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A Disagreeable Entry in a Fine Series
on 29 April 2006
The walkers referred to in the title are a rather eclectic and somewhat pathetic bunch who traipse around with a chip on their shoulders just spoiling for a fight with area landowners. They seldom have any trouble finding conflict especially with their pushy, outspoken and obnoxious leader Jessica Tartinc leading the charge. As this book begins Jessica has gone too far even for her followers and she heads off to confront a local aristocrat on her own. When her body is found on said aristocrat's land the suspect list includes not only the gentry but also the walkers themselves. Because one of the walkers is the niece of Mrs. Mason, the President of the Carsely Ladies Society, and has therefore heard of Agatha and her amateur sleuthing Agatha's assistance is requested. Needless to say, this gives a big boost to Agatha's ego but by the end of the book she finds out that maybe the reference that she received wasn't nearly as complimentary as she had thought.
Much to Agatha's delight, the strategy decided upon requires her and her neighbor James Lacey to move into a flat in Dembley and pose as husband and wife in order to infiltrate the group of walkers. Agatha, who has been chasing Lacey since the first book of the series is soon dejected however because her pretend marriage just doesn't work out at all like she had planned. Unknown to her however she is much more attractive to James when she isn't trying to get her claws into him and he becomes more and more fond of her as the book progresses. This part of the plot in fact leads to a bombshell of sorts at the end of this book, which will leave the reader very anxious to get their hands on the next entry in the series.
Despite the bombshell however this is probably the least enjoyable of the first four books in this series. The mystery itself plays a much larger part in this story than in the previous books, which would at first glance appear to be a good thing. Unfortunately the mystery is not suspenseful or for that matter interesting enough to carry the plot on it's own and all of the little side plots that involve the other characters in the book fall very flat. The problem may well be that for the most part the old comfortable characters in Carsely are basically absent from this book leaving only the new characters introduced for this book and quite frankly most of these new characters are fairly wretched creatures. It is really hard to get involved in a story when most every person involved makes your skin crawl. The whole notion of a cozy mystery is sort left by the wayside when there is absolutely nothing cozy about the story or it's characters.
I am a great fan of this series and if you intend to read any of the books following this one then this is a must read because of the interaction between Agatha and James. Just don't be at all surprised if after reading this book you find that instead of feeling all warm and fuzzy, like your supposed to feel after reading a cozy mystery, you just feel numb.