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Will Agatha Enjoy a White Christmas with James Lacey?
on 12 October 2007
The suspense in Kissing Christmas Goodbye is mostly focused on whether Agatha Raisin will be able to pull off a splendid Christmas party with James Lacey at her side: That's one of her dreams as the book opens. Having grown up as the daughter of two alcoholics in the Birmingham slums, Agatha has always craved a classic Christmas dinner. Her previous attempt hit a major snag when she burned her turkey and had to be bailed out by a last-minute caterer, but everyone had fun.
The detective agency is doing well because Agatha has overcome her scruples about taking on divorce cases, even if everyone on the staff finds them distasteful. But without the fantasy of a man to fall in love with, Agatha finds herself bored by it all. With her Christmas fantasy, she finds a substitute for romantic fantasies.
Life becomes more interesting when Agatha decides to check out an invitation from Phyllis Tamworthy, an elderly woman who claims that her family is about to kill her. Agatha takes on the assignment of preventing the murder and ends up having one of the worst country weekends imaginable. Mrs. Tamworthy is right about one thing: Someone is out to get her. The detecting trail leads Agatha to learn a great deal about this unpleasant woman and her undesirable family.
For me, the best part of the book came in the introduction of a new character, Toni Gilmour, a 17-year-old woman who seems to be a young Agatha Raisin in the making. Toni is hired to do the pet detecting that Harry Beam used to do before he headed off to Cambridge for his university studies. Toni is soon promoted into the front ranks as a detective due to her remarkable insights and good luck. But it's Agatha's reaction to Toni that makes this a good story: Agatha turns maternal, something we haven't seen before. I hope we will see and hear a lot more of Toni in future books in the series.
The story is fun and I would have graded the book higher except that this is a most transparent mystery in terms of who did what to whom. How could I grade a book above average if the mystery is child's play?
But I know this book will bring many smiles to your face.