time wanted only to sit in cafes and watch the people go by or take long walks by the Seine.
But Paris, after the first two days, became even hotter than Carsely and her hotel room did not have any air-conditioning. As the heat mounted to 105 degrees Fahrenheit and she tossed and turned on her damp sheets, she discovered that Paris never sleeps. There were two restaurants across the road with outside tables, and, up until one in the morning, the accordion players came around to get money from the diners. Agatha, as she listened to another rendering of "La Vie en Rose," fantasised about lobbing a hand grenade through the window. Then there were the roar of the traffic and the yells of the tourists who had drunk not too wisely. Later on, as they felt not too well, she could hear moans and retching.
Nonetheless, she decided to see as much of Paris as possible. The Metro was cheap and went all over the place.
On the fourth day of her visit, she went down into the Metro at Maubert-Mutualite. She sat down on a hard plastic seat on the platform and pulled out her subway map. She planned to go to W. H. Smith on the Rue deRivoli and buy some English books.
As she heard the train approaching, she stuffed the map back in her handbag, flipped open the doors of the carriage with that silver handle which had so bemused her when she had first tried to board, and went inside, aware that someone was crowding behind her, and at the same time feeling a sort of tremor reverberating from her handbag up through the shoulder strap.
She glanced down and saw that her handbag was open again and that her wallet was missing.
Agatha stared wrathfully at the man who had crowded behind her. He was of medium height, white, with black hair, wearing a blue shirt and blue jeans.
"Here, you!" Agatha advanced on him. He nipped out of the carriage and into the next one, with Agatha in pursuit. Just as she was leaning forward to grab him and the train was moving out, he wrenched open the doors of the carriage and escaped onto the platform, leaving Agatha, who did not have the strength to do the same thing, being carried furiously away to the next station....
....It took much more money to set up a detective agency than Agatha ever dreamt it would. Brought up on Raymond Chandler--type movies, she had assumed that one sat in an office and waited for the beautiful dame with the shoulder pads to come swaying in---or something like that.
She quickly found out by surfing the net that detective agencies were supposed to offer a wide range of services, including all sorts of modern technology such as bugging and de-bugging, photographic or video evidence and covert and electronic surveillance.
Then someone would be needed to man the phones while she was out of the office. Agatha was shrewd enough to know now that one-woman operations were for novels. She would need to invest heavily in employing experts if she expected to get any return.
Once she had found an office in the centre of Mircester, she put advertisements in the local newspapers. For the photographic and video evidence, she hired a retired provincial newspaper photographer, Sammy Allen, arranging to pay him on a free-lance basis; and she secured the services of a retired police technician, Douglas Ballantine, under the same terms to cope with the electronic stuff.
But for a secretary, Agatha wanted someone intelligent who would be able to detect as well.
She began to despair. The applicants were very young and all seemed to be decorated with various piercings and tattoos.
Agatha was just wondering whether she should try to do any secretarial work herself when there came a knock at the door of the office. The door did not have a pane of frosted glass, which Agatha would have found more in keeping with the old-fashioned idea she had of detective agencies.
"Come in," she shouted, wondering if this could be her first client.
A very tall, thin woman entered. She had thick grey hair, cut short, a long thin face and sharp brown eyes. Her teeth were very large and strong. Her hands and feet were very large, the feet encased in sturdy walking shoes, and the hands were ringless. She was wearing a tweed suit which looked as if she had had it for years.
"Please sit down," said Agatha. "May I offer you some tea? Coffee?"
"Coffee, please. Two sugars, no milk."
Agatha went over to the new coffee machine and poured a mug, added two spoonfuls of sugar and placed it on the desk in front of what she hopefully thought was her first client.
Agatha was a well-preserved woman in her early fifties with short, shining brown hair, a good mouth, and small bearlike eyes which looked suspiciously out at the world. Her figure was stocky, but her legs were her finest feature.
"I am Mrs. Emma Comfrey."
Agatha wondered for a moment why the name was familiar and then she remembered that Mrs. Comfrey was her new neighbour.
Agatha found it hard to smile spontaneously but she bared her teeth in what she hoped was a friendly welcome. "And what is your problem?"
"I saw your advertisement in the newspapers. For a secretary. I am applying for the job."
Mrs. Comfrey's voice was clear, well-enunciated, upper-class. Agatha's working-class soul gave a brief twinge and she said harshly, "I would expect any secretary to help with the detective side if necessary. For that I would need someone young and active."
Her eyes bored into Mrs. Comfrey's thin face and flicked down her long figure. "I am obviously not young," said Mrs. Comfrey, "but I am active, computer-literate, and have a pleasant phone manner which you might find helps."
"How old are you?"
"But very intelligent," said Mrs. Comfrey.
Agatha sighed, and was about to tell her to get lost when there came a timid knock at the door.
"Come in," called Agatha.
A harassed-looking woman entered. I need a detective," she said.
Mrs. Comfrey took her coffee and moved over to a sofa at the side of the office.
Vowing to get rid of Emma as soon as they were alone again, Agatha asked, "What can I do for you?"
"My Bertie has been missing for a whole day now."
How old is Bertie?"
"Have you been to the police? Silly question. Of course you must have been to the police."
"They weren't interested," she wailed. She was wearing black leggings and a faded black T-shirt. Her hair was blonde but showing dark at the roots. "My name is Mrs. Evans."
"I fail to see . . ." Agatha was beginning when Emma said, "Bertie is your cat, isn't he?"
Mrs. Evans swung round. "Oh, yes. And he's never run away before."
"Do you have a photograph?" asked Emma.
Mrs. Evans fumbled in a battered handbag and took out a little stack of photographs. "That's the best one," she said, standing up and handing a photograph of a black-and-white cat to Emma. "It was taken in our garden."
She sat down beside Emma, who put a comforting arm around her shoulders. "Don't worry. We'll find your cat."
"How much will it cost?" asked Mrs. Evans.
Agatha had a list of charges but that list did not include finding stray cats.
"Fifty pounds plus expenses if we find him," said Emma. "I am Mrs. Raisin's secretary. If you will just give me your full name and address and telephone number."
Numbly Agatha handed Emma a notebook. Emma wrote down the particulars.
"Now, you go on home," said Emma, helping her to her feet, "and don't worry about a thing. If Bertie can be found, we'll find him."
When the door closed behind a grateful Mrs. Evans, Agatha said, ":You're rather high-handed, but here's what I'll do. Find that cat and you've got a job."
"Very well," said Emma calmly, tucking the notebook into her capacious handbag. "Thank you for the coffee." And that'll be the last I'll hear from her, thought Agatha.
Copyright 2004 by M.C. Beaton
Meet the Author
M. C. Beaton has been hailed as "the new Queen of Crime." She is The New York Times bestselling author of the Agatha Raisin mysteries, including As the Pig Turns and Busy Body, set in the English Cotswolds, as well as the Hamish Macbeth mysteries set in Scotland. She has also written historical romance novels and an Edwardian mystery series under the name Marion Chesney. Before writing her first novels, Beaton worked as a bookseller, a newspaper reporter, a fashion critic, and a waitress in a greasy spoon. Born in Scotland, she currently divides her time between Paris and a village in the Cotswolds. She was selected the British Guest of Honor for the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention in 2006.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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It was very distracting to read with so many errors This should have been a good read but fell short of the mark I also agree with another reviewer that noticed Charles had been tricked into marriage by a women who claimed she was pregnant with twins In this book he is divorced with twins Who actually wrote this book!
The latest offering in the increasingly listless Agatha Raisin mysteries, this book completely lacks the sparkle and fun of the author's earlier offerings in the series. Ms. Beaton also is so lacking in respect for her readers that she doesn't even bother to do research. Characters who are in Alcoholics Anonymous cheerfully break fellow AA members' anonymity to outsiders, which is completely unthinkable in the organization, in order to 'help' solve the mystery. I doubt I'll be picking up any more of the Agatha Raisin books, since recent ones (including this) have been a major yawn.
Not proofread and not like Beatons other books....seriously disappointed
Good story but many of her books have lots of errors and this one is the worst so far.
I really like the way MC Beaton writes, her descriptions of people and places, but unfortunately this e-book was so full of mistakes, typing, grammar and even the story of the characters, like Sir Charles Fraith who in the past book, The Case of the Curios Curate apparently came to see Agatha looking his old self telling her that he was about to divorce and that his wife had lied about her pregnancy so she was not having any babies. In this book they repeated the visit of Sir Charles to Agatha looking his old self and telling that his wife has divorced him because she met a young and rich french guy and she plan to merry him, and his twins, Sir Charles's twins are going to live in France with their mother; he also said that his hair was thinning before because he had cancer and went into chemotherapy but now he is fine. I wonder how come he was chubby and thin hair if he had cancer and was under treatment? Also I would like to know why they change his story? I also wonder if the Editorial have no proof editing, because every one of the e-books have so many mistakes that is a shame, since Ms Beaton writing can be very funny and interesting. I hope this can be corrected or I don't think of reading more of this books.
I think it's natural for Agatha to move on in her life at this point in the series and am glad to see her doing it. However, the number of characters that were thrown into this book made it a little confusing and I found myself looking back through the pages to remind myself who everyone was. Agatha is maturing a little and that is slowing down some of the craziness, but after reading the whole series this summer in a row, I am happy for her!
I did enjoy reading this latest Agatha book and thought it was perky and full of action; however, I keep waiting for the ex-husband James to show up in Agatha's life, so she will mend her broken heart by reconnecting with him or moving on with her life. I miss the old vain Agatha.
Agatha is at the top of her game! She never disappoints and is so HUMAN! No pious perfect person here! She is so utterly believable that it makes this character so utterly lovable!!!
I have read all of M. C. Beaton's Agatha Raisin books, but was a tad disappointed in this one. It did have a good plot and was well written; however, I miss the old Agatha. It was only towards the end of the book that the vain, sometimes deceptive and brash Agatha seemed to surface. The book was more about Emma than Agatha. I hope Beaton's next book will be more like the first ones where Agatha got herself into ridiculous situations because of her vanity and bullheadedness. Can't wait for Beaton's next Agatha Raisin book!
After years of solving homicides for the fun of it, Agatha Raisin opens up her own detective agency in Mirceaster, England following being mugged while vacationing in France. She hires her new neighbor Emma Coffrey to serve as her secretary. Business is booming as people hire Agatha to get evidence in divorce cases and finding missing people and pets......................... Wealthy socialite Mrs. Laggat-Brown hires Agatha to uncover who threatened her daughter Cassandra if she marries her fiancé Jason Peterson. On the night of the engagement party, someone with a gun aims it at either the mother or daughter. The ex-husband of her client, who served time for fraud, arrives to offer comfort and flirts with Agatha. Meanwhile Emma has a crush on Agatha¿s friend Sir Charles and decides to poison her boss to get her out of the way. A killer enters Agatha¿s abode while she is away and drinks the poisoned coffee that Emma prepared for Agatha, and dies. Emma is arrested and the dead murderer turns out to have IRA connections. Agatha still has to solve who wanted Mrs. Laggat-Brown her daughter, and Agatha dead. .......................... Its is always fun to read an Agatha Raisin mystery, but the latest installment freshens up a delightful series by converting the heroine from amateur sleuth to professional without changing her caustic wit. Agatha remains crude and rude even to clients, but also retains that vulnerability that endears her to readers. M.C. Beaton employs red herrings, false clues and misdirection, and cleverly designed twists that keep the reader revising who they believe the killer is.................................... Harriet Klausner