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The Witches' Tree (Agatha Raisin) by M.C. Beaton
Cover Artist: Road by Merggy / Shutterstock;
Houses by Lana_Samcorp / Shutterstock
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Minotaur Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781250057464
Date: 03 October 2017 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Wishing to ingratiate himself into the quaint village life of Cuckleton, the boorish Sir Edward Chumble hosts a dinner party. While driving home from this dreary event, Vicar Rory Harris and his wife, Molly, discover the dead body of a spinster, Margaret Darby, hanging from the Witches' Tree. Chumble hires Agatha Raisin to determine which one of his eccentric guests at the dinner party could have killed Margaret. Soon, there are more dead bodies found in and around the tree. Agatha finds herself the target of a murderous witches' coven.

Having read every one of the Agatha Raisin novels, I can honestly say that M.C. Beaton's The Witches' Tree has the strongest sexual content. I'm not saying it is X-rated or that it contains graphic scenes of sexuality--the type I once read in a Harold Robbins or a Jackie Collins novel. However, poor Agatha seems consumed with lust as she pursues one man after another. The plot contains a lot of sexuality. It ranges from old witches dancing in the nude to one of the main characters having being gang-raped before she moved to the Cotswolds.

The Witches' Tree would be a delight to read around Halloween because it has actual witches in it. A coven of them exists in Cuckleton. Also, Agatha convinces the money-pinching Sir Charles Fraith to turn his castle into a haunted house attraction. As if witches and ghosts aren't enough, there is also a midget who dresses up like a ghoul and scares Agatha. Furthermore, The Witches' Tree is one of the raunchiest of the Agatha Raisin novels. There is spitting in food and urinating in coffee. The word "bitch" is used more times than I would care to remember.

All of the series' reoccurring characters make an appearance, even if it is only for a few pages. Lately, Sir Charles Faith has had the most staying power. Agatha is always consumed with jealousy if he has a love interest and vice versa. It is as though they are purposely sabotaging each other's chances of finding marital bliss. Agatha continues to also pine after her neighbor and ex-husband, James Lacy, who is a control freak. Meanwhile, her young protégés at the detective agency, Toni Gilmour and Simon Black, are also still searching for romance. Her effeminate friend, Roy Silver, is only searching for publicity.

The mystery contained within The Witches' Tree is a very good one. I didn't have a clue as to who was responsible for the deaths of Margaret Darby and all the others. Detective Wilkes is right about Agatha Raisin; she bumbles around until she discovers the killer. Usually, Agatha is nearly killed in the process. I'm only along for the ride, and it is always a hilarious, sometimes frightful, one. The Witches' Tree is no exception. This is one of her raunchiest installments. Some of the scenes made me blush. Nevertheless, I can't wait for the next Agatha Raisin mystery.

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