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Agatha Raisin's love life is in a mess . . . even though she's found a great hair dresser, Mr. John (the wizard of Evesham). James Lacey is away and isn't staying in touch. Mr. John is quite delicious in Agatha's eyes, but the frightened reactions of other women to Mr. John's name make Agatha suspicious. Out on a date with Mr. John, she finds her resistance melting. But Sir Charles Fraith (whom she saved from death in Agatha Raisin and the Walkers of Dembley and with whom she had a one-night stand in Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist) also wants to date "Aggie" and talks her into a joint investigation of Mr. John. Soon, Agatha is extravagantly throwing money and herself at the wizard . . . but she has some benefit because her hair has never looked better.

All of this fun is interrupted when Mr. John is poisoned. Agatha and Charles up their investigations . . . and also draw danger to themselves. They also draw more than the usual ire from the police, including Bill Wong who is being watched very carefully lest he play favorites with Agatha.

This is a confused Agatha. She makes fewer good decisions than usual and is clearly adrift emotionally. For those who like to think of Agatha as the next thing to Super Woman, this book will be a disappointment. If you don't like hair-based humor, this book also won't excite you.

Part of the appeal in this book comes from knowing how attached some women get to a given hairdresser. Turning that sometime attachment into a humorous mystery story is a good idea.

Detecting with Sir Charles isn't quite as much fun as detecting with a friendly James Lacey. There are also fewer romantic dreams for Agatha to relate. Instead, she's starting to wonder if she's just a dowdy middle-aged woman, despite younger men paying attention. I felt sorry for Agatha, and that made me realize that the character development was working for me. Before this book, I thought of Agatha as an interesting character rather than as a character I related to. In this book, the barrier finally dropped for me.
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on 16 May 1999
Though I remain a staunch supporter of the Agatha Raisin series, its plot staples (Agatha's unrequited love for James, her feeling displaced in the Cotswolds, her battles with weight and the signs of old age) are wearing thin. In the Wizard of Evesham, there is not even the tinge of humor that marked the first few entries in the Agatha series. I read this novel in the dashed hope that M C Beaton would finally make Agatha fuller character. Yet Agatha persists in coming across as two-dimensional, a cardboard cutout.
As for the "mystery," it fell flat. Rather than taking a truly active role in the storyline, Agatha blunders through the story. It hardly seems in character that a tough businesswoman would be such a victim in any aspect of her life. Elements from past novels were recycled (Agatha buying catered food, passing it off as her own. Agatha "solving" a crime by placing herself in the killer's hands.)
If Agatha must remain a cardboard figure, why not explore the lives of the others in the village of Carsley? Though the vicar's wife, Mrs. Bloxby, is made to seem a paragon of Christian charity and humility, I sense each time she appears a more sinister side could be lurking just beneath the surface. It is the mark of a truly poor book when a secondary character draws a reader's interest more than the titular main character.
Let's have more and BETTER Agatha Raisin.
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on 18 March 1999
Agatha Raisin is bit depressed over her lost relationship with her former fiancé. However, finding some gray hairs makes Agatha even more despondent. A hair dye leaves her with a purple haze on top of her head. Agatha turns to the highly regarded Mr. John, owner of a nearby hair salon, to work miracles. John succeeds, but Agatha is a bit concerned that his customers reveal their darkest secrets to the brilliant stylist. Agatha wonders how John uses this information.

A few days later, Agatha and her friend Charles finds John extremely ill and he consequently dies from a toxin deliberately placed inside his vitamin capsules. The police notice discrepancies between the stories told by Agatha and Charles (a friend), making the duo prime suspects in the poisoning of John. Agatha begins to investigate and soon learns that John was blackmailing his clients. Now all Agatha has to do is uncover which one of these patrons decided to stop paying.

The return of Agatha Raisin, amateur sleuth extraodinaire, is always a treat and M.C. Beaton does not miss a beat with her newest entry. AGATHA RAISIN AND THE WIZARD OF EVESHAM is vintage Raisin as the story line is interesting and filled with several twists, including a fabulous right angle ending. Agatha remains a somewhat vulgar, intelligent, but vulnerable heroine, who cannot resist a mystery. If there is anything to criticize it is the not going anywhere tango with James (her former fiancé), which needs resolution one way or another. Still that remains a very minor intrusion that occurs after the prime tale is finished, leaving this novel as another fabulous English cozy by the great M.C.Beaton.

Harriet Klausner
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on 12 April 1999
This book was not as dismal as the last Agatha Raisin mystery but it isn't much better. I could not get involved with the plot or feel any connection to the characters. M.C. Beaton seems to have forgotten what made Agatha Raisin such an endearing heroine. I felt in this one that Agatha herself was the murderer as she caused the murder to happen due to her boredom. I hate to give up on the series but this one didn't cause me to want to keep reading them. And please, let's return Aggie to the woman of the 90's that she is and resolve this mess with James once and for all! I hope the Hamish McBeth series doesn't take the same nosedive as this one did.
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on 25 April 1999
Either I am getting better at solving mysteries, this mystery was easier to solve than most, or the clues were cleverly given. In any case, I solved the mystery a couple of chapters before the end of the book. This book was quick to read, did not require a lot of thought, and was entertaining. This is a good book to read on a lazy afternoon.
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on 27 February 2006
I don't agree with most of the reviews - maybe it was the fact that there's been a gap since the last one.
Actually, I found Agatha's character to be much more vulnerable this time around. The book was enjoyable and I spent a pleasant afternoon reading it. I did solve it myself but that didn't remove my pleasure in it.
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on 19 March 2010
If you've a reading age of 13 and the sexual maturity of a 17 year old, this book might be for you. Provided, that is, you are not looking for good writing, a good plot, credible characters, or any of the other attributes of a decent book.

This was truly dreadful, full of inane dialogue, weak description, and empty of interest, excitement, or believable situations. And if that isn't bad enough, it turns out to be about hairdressers, with a "heroine" who spends most of her time having her hair done (if you are short of ways to describe bad hairdos, you might find a few useful pointers here, so there is at least some value in this book). The title "...and the wizard of..." is a cheat and ever-so-slightly-deceitful gag that does not live up to its promise.

Earlier novels in the same series may have been better, as suggested by some other reviewers; I don't know, I don't intend to find out, and I don't suggest anyone else should either. Better to keep away from this book and others like it, just as you'd stay away from the many hairdressing salons it features.
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on 12 May 2016
Another in the very successful cosy crime series involving Agatha Raisin, and well up to standard. This one features the murder of a hairdresser in Evesham, with Agatha setting out to find out who did it. As usual, it's not so much clever detective work on her part, ore 'blundering about' getting in the way of the police but eventually stumbling across the truth. If you like cosy crime, you will love the Agatha Raisin books.
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on 27 August 2016
What a treat! Funny, clever and satisfying. The characters and their little idiosyncrasies are well captured. Brilliant observations of small English town extravagancies. Agatha is a vulnerable creature, but at the same time, tough as nails. As for the plot - suspend belief and enjoy the ride. It's great light entertainment at its best.
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on 30 March 2016
I loved this book. It kept me entertained all the way through. Ok so the Agatha Raisin series they aren't the most amazing literature ever written but great little stories none the less. Nice easy reading, perfect if you don't have time to delve into something deeper. I couldn't concentrate to read for a while & this series have got me back to reading books again! I love them.
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