Agatha Raisin and the Witches' Tree by M.C. Beaton

Agatha Raisin and the Witches' Tree

The Witches’ Tree continues the tradition in M. C. Beaton's beloved Agatha Raisin mystery series―now a hit T.V. show.Cotswolds inhabitants are used to inclement weather, but the night sky is especially foggy as Rory and Molly Devere, the new vicar and his wife, drive slowly home from a dinner party in their village of Sumpton Harcourt. They strain to see the road ahead―and...

Title:Agatha Raisin and the Witches' Tree
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Edition Language:English

Agatha Raisin and the Witches' Tree Reviews

  • Malia

    Another little caper with my old friend Agatha. I do wish there were a little progress in the characters' personal lives after 28 books, but all in all, I enjoyed it.

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  • OutlawPoet

    Okay, here’s my confession…

    I want Agatha and Charles to get married and have a Happily Ever After.

    I loved this latest entry in the Agatha Raisin series. The Witches Tree has a great mystery, some truly devious crimes, and it’s just pure fun.

    Agatha is maturing. She’s still Agatha (no worries), but in this book she’s becoming more the person her readers know she can be. And her relationship with Charles is getting interesting…in a swoon-worthy way.

    No worries – your favorite characters are there a

    Okay, here’s my confession…

    I want Agatha and Charles to get married and have a Happily Ever After.

    I loved this latest entry in the Agatha Raisin series. The Witches Tree has a great mystery, some truly devious crimes, and it’s just pure fun.

    Agatha is maturing. She’s still Agatha (no worries), but in this book she’s becoming more the person her readers know she can be. And her relationship with Charles is getting interesting…in a swoon-worthy way.

    No worries – your favorite characters are there and there’s still a lot of nasty under the ‘peaceful’ country exterior.

    A fast and fabulously fun read. And as a reminder, if you’re new to Agatha Raisin, you really can start anywhere. No need to go back to book 1.

    *ARC Provided via Net Galley

  • Nancy

    My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.

    After the last book, ‘Pushing up Daisies’, I had hoped that MC Beaton has turned a corner and her Agatha Raisin series would get back to what they had previous been with multiple story lines that bounced back and forth effortlessly. Unfortunately, this book returned to the usual drivel that has become her norm.

    Fifty-three year old Agatha is in her usual depressed mood when there is no man in her lif

    My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.

    After the last book, ‘Pushing up Daisies’, I had hoped that MC Beaton has turned a corner and her Agatha Raisin series would get back to what they had previous been with multiple story lines that bounced back and forth effortlessly. Unfortunately, this book returned to the usual drivel that has become her norm.

    Fifty-three year old Agatha is in her usual depressed mood when there is no man in her life and work is the usual boring assortment of missing pets, marital affairs and wayward teens. Agatha is still the “pet hate” for Wilkes since she tends to solve more crime by “bumbling about” then he does. Thus begins the tale of the Witches’ Tree when the body of Margaret Darby is found hanging from a tree that has a curious past.

    The story gets a bit twisted with several dead bodies, a coven, and a will that has gone through several revisions, but when it comes down to it, the village of Sumpton Harcourt has some very odd people not to mention too much affinity for Agatha Christy and romance novels.

    Things were touched on in the book, involving the wife of the new vicar, that I did not think belonged in a cozy mystery and I was rather surprised to see it brought up here. There were parts that did not seem to be fully addressed by the end of the book and characters that took up more room than they should have. Overall, if you have read the full series to this point, you would not be able to pass by a new Agatha, but if you are just staring out, I suggest that you start at the beginning and develop you own love for the people of Carsley.

  • Ellen

    Although I have enjoyed this series for all of the previous books, I felt this story line lacked something. In addition, the back and forth between Agatha and Charles seemed a bit pathetic instead of fun. The mystery involved murders occurring in a small, gloomy Cotswold town with a witches' coven. Not my favorite.

  • Susan Johnson

    A character in this book moved to the Cotswolds solely because he wanted the Agatha Christie experience. It's really the Jane Marple experience of village life and he was trying to experience that. I realized that is one of the reasons I like this series so much. I too want to live in a little village with other little towns all 5-10 minutes apart and gorgeous scenery. And never a shortage of handsome men, just ask Agatha Raisin.

    I always am surprised she makes a living running a detective agenc

    A character in this book moved to the Cotswolds solely because he wanted the Agatha Christie experience. It's really the Jane Marple experience of village life and he was trying to experience that. I realized that is one of the reasons I like this series so much. I too want to live in a little village with other little towns all 5-10 minutes apart and gorgeous scenery. And never a shortage of handsome men, just ask Agatha Raisin.

    I always am surprised she makes a living running a detective agency with employees no less in the Cotswolds but she does. Apparently there are more things that need investigating than I envisioned and when people start dying right and left, Agatha investigates. There is one scene where she gets ties up with her assistant, Toni, that is laugh out loud hysterical.

    There is a witch's coven thrown in and a restaurant owner who dares to spit into Agatha's food. There is never a dull moment. Agatha even gets Charles out of a big mess in a very fun way. Who isn't rooting for Agatha and Charles to get together? I think they are better suited than James.

    It's another fun romp with Agatha that I enjoyed. Thanks to Net Galley for a copy of this enjoyable read.

  • Claire Stoyle

    Well, what can I say - not up to the expected standard. The sentences were short, the story jumped from one thing to another - one minute someone was dead, and then he wasn't. Names of people had changed, and the continuity was all out of sync. I felt the story needed bulking out and I was reading the annotated version. There was also too much focus on the love life of poor Agatha instead of focusing on the juicy bits of the story. I felt this was a book written for the fans far too quickly, and

    Well, what can I say - not up to the expected standard. The sentences were short, the story jumped from one thing to another - one minute someone was dead, and then he wasn't. Names of people had changed, and the continuity was all out of sync. I felt the story needed bulking out and I was reading the annotated version. There was also too much focus on the love life of poor Agatha instead of focusing on the juicy bits of the story. I felt this was a book written for the fans far too quickly, and to order instead of a well thought out story that evolved over the pages. That being said, I did enjoy the antics of our dear Agatha, but as with the writing, I do think she is past her best. Cruel opinion maybe, but mine, and not necessarily that of the other fans.

  • The Flooze

    I remember a time when I eagerly devoured every Agatha Raisin story. I delighted in Aggie's abrasiveness, in the villagers' eccentricities, and in the ludicrously daft situations the characters found themselves in. It added up to intriguing, uncomplicated entertainment.

    Sadly, that's not the case any more. Riddled with inconsistencies, this installment cries out for a good line edit. Characters who have just packed themselves into a car are suddenly and magically storming out the vicarage door. N

    I remember a time when I eagerly devoured every Agatha Raisin story. I delighted in Aggie's abrasiveness, in the villagers' eccentricities, and in the ludicrously daft situations the characters found themselves in. It added up to intriguing, uncomplicated entertainment.

    Sadly, that's not the case any more. Riddled with inconsistencies, this installment cries out for a good line edit. Characters who have just packed themselves into a car are suddenly and magically storming out the vicarage door. Names are swapped around. Newly acquired clues are suddenly forgotten or are attributed to the wrong source. It's utterly distracting.

    Bringing this book down further is the unnatural dialogue. The conversations are short and sharp, yet they still manage to meander helter-skelter through topics.

    The mystery is bland. The Charles question has dragged on far too long. I'm infuriated by Simon's continued presence. I wish Bill played a larger role. And I desperately want Agatha to stop comparing herself to all women and swooning over every available man.

    Sorry, Agatha. We may not meet again. But if we do, I fervently hope it's after someone has given your prose a bit of tough love.

  • Deanna

    This is one of my few remaining light-reading series. I haven’t found it objectionably disappointing and deserted it deep into the series, like I have a bunch of others. And it’s one of the exceptions to 3-stars reflecting that I would have been happier reading something else, or at least that my positive expectations were significantly squashed.

    The vinegary, un-charming, age-anxious, man-obsessive, ferociously independent, lonely 50-something ex-PR-exec-turned PI-in-the-Cotswolds is a unique f

    This is one of my few remaining light-reading series. I haven’t found it objectionably disappointing and deserted it deep into the series, like I have a bunch of others. And it’s one of the exceptions to 3-stars reflecting that I would have been happier reading something else, or at least that my positive expectations were significantly squashed.

    The vinegary, un-charming, age-anxious, man-obsessive, ferociously independent, lonely 50-something ex-PR-exec-turned PI-in-the-Cotswolds is a unique fixture in mystery fiction and I always wonder what she is up to between books, so I keep coming back to them. I forgive them their flaws, because the anti-stereotype Agatha somehow soothes me.

    Agatha is bright, successful, clever, and powerful, but foolishly tripping her own flawed self up in ways that make us wince in recognition of all our personal proclivity to stupid-acting and better-judgement leaving.

    She has to have a man to embarrassingly obsess over, but in no way are these books in the romance genre thank you.

    She romps around cozy country and tea is a feature, but the gin-and-smokes Agatha is not a cozy heroine, thank you again.

    She’s a PI, sort of, but the series doesn’t fit the serious PI genre at all.

    The series is inherently whimsical and works at being funny, neither of which syncs up with my reading DNA, but somehow I’m not really put off by the whimsy, and even find myself genuinely amused at the humor at times. I’m a serious reader and take my mysteries seriously, but in this case I manage to be fine with the wink wink of it all.

    I don’t love the series but I do like it well enough, somehow manage to just enjoy it for what it is rather than fuming over what it isn’t. How is it that Agatha Raisin of all people brings out the zen in my reader soul?

  • Rachel Hall

    Now very definitely in the autumn of her career, Cotswold based private detective Agatha Raisin whose years seems to decrease with each consecutive appearance, returns at the age of fifty-three in a monumentally disappointing twenty-eighth outing. Given that the cosy crime capers of Agatha and her supporting cast in the village of Carsley have been keeping me gently amused for well over a decade, it is with a heavy heart that I bid farewell to a series which has not so much tailed off, but falle

    Now very definitely in the autumn of her career, Cotswold based private detective Agatha Raisin whose years seems to decrease with each consecutive appearance, returns at the age of fifty-three in a monumentally disappointing twenty-eighth outing. Given that the cosy crime capers of Agatha and her supporting cast in the village of Carsley have been keeping me gently amused for well over a decade, it is with a heavy heart that I bid farewell to a series which has not so much tailed off, but fallen over a cliff edge! Admittedly formulaic at its best, Agatha Raisin and the Witches’ Tree marks a new low in the series, with an inane plot, a haphazard and oddly jumpy narrative and an over-reliance on comic scenarios which have all been tapped before.

    The novel opens with the latest incomers to the village of Cuckleton, imbued with a vision of living the idyllic Cotswold lifestyle, Sir Edward Chumble and his spirited younger wife Tiffany, throwing a dinner party after a subdued welcome on the part of the gloomy locals. Amongst the guests are the vicar of neighbouring Sumpton Harcourt, Rory Harris and his glamorous wife, Molly who have recently relocated from a parish in the East End of London who make an early escape from the soirée after another night of dire company. As they drive home in a shroud of mist and approach the ghastly lightning-blasted witches’ tree they are shocked to be faced with the body of one of the church helpers, Miss Margaret Darby, hanging limply from a gnarled branch. Molly is beside herself and plagued with guilt about having failed a suicidal woman who she had only previously exchanged platitudes with and this horror does nothing to reassure herself about the ominous and threatening atmosphere of their new village. However, when a preliminary autopsy reveals that the victim was dead prior to her suicide being staged, it offers former public relations impresario turned private detective, Agatha Raisin, some respite from a proliferation of missing pets, philandering couples and her perpetually floundering love life. In an effort to address the sinister atmosphere and the hostile locals within Sumpton Harcourt, Molly Harris inveigles Sir Edward to play the country squire and hire Agatha to investigate. In no short order another two murders follow and with the police at a loss, Agatha’s reputation at risk and her life in obvious danger, could this finally put an end to Agatha Raisin’s investigative days?

    M.C. Beaton throws numerous threads into the unravelling of what should be a straightforward case as Agatha blunders around in search of a blatantly obvious motive, attempting to entertain with a humorous interlude to London, a coven of witches and a drug smoking nursing home patient. I will not elaborate on what little of substance there is contained within the plot but simply advise fellow readers luck in reading between the lines and filling in the gaping holes in what follows. Along with the paucity of detail, stilted dialogue and the appearance of a random dialect, the reader is left to join the dots and stomach an array of passé jokes. Given that the author is around the age of eighty, I really do feel that an editor familiar with current humour and trends could have ironed out some of the dated jokes and given the nonsensical sentence below appears on page three, even basic proofreading has clearly failed to be done:

    In a distinctly muted encounter the regular characters seem to have lost their sparkle and the plot in riddled with inconsistencies, continuity and typographical errors. It is beyond insulting when a bestsellers publisher allows a country’s name to change subsequent times in the course of a novel which is little over two-hundred-pages. This was just one of the instances, likewise whether Agatha’s cats were at her cottage or staying with her cleaner altered over the course of pages and whilst admittedly not drastic these niggles add up and irk over time. Agatha’s love life seems to occupy an overwhelming proportion of this story but is sadly largely based around the repetitive Sir Charles Fraith and James Lacey triangle. Disappointingly this focus on Agatha’s quest for an eligible man comes at the expense of her regular cast, DS Bill Wong, the vicar and Mrs Bloxby and young, determined and attractive investigator, Toni Gilmour.

    All in all I felt that this outing required a fair bit of work on behalf of the reader to stay with a meandering plot and accept audacious flashes of intuition with no rationale behind them. In fact Agatha managed to drag out a case which was all too straightforward and the plot is a cobbled together amalgamation of fragmented scenarios all marred by some flimsy characters who make fleeting appearances. I was somewhat disappointed to see quite a few overt sexual innuendos and a completely unwarranted mention of a gang rape element within the story, especially seeing at it didn’t even occur in the vicinity of the Cotswold and I do not consider it to have a place within a cosy crime mystery given that the genre is essentially light and frothy escapist pleasure.

    This is one for the Agatha loyalists only and has the feel of being rather rushed to publication, doing a complete disservice to her readers. For fans of cosy mysteries with an English village setting, the Agatha Raisin series is worth a bash, but in all honestly the pick of the novels are the earlier tales and the scenarios gets more contrived by the minute. Although this novel can be read as a standalone, it will undoubtedly work best for those already acquainted with the folk of Carsley and an awareness of the history amongst them.

  • Bam

    *3.5 stars rounded up.

    I read the last two Agatha Raisin books (#27 and 28) back-to-back and they did not suffer from doing that, although I kept looking for characters introduced in the previous book to reappear.

    This story does take place immediately after #27--it is now late fall and the story begins in the village of Sumpton Harcourt in the Cotswolds on a dark and foggy night where a body is found hanging in the witches' tree on the square. Very spooky!

    Sir Edward Chumble, a new arrival in t

    *3.5 stars rounded up.

    I read the last two Agatha Raisin books (#27 and 28) back-to-back and they did not suffer from doing that, although I kept looking for characters introduced in the previous book to reappear.

    This story does take place immediately after #27--it is now late fall and the story begins in the village of Sumpton Harcourt in the Cotswolds on a dark and foggy night where a body is found hanging in the witches' tree on the square. Very spooky!

    Sir Edward Chumble, a new arrival in the village and devotee of Agatha Christie, hires Agatha Raisin to solve the murder. He pictures himself as the local squire, standing before his fireplace, revealing all to an amazed and admiring crowd of the press, ala Hercule Poirot.

    When another body is found hanging in the tree, this time a young policeman, the feeling of menace grows. Is there a witches coven at work in the village? Are they dabbling in some unknown evil?

    Agatha bungles along in her haphazard way of investigating. What all-important question has she failed to ask?

    And her romantic life plods the same weary ruts. Should she try again with James? Is Charles more than just a friend with benefits? With her highly-sensitive ego, she gets hurt easily but wounds the others in equal doses. And then there is Gustav, Charles' factotum, who cannot stand poor Agatha and does his best to keep them apart. Maybe it's time for her to move on and get a fresh start?

    These cozy mysteries are fun, quick reads but hopefully the author will stir in some fresh ideas for Agatha in future outings.


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