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Love, Lies and Liquor

Cover of Love, Lies and Liquor

Love, Lies and Liquor

Agatha Raisin Mystery Series, Book 17
Celebrating 20 Years of Agatha Raisin—Brand-New Bonus Story Included!

Agatha Raisin is lonely. Busy as she is with her detective agency and the meetings of the Carsely Ladies’ Society, she still misses her ex-husband, James Lacey, so she welcomes his return to the cottage next door with her usual triumph of optimism over experience---especially when he invites her on holiday at a surprise location that was once very dear to him. With visions of a romantic hideaway in Italy or the Pacific dancing in her head, Agatha goes off happily with James to...Snoth-on-Sea, in Sussex.
While James may have fond memories of boyhood holidays there, Snoth-on-Sea has seen better days, as has the once-grand Palace Hotel, now run-down and tacky and freezing cold. Nor do the other guests have much to recommend them, especially the brassy honeymoon couple, Mr. and Mrs. Jankers, who pick a fight with Agatha in the dining room. But trouble has a way of following Agatha even if romance does not: Just as she and James are preparing to flee to warmer climes, Geraldine Jankers is found dead on the beach---strangled with Agatha’s scarf. So much for Agatha’s holiday fantasies: Not only is it time to put her detective skills to work, but the police are not even sure that she’ll be allowed to leave town.
Celebrating 20 Years of Agatha Raisin—Brand-New Bonus Story Included!

Agatha Raisin is lonely. Busy as she is with her detective agency and the meetings of the Carsely Ladies’ Society, she still misses her ex-husband, James Lacey, so she welcomes his return to the cottage next door with her usual triumph of optimism over experience---especially when he invites her on holiday at a surprise location that was once very dear to him. With visions of a romantic hideaway in Italy or the Pacific dancing in her head, Agatha goes off happily with James to...Snoth-on-Sea, in Sussex.
While James may have fond memories of boyhood holidays there, Snoth-on-Sea has seen better days, as has the once-grand Palace Hotel, now run-down and tacky and freezing cold. Nor do the other guests have much to recommend them, especially the brassy honeymoon couple, Mr. and Mrs. Jankers, who pick a fight with Agatha in the dining room. But trouble has a way of following Agatha even if romance does not: Just as she and James are preparing to flee to warmer climes, Geraldine Jankers is found dead on the beach---strangled with Agatha’s scarf. So much for Agatha’s holiday fantasies: Not only is it time to put her detective skills to work, but the police are not even sure that she’ll be allowed to leave town.
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  • Copyright © 2006 by M. C. Beaton

LOVE, LIES and LIQUOR (CHAPTER ONE)

ONE

JAMES LACEY, Agatha Raisin's ex-husband with whom she was still in love, had come back into her life. He had moved into his old cottage next door to Agatha's.

But although he seemed interested in Agatha's work at her detective agency, not a glint of love lightened his blue eyes. Agatha dressed more carefully than she had done in ages and spent a fortune at the beautician's, but to no avail. This was the way, she thought sadly, that things had been before. She felt as if some cruel hand had wound the clock of time backwards.

Just when Agatha was about to give up, James called on her and said friends of his had moved into Ancombe and had invited them both to dinner. His host, he said, was a Mr. David Hewitt who was retired from the Ministry of Defence. His wife was called Jill.

Delighted to be invited as a couple, Agatha set out with James I from their cottages in the village of Carsely in the English Cotswolds to drive the short distance to Ancombe.

The lilac blossom was out in its full glory. Wisteria and clematis trailed down the walls of honey-coloured cottages, and hawthorn, the fairy tree, sent out a heady sweet smell in the evening air.

Agatha experienced a qualm of nervousness as she drove them towards Ancombe. She had made a few visits to James in his cottage, but they were always brief. James was always occupied with something and seemed relieved when she left. Agatha planned to make the most of this outing. She was dressed in a biscuit-coloured suit with a lemon-coloured blouse and high-heeled sandals. Her brown hair gleamed and shone.

James was wearing a tweed sports jacket and flannels. "Am I overdressed?" asked Agatha.

One blue eye swivelled in her direction. "No, you look fine."

The Hewitts lived in a bungalow called Merrydown. As Agatha drove up the short gravelled drive, she could smell something cooking on charcoal. "It's not a barbecue?" she asked.

"I believe it is. Here we are."

"James, if you had told me it was a barbecue, I would have dressed more suitably."

"Don't nag," said James mildly, getting out of the car.

Agatha detested barbecues. Barbecues were for Americans, Australians and Polynesians, or any of those other people with a good climate. The English, from her experience, delighted in under-cooked meat served off paper plates in an insect-ridden garden.

James rang the doorbell. The door was opened by a small woman with pinched little features and pale grey eyes. Her grey hair was dressed in girlish curls. She was wearing a print frock and low-heeled sandals.

"James, darling!" She stretched up and enfolded him in an embrace. "And who is this?"

"Don't you remember, I was told to bring my ex-wife along. This is Agatha Raisin. Agatha, Jill."

Jill linked her arm in James's, ignoring Agatha. "Come along. We're all in the garden." Agatha trailed after them. She wanted to go home.

Various people were standing around the garden drinking some sort of fruit cup. Agatha, who felt in need of a strong gin and tonic, wanted more than ever to flee.

She was introduced to her host, who was cooking dead things on the barbecue. He was wearing a joke apron with a picture of a woman's body in a corset and fishnet stockings. James was taken round and introduced to the other guests, while Agatha stood on a flagged patio teetering on her high heels.

Agatha sighed and sank down into a garden chair. She opened her handbag and took out her cigarettes and lighter and lit a cigarette.

"Do you mind awfully?" Her host stood in front of her, brandishing a knife.

"What?"

"This is a smoke-free...

About the Author-
  • M. C. Beaton, who was the British guest of honor at Bouchercon 2006, has been hailed as the "Queen of Crime" (The Globe and Mail). In addition to her New York Times and USA Today bestselling Agatha Raisin novels, Beaton is the author of the Hamish Macbeth series and four Edwardian mysteries. Born in Scotland, she currently divides her time between the English Cotswolds and Paris. The Blood of an Englishman is her 25th Agatha Raisin Mystery.
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Love, Lies and Liquor
Love, Lies and Liquor
Agatha Raisin Mystery Series, Book 17
M. C. Beaton
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