"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