M.C. Beaton

Down The Hatch

"I give it the thumbs up - it's a darn good read."


Agatha Raisin is taking her usual lunchtime power walk in Mirchester Park when she hears a scream. At first she thinks it comes from some children in a play area. Then she hears another scream, and realises it comes from the other side of a hedge bordering the path she is walking along. She investigates, and what she discovers is a crown bowling green with a man, apparently dead, lying on a pool of vomit, and a woman, who obviously made the scream, and her husband. She is told that the old man's name is Nelson, and that at one time he was a seaman, so had the nickname of 'the Admiral'. The couple, Mr and Mrs Swinburn, are members of the bowling club. By the old man's side is a rum bottle, but Agatha thinks he was poisoned by weed killer being added to the rum.

DCI Wilkes, who has no time for Agatha, turns up on the scene, and thinks otherwise - that it was merely the death of an alcoholic At the inquest, so too does the coroner. Agatha knows it was murder. She decides to investigate, and then receives an anonymous note saying that it was indeed murder.

So far, so normal for Agatha. She has a murder investigation while also having a rekindled romance with her ex-husband James Lacey. But things turn nasty. Someone tries to run her down, and she finds her life in danger. Has this anything to do with another case her agency is handling, or her investigation into the Admiral''s death?

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When Marion Chesney Beaton died in 2019, fellow Scot, Rod Green, Marion's friend, and with her approval, finished it for her after lengthy conversations at her home. He gave the finished typescript to her to read two weeks before she died. Now he has written this completely new Agatha Raison, and peppered it with the same well-loved characters. He is on record as saying that the characters are so well delineated that it would not be right to change them. So 'Down the Hatch' uses the same well-loved characters, adding some nice touches of his own. Agatha is more business-like than she was in the earlier books, while still being her usual feisty, unruly, sweary, unpredictable self. And she is still, thank goodness, letting her heart rule her head in matters of romance and love. The plot is good, the baddies are believable, and the ending is crisp, with a satisfying twist. People have pigeon-holed Agatha Raisin books as 'cosy', though there is a hard edge in them not found in other cosies. I give it the thumbs up - it's a darn good read.

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