A Spoonful of Poison (Agatha Raisin Series #19)

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Overview

Cranky but lovable sleuth Agatha Raisin’s detective agency has become so successful that she wants nothing more than to take quality time for rest and relaxation. But as soon as she begins closing the agency on weekends, she remembers that when she has plenty of quality time, she doesn’t know what to do with it. So it doesn’t take much for the vicar of a nearby village to persuade her to help publicize the church fete—-especially when the fair’s organizer, George Selby, turns ...

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A Spoonful of Poison (Agatha Raisin Series #19)

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Overview

Cranky but lovable sleuth Agatha Raisin’s detective agency has become so successful that she wants nothing more than to take quality time for rest and relaxation. But as soon as she begins closing the agency on weekends, she remembers that when she has plenty of quality time, she doesn’t know what to do with it. So it doesn’t take much for the vicar of a nearby village to persuade her to help publicize the church fete—-especially when the fair’s organizer, George Selby, turns out to be a gorgeous widower.

Agatha brings out the crowds for the fete, all right, but there’s more going on than innocent village fun. Several of the offerings in the jam-tasting booth turn out to be poisoned, and the festive family event becomes the scene of two murders.

Along with her young and (much to her dismay) pretty sidekick, Toni, Agatha must uncover the truth behind the jam tampering, keep the church funds safe from theft, and expose the nasty secrets lurking in the village—-all while falling for handsome George, who may have secrets of his own.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Acclaim for M. C. Beaton and Agatha Raisin:

“Few things in life are more satisfying than to discover a brand-new Agatha Raisin mystery.” —-The Tampa Tribune

“[Agatha] is a glorious cross between Miss Marple, Auntie Mame, and Lucille Ball, with a tad of pit bull tossed in. She’s wonderful.” —-St. Petersburg Times

“Beaton has a winner in the irrepressible, romance-hungry Agatha.” —-Chicago Sun-Times

“Anyone interested in...intelligent, amusing reading will want to make the acquaintance of Mrs. Agatha Raisin.” -—The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“M. C. Beaton has a foolproof plot for the village mystery.” —-The New York Times Book Review

“[M. C. Beaton] is Britain’s successor to Dame Agatha Christie. If you’ve never read an Agatha Raisin novel, it’s time to start.... All of them are cunningly plotted, beautifully written, and more fun than you can imagine.” —-The Globe and Mail

“Outwardly bossy and vain, inwardly insecure and vulnerable, Agatha grows more endearing with each installment.” —-The Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Beaton’s Agatha Raisin series just about defines the British cozy.” -—Booklist

Publishers Weekly

When elderly Mrs. Andrews blithely jumps to her death off the tower of Saint Odo the Severe during a church charity event in the Cotswolds village of Comfrey Magna, LSD-laced jam proves to be the cause in bestseller Beaton's saucy 19th Agatha Raisin mystery (after 2007's Kissing Christmas Goodbye). Agatha joins the local authorities in the investigation, which focuses on the six women who contributed jam to the church fete, including wealthy Sybilla Triast-Perkins. Agatha and Toni Gilmour, her young detective-in-training, soon find unmasking the lethal jam poisoner complicated by Sybilla's sudden suicide and a murder connected to the theft of the fete's proceeds. Beaton's sly humor enhances the cozy-style plotting, while updates on Agatha's and Toni's respective romantic travails are delightful as ever. The open-ended resolution points to more madcap mayhem to come. (Oct.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
Agatha Raisin grudgingly agrees to help publicize a church fete for Vicar Arthur Chance, only to discover that what's really needed are her detective skills. Despite a cold reception from the vicar's wife, Agatha is happier about helping with the celebration after she meets handsome architect George Selby. It's not her fault that someone laces the jam at a tasting contest with LSD and a parishioner leaps to her death. When the vicar hires Agatha's agency to find the villain, she relies for help on her staff: Phil Marshall, Patrick Mulligan and especially her newest hire, bright young Toni Gilmour (Kissing Christmas Goodbye, 2007). Ever susceptible to a handsome face, especially since her breakup with long-running suitor James Lacey, Agatha finds it hard to suspect Selby even after it's suggested that his late wife's tumble down the stairs was no accident. The diverse village population includes a number of promising suspects, but none of them quite fills the bill. Agatha blows hot and cold with Selby-and with Toni, whose youth, good looks and success make her jealous. Shrugging off the village's collective cold shoulder, Agatha continues to dig for the truth, no matter how unpalatable. Agatha remains as resolutely unlovable as ever. Perhaps that makes her believable as a person, if not as a crime solver.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312349127
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 9/30/2008
  • Series: Agatha Raisin Series , #19
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

M. C. Beaton has been hailed as the “new Queen of Crime” (The Globe and Mail). Chosen as the British guest of honor at Bouchercon 2006, she is the author of eighteen previous Agatha Raisin novels, the Hamish Macbeth series, and an Edwardian mystery series published under the name Marion Chesney. Born in Scotland, she currently divides her time between Paris and the English Cotswolds.

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Read an Excerpt

A SPOONFUL OF POISON (Chapter 1)

MRS. BLOXBY, WIFE OF THE VICAR of Carsely, looked nervously at her visitor. “Yes, Mrs. Raisin is a friend of mine, a very dear friend, but she is now very busy running her detective agency and does not have spare time for—”

“But this is such a good cause,” interrupted Arthur Chance, vicar of Saint Odo The Severe in the village of Comfrey Magna. “The services of an expert public relations officer to bring the crowds to our annual fête would be most welcome. Proceeds will go to restore the church roof and to various charities.”

“Yes, but—”

“It would do no harm to just ask, now would it? It is your Christian duty.”

“I hardly need to be reminded of my duty,” said Mrs. Bloxby wearily, thinking of all the parish visits, the mothers’ meetings and the Carsely Ladies’ Society. Really, she thought, surveying the vicar, for such a mild, inoffensive-looking man he is terribly pushy. Arthur Chance was a small man with thick glasses and grey hair which stuck out in tufts like horns on either side of his creased and wrinkled face. He had married a woman twenty years his junior, Mrs. Bloxby remembered. He probably bullied her into it, she thought.

“Look! I will do what I can, but I cannot promise anything. When is the fête?”

“It is a week on Saturday.”

“Only about a week away. You are not giving Mrs. Raisin any time.”

“God will help her,” said Mr. Chance.

Agatha Raisin, a middle-aged woman who had sold up her successful public relations business to take early retirement in a cottage in the Cotswolds, had found that inactivity did not suit her and so had started up her own private detective agency. Now that it was successful, however, she wished she had more time to relax. Also, the cases which poured into the detective agency all concerned messy divorces, missing children, missing cats and dogs, and only the occasional case of industrial espionage. She had begun to close the agency at weekends, feeling she was losing quality time, forgetting that when she had plenty of quality time, she didn’t know what to do with it.

For a woman in her early fifties, she still looked well. Her hair, although tinted, was glossy and her legs good. Although she had small eyes, she had very few wrinkles. She had a generous bosom and a rather thick waist, which was her despair.

On Friday evening, when she arrived home, she fussed over her two cats, Hodge and Boswell, kicked off her shoes, mixed herself a generous gin and tonic, lit a cigarette, and lay back on the sofa with a sigh of relief.

She wondered idly where her ex-husband, James Lacey, was. He lived next door to her but worked as a travel writer and was often abroad. She rummaged around in her brain as usual, searching for that old obsession, that old longing for him, but it seemed to have gone forever. Agatha, without an obsession, was left with herself; and she forgot about all the pain and misery that obsession for her ex had brought and remembered only the brief bursts of elation.

The doorbell shrilled. Agatha swung her legs off the sofa and went to answer the door. Her face lit up when she saw Mrs. Bloxby standing there. “Come in,” she cried. “I’m just having a G and T. Want one?”

“No, but I’d like a sherry.”

Sometimes Agatha, often too aware of her slum upbringing, wondered what it would be like to be a lady inside and out like Mrs. Bloxby. The vicar’s wife was wearing a rather baggy tweed skirt and a rose-pink blouse which had seen better days. Her grey hair was escaping from a bun at the back of her neck, but she had her usual air of kindness and dignity.

The pair of them, as was the fashion in the Carsely Ladies’ Society, always called each other by their second names.

Agatha poured Mrs. Bloxby a sherry. “I haven’t seen you for a while,” said Agatha. “It’s been so busy.”

A brief flicker of guilt crossed Mrs. Bloxby’s grey eyes. “Have you still got that young detective with you, Toni Gilmour?”

“Yes, thank goodness. Excellent worker. But I think we will need to start turning down cases. I really don’t want to take on more staff.”

Mrs. Bloxby took a sip of sherry and said distractedly, “I knew you would be too busy. That’s what I told him.”

“Told who?”

“Mr. Arthur Chance. The vicar of Saint Odo The Severe.”

“The what?”

“An Anglo-Saxon saint. I forget what he did. There are so many of them.”

“So how did my name come up in your discussion with Mr. Chance?”

“He lives in Comfrey Magna—”

“Never been there.”

“Few people have. It’s off the tourist route. Anyway, they are having their annual village fête a week tomorrow and Mr. Chance wanted me to beg you to publicize the event for them.”

“Is there anything special about this vicar? Any reason why I should?”

“Only because it’s for charity. And he is rather pushy.”

Agatha smiled. “You look like a woman who has just been bullied. Tell you what, we’ll drive over there tomorrow morning and I will tell him one resounding no and he won’t bother you again.”

“That is so good of you, Mrs. Raisin. I am not very strong when it comes to saying no to good works.”

In the winter days, when the rain dripped down and thick wet fog covered the hills, Agatha sometimes wondered what she was doing buried under the thatch of her cottage in the Cotswolds.

But as she drove off with Mrs. Bloxby the following morning, the countryside was enjoying a really warm spring. Blackthorn starred the hedgerows, wisteria and clematis hung on garden walls, bluebells shook in the lightest of breezes, and a large blue sky arched overhead.

Mrs. Bloxby guided Agatha through a maze of country lanes. “Here we are at last,” she said finally. “Just park in front of the church.”

Agatha thought Comfrey Magna was an odd, secretive-looking village. There were no new houses to mar the straggling line of ancient cottages on either side of the road. She could see no one on the main street or in the gardens or even at the windows.

“Awfully quiet,” she commented.

“Few young people, that’s the problem,” said Mrs. Bloxby. “No first-time buyers, only last-time buyers.”

“Shouldn’t think houses would be all that expensive in a dead hole like this,” said Agatha, parking the car.

“Houses all over are dreadfully expensive.”

They got out of the car. “That’s the vicarage over there,” said Mrs. Bloxby. “We’ll cut through the churchyard.”

The vicarage was an old grey building with a sloping roof of old Cotswold tiles, the kind that cost a fortune but that the local council would never allow anyone to sell, unless they were going to be replaced with exactly the same thing, which, of course, defeated the purpose.

As they entered the churchyard, Agatha saw a man straightening up from one of the graves where he had been laying flowers. He turned and saw them and smiled.

Agatha blinked rapidly. He was tall, with fair hair, a lightly tanned handsome face, and green eyes. His eyes were really green, thought Agatha, not a fleck of brown in them. He was wearing a tweed sports jacket and cavalry-twill trousers.

“Good morning,” said Mrs. Bloxby pleasantly, but giving Agatha’s arm a nudge because that lady seemed to have become rooted to the spot.

“Good morning,” he replied.

“Who was that?” whispered Agatha as they approached the door of the vicarage.

“I don’t know.”

Mrs. Bloxby rang the bell. The door was opened by a tall woman wearing a leotard and nothing else. Her hair was tinted aubergine and worn long and straight. She had rather mean features—a narrow, thin mouth and long narrow eyes. Her nose was thin with an odd bump in the middle, as if it had once been broken and then badly reset. Pushing forty, thought Agatha.

“You’ve interrupted my Pilates exercises,” she said.

“We’ve come to see Mr. Chance,” said Mrs. Bloxby.

“You must be the PR people. You’ll find him in the study. I’m Trixie Chance.”

Oh dear, thought Mrs. Bloxby. She often thought that trendy vicars’ wives did as much to reduce a church congregation as a trendy vicar. Mrs. Chance was of a type familiar to her: always desperately trying to be “cool,” following the latest fads and quoting the names of the latest pop groups.

Trixie had disappeared. By pushing open a couple of doors off the hall, they found the study. Arthur Chance was sitting behind a large Victorian desk piled high with papers.

He rushed round the desk to meet them, his pale eyes shining behind thick glasses. He seized Agatha’s hands. “Dear lady, I knew you would come. How splendid of you to help us!”

Agatha disengaged her hands. “I have come here,” she began, “to say—”

There was a trill of laughter from outside, and through the window Agatha could see Trixie talking to that handsome man.

“Who is that man?” she demanded, pointing at the window.

Arthur swung round in surprise. “Oh, that is one of my parishioners, Mr. George Selby. So tragic, his wife dying like that! He has been a source of strength helping me with the organization of the fête, ordering the marquees in case it rains. So important in our fickle English climate, don’t you think, Mrs. Raisin?”

“Certainly,” gushed Agatha. “Perhaps, if you could call Mr. Selby in, we could discuss the publicity together?”

“Certainly, certainly.” Arthur bustled off. Mrs. Bloxby stifled a sigh. She knew her friend was now dead set on another romantic pursuit. She wished, not for the first time, that Agatha would grow up.

George Selby entered the study behind the vicar. He smiled at Agatha. “Are you sure you want to do this?” he asked. “Mr. Chance can be very persuasive.”

“It’s no trouble at all,” said Agatha, thinking she should have worn a pair of heels instead of the dowdy flat sandals she was wearing.

But Agatha’s heart sank as the events were described to her. There was to be entertainment by the village band and dancing by a local group of morris men. The rest consisted of competitions to see who had created the best cake, bread, pickles, and relishes. The main event was the home-made jam tasting.

She sat in silence after the vicar had finished outlining the events. She caught a sympathetic look from George’s beautiful green eyes and a great idea leaped into her mind.

“Yes, I can do this,” she said. “You haven’t given me much time. Leave it to me.” She turned to George. “Perhaps we could have dinner sometime in the coming week to discuss progress?”

He hesitated slightly. “Splendid idea,” said the vicar. “Plan our campaign. There is a very good restaurant at Mircester. Trixie, my wife, is particularly fond of it. La Belle Cuisine. Why don’t we all meet there for dinner on Wednesday? Eight o’clock.”

“Fine,” said Agatha gloomily.

“I suppose so,” said George with a marked lack of enthusiasm.

Agatha’s staff, consisting of detectives Phil Marshall, Patrick Mulligan, young Toni Gilmour and secretary Mrs. Freedman, found that the usual Monday-morning conference was cancelled. “Just get on with whatever you’re on with,” said Agatha. “I’ve got a church fête to sell.”

Toni felt low. She had been given another divorce case and she hated divorce cases. But she lingered in the office, fascinated to hear Agatha Raisin in full bullying mode on the phone. “Yes, I think you should send a reporter. We’re running a real food campaign here. Good home-village produce and no supermarket rubbish. And I can promise you a surprise. Yes, it is Agatha Raisin here. No, no murder, hah, hah. Just send a reporter.”

Next call. “I want to speak to Betsy Wilson.”

Toni stood frozen. Betsy Wilson was a famous pop singer. “Tell her it’s Agatha Raisin. Hullo, Betsy, dear, remember me? I want you to open a village fête next Saturday. I know you have a busy schedule, but I also happen to know you are between gigs. The press will all be there. Good for your image. Lady-of-the-manor bit. Large hat, floaty dress, gracious—come on, girl, by the time I’m finished with you I’ll have you engaged to Prince William. Yes, you come along and I’ll see if I can get the prince.” Agatha then charged on to tell Betsy to arrive at two o’clock and to give her directions to Comfrey Magna.

“Thick as two planks,” muttered Agatha, “but she’s coming.”

“But she’s famous!” gasped Toni. “Why should she come?”

“Her career was sinking after that drugs bust,” said Agatha. “I did a freelance job and got her going again.”

She picked up the phone again. “News desk? Forget about the healthy food. Better story. Fête is to be opened by Betsy Wilson. Yes. I thought that would make you sit up.”

Toni waited until Agatha had finished the call and asked, “Can you really get Prince William?”

“Of course not, but that dumb cow thinks I’m capable of anything.”

At dinner on the Wednesday night, only Trixie Chance greeted Agatha’s news that Betsy Wilson was to open the fête with delight. George Selby said anxiously, “But the village will be overrun by teenagers and press. It’ll be a disaster.”

Agatha felt panicky. She now had the nationals coming as well as the local newspapers.

“I’ve got it,” she said. “Vicar, you open the fête with a prayer. Get yourself a good sound system. Think of the size of the congregation. I’ll get Betsy to sing ‘Amazing Grace.’ Set the tone.”

The vicar’s eyes shone. “I can see it now,” he said, clasping his hands as though in prayer.

“Yes, so can I,” said George. “Mess and rubbish everywhere.”

Trixie squeezed his arm. “Oh, Georgy Porgy, don’t be a great bear. Little Trixie is thrilled to bits.”

She’s five feet eight inches, thought Agatha sourly, and people who refer to themselves in the third person are always crashing bores.

“It’ll be marvellous,” said Agatha. “It’ll really put Comfrey Magna on the map!”

She wondered how she could manage to engineer an evening with George on his own. Mustn’t seem too needy. Men could smell needy across two continents.

In vain during the meal did George try to protest against the visit of the pop star. The vicar and his wife were too excited to listen to him.

What was worse, George was beginning to look at her with something like dislike in those grass-green eyes of his.

He leaned across the table, interrupting the vicar’s enthusiastic plans and said coldly, “I’ve decided I don’t really want to be part of this.”

“But George,” wailed Trixie, “we depend on you to organize the marquees and things.”

“I am sure the very efficient Mrs. Raisin can take over from me. I only chipped in because Saint Odo’s is a beautiful church and the fête was one way to raise funds towards the necessary repairs as well as sending some money to charity.”

“Listen,” said Agatha, panicking as gorgeous George seemed to be vanishing over the flat horizon of her present manless life, “here’s an idea which will get you so much money you could build a cathedral. It will only mean one day of chaos. You put up barricades at the two roads leading into the village. You charge five pounds a head for entry. You get a couple of farmers, say, to contribute fields for parking. Haven’t you any Boy Scouts or Girl Guides?”

“Yes, we do,” said the vicar.

“Draft them in to park the cars and dib, dib whatever, you’ve got a fortune.”

There was a startled silence. The vicar looked as if someone had just presented him with the Holy Grail. George gave a reluctant smile.

“I suppose it could work. We don’t have much time.”

“Call an emergency meeting in the village hall tomorrow,” said Agatha eagerly.

“There are only a few days left,” cautioned George.

“We can do it,” said Agatha. “I know we can do it.”

“What about all these crowds that are going to come? We’ll need to inform the police.”

Agatha quailed at the thought of her friend Detective Sergeant Bill Wong’s reaction. “I’ll do that,” she said, “and I’ll hire a security firm to police the area.”

“You are an angel,” said the happy vicar.

But George looked uneasy. “I feel no good will come of this,” he said.

The dinner party finished at eight because the vicar liked to eat early and get to bed early.

Agatha cast one longing look after George’s retreating well-tailored back as he headed for his car.

She must find out more about him. Surely Mrs. Bloxby knew something.

Later that evening, Mrs. Bloxby listened in alarm to Agatha’s plans. She felt that as Agatha had bulldozed ahead, there was now little point in making any protest. And when Agatha left, commenting on the incredible beauty of the Cotswolds spring, Mrs. Bloxby repressed a sigh. Agatha’s perception of beauty, she felt, was prompted by her hormones. If only Agatha hadn’t seen that handsome man in the graveyard. She knew her friend of old. Agatha was heading for another obsession, and while it lasted, the Cotswolds would be beautiful and every pop tune would have a special meaning.

Agatha sustained a visit from a very angry Bill Wong on Friday evening. “You might have told me first what your plans were,” he complained, “and I would have done my best to stop you. Betsy Wilson! It’s as bad as hiring Celine Dion for the occasion.”

He was only slightly mollified by the news that Agatha had engaged a security firm that had promised to put as many of their men as possible on the ground.

Bill was the product of a Chinese father and a Gloucestershire mother. He had inherited his father’s almond-shaped eyes, those eyes which were looking suspiciously at Agatha. “Who is he?” asked Bill.

“He? Who?”

“You’ve fallen for someone.”

“Bill, can you not for once believe something good about me? I’m doing this for charity.”

“So you say. I’ll be there myself on Saturday.”

“How’s your love life?” countered Agatha. “Still dating my young detective, Toni Gilmour?”

“We go around together when we both get some free time, but …”

“But what?”

“Agatha, could you try to find out what she thinks of me? Toni is very affectionate and likes me, but there’s no spark there, no hint of passion. Mother and father like her a lot.”

Agatha eyed him shrewdly. “You know, Bill, you can’t go after a girl just because your mother and father like her. Do you yearn for her?”

“Don’t be embarrassing.”

“All right. I’ll find out what her intentions are.”

“I’d better go. See you tomorrow.”

Agatha, who had been sitting on a kitchen chair, rose with one fluid movement to show him out.

“You’ve had a hip replacement!” exclaimed Bill.

“Nonsense. It wasn’t arthritis after all. A pulled muscle.”

Agatha had no intention of telling Bill or anybody else that she had paid one thousand pounds at the Nuffield Hospital in Cheltenham for a hip injection. The surgeon had warned her that she would soon have to have a hip replacement, but now, free of pain, Agatha forgot his words. Arthritis was so ageing. She was sure it had been a pulled muscle.

George Selby had to admit to himself that it looked as if the day was going to be a success. Betsy Wilson was a rare pop singer in that she appealed to families as well as teenagers. He also had to admit that had she not arrived to open the fête, only a few people would have attended. What was considered the height of the fête was the tasting to find the best home—made jam. Little dishes of jam were laid out, and people tasted each and then dropped a note of their favourite in a ballot box.

The sun shone from a cloudless sky on the beauty of spring. It had been a cold, damp early spring, and now, with the sudden heat and good weather, it seemed as if everything had blossomed at once: cherry and lilac, wisteria and hawthorn and all the glory of the fruit trees in the orchards around the village.

Betsy Wilson, in a gauzy dress decorated with roses, made a short speech, clasped her hands and sang her latest hit, “Every Other Sunday.” It was a haunting ballad. Her clear young voice floated up to the Cotswold hills. Even the hardened pressmen stood silently.

She sang two more ballads, finished by singing “Amazing Grace,” and then was hustled into a stretch limo by her personal security guard. The band which had accompanied her packed up and left, to be replaced by the village band.

Then Toni, who was with Agatha, tugged her sleeve and said, “That’s odd.”

“What’s odd?” asked Agatha.

“Look at all those teenagers queuing outside the jam tent.”

“Really? If I thought it was going to be such a popular event, I’d have charged an extra admission fee.”

“Could someone be peddling drugs inside that tent?” asked Toni.

“Why?”

“Some of the people coming out look stoned.”

Agatha was about to walk towards the tent when she heard screams and commotion coming from over by the church. People were pointing upwards. A woman was standing at the top of the square Norman tower, her arms outstretched. As Agatha ran over to the church, followed by Toni, she heard someone say, “It’s old Mrs. Andrews. Her said something about how her could fly.”

Agatha saw George running into the church and ran after him, with Toni pounding after her. George was disappearing through a door at the back of the church where stairs led to the tower. Agatha ran up the stairs, panting and gasping as she neared the top. She staggered out onto the roof.

Mrs. Andrews was standing up on the parapet. “I can fly,” she said dreamily. “Just like Superman.”

George made a lunge for her—but too late.

With an odd little laugh, Mrs. Andrew sailed straight off into space. George, Agatha and Toni craned their heads over the parapet. Mrs. Andrew lay smashed on a table tombstone, a pool of dark blood spreading from her head.

George was white-faced. “What on earth came over her? She was a perfectly sane woman.”

“The jam,” said Toni suddenly. “I think someone’s put something in the jam.”

“Get down there,” said Agatha, “and tell the security guards to seal off that damned tent.”

She was about to run after Toni when George caught her arm. “What’s this about the jam?”

“Toni noticed that an awful lot of teenagers were queuing up outside the jam tent and coming out looking stoned. I’ve got to get down there.”

When they arrived outside the church, a woman came up to them looking distraught. “Get an ambulance. Old Mrs. Jessop’s jumped into the river.”

Police were beginning to shout through loudhailers that everyone was to stay exactly where they were until interviewed.

“Thousands of them,” gasped Toni. “I told Bill there was something wrong with the jam.”

A SPOONFUL OF POISON Copyright 2008 by M. C. Beaton.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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Sort by: Showing all of 20 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2008

    An amusing cozy

    In Comfrey Magna in Cotsword, elderly Mrs. Andrews seems in good spirits as she attends a church charity gala. She remains upbeat when she suddenly leaps from the tower of Saint Odo the Severe. While almost everyone watched in horror, someone robbed the proceeds. An autopsy finds LSD in her further inquiry leads to someone spiking the jam with that hallucinatory drug. ----------- Private investigator Agatha Raisin and her apprentice Toni Gilmour investigate as do the police. Both competing groups focus on the six women who donated the jam. However, a homicide and the suicide of one of the six suspects Sybilla Triast-Perkins complicates a case that is more muddled than the respective love lives of either Agatha or Toni------------- This amusing cozy works on two levels as Agatha is her usual irascible self while challenging the police to try to out sleuth her and her sidekick. The romantic capers of Agatha and Toni add depth to the pair. However, it is the investigation as the ever mocking cocky (pun intended) Agatha goes breast to chest with the police daring them to solve the case before they are KISSING CHRISTMAS GOODBYE.--------- Harriet Klausner

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 17, 2010

    Agatha is not charming

    I bought this book because it was recommended to be like Agatha Christie and to have a charming heroine. It was the opposite. She is selfish and kind of pathetic.. running after every man she runs into. She has some feelings for her friends but for the most part she is selfish. She is a sad creature and should have learned a bit more about life and acceptance of self by this stage in life. Her problems detract from her stories. I read it fast so that I could find out whodoneit. but will not be reading any more of this character or book series.
    If you want a charming sleuth read Diane Mott Davidson's Goldy or Joanne Fluke's Heidi Swenson. There are tons of people who are much more engaging and fun to read.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 17, 2009

    Aggie is at it again

    M.C.Beaton has done it again. Her lovable character Agatha Raisin is caught up in another who's done it. This time Aggie is roped into doing charity work for another parish. Beaton has a way of taking you to the Cotswold area and leading you around the countryside trying to help Aggie in her attempt to solve a murder that happens at parish fund raiser.<BR/>Its hard not to fall in love with the characters, that are well known by this (#19) tale. This series is ADDICTIVE and cant wait for MORE!!!!!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2014

    LMAO

    Agatha Raisin is hysterical. I so love that she is middle aged and still a acts the damn fool like most people! !!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2013

    I read this book when it was listed as a Cozy mystery. It's any

    I read this book when it was listed as a Cozy mystery. It's anything but cozy. The main character of Agatha Raisin is a vulgar, self-important man-eater who chases after the new man in town like a lion after a new kill. Any, and I mean any.....female in her path is treated with visious glee because she sees them as competition. She even is violently jealous of her own best detective, the teenager Toni Gilmour. How any country can call this the woman and her team of blunderers The Best Detectives is beyond me. Agatha Raisin and her team trip and falter into trying to solve the murders to a point where the seemingly invisible Police now have the main job of rescuing them! Agatha dispatches innocent females easier than solving the mystery. This book has more focus on Agatha's man-chasing and tantrums than the actual mystery. It should not be categorized as a Mystery here. I read where Agatha Raisin books have been around for 20 years. Considering the unsavory title character, I'm not surprised that it has never gone on to a BBC or other television series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2012

    Another best!

    Have enjoyed several of the Agatha Raisin series and never tire of the twists and turns of plot and the shortcomings of the character. Also like the descrictions of changing weather in the south of England as I have experienced a bit of that myself. Recommend this as another of the best of series.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 3, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    This is the first time I've listened to an Agatha Raisin mystery

    This is the first time I've listened to an Agatha Raisin mystery rather than read it. I must say, reader Donalda Peters' wonderful rendering of the story lifts Ms. Beaton's writing far above its usual pedestrian level. LSD-spiked jam at a village fair launches a series of events (and a dizzying array of relationships), with Agatha up to her ears trying to find the culprit. All the favorite characters are here: Bill Wong, Ron Silver, Sir James, and the long-tolerant vicar's wife, Mrs. Bloxby. And, not surprisingly, Agatha is obsessed once again with finding a man -something that for me has always seemed out of character with such an intelligent, independent woman. Yet it does provide opportunities for humor. Fun as always.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2012

    An "Agatha" regular reader would enjoy this slow story.

    The LSD spiked jams was a stretch too unbelievable for me. Agatha, as usual, is a muddled person, second guessing herself constantly. She appears to becoming younger.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 2, 2010

    Another Lovable Agatha Raisin

    I love Agatha Raisin. She's funny, charming, lovable to the reader but I'm afraid not always lovable to the average village resident. But that's okay--we readers are the ones who matter. She sticks her nose unflinchingly where it doesn't belong, gives an air of self-confidence but doesn't always feel that way, somehow always solves the mystery but the police end up taking the credit--much to her chagrin. In this book there's a village fair, someone poisons the jam, and Agatha and her partner must figure out whodunnit. As usual it held my attention to the end, and there were many laugh-out-loud moments. I highly recommend it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A Spoonful or Posion

    An easy read on rainy days.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted December 30, 2008

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    Posted December 27, 2010

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    Posted May 4, 2012

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    Posted April 19, 2010

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    Posted February 27, 2010

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