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Christmas Crumble
Cover of Christmas Crumble
Christmas Crumble
An Agatha Raisin Mystery

Christmas Crumble continues the tradition in M. C. Beaton's beloved Agatha Raisin mystery series—now a hit show on Acorn TV and public television.

At home alone for the holidays, Agatha Raisin decides to host a dinner party for the elder residents in her Cotswold village of Winter Parva. Agatha's never been much of a homemaker, but she's dead-set on making this the perfect holiday for the "crumblies," as she affectionately calls them. She's decorated a tree while fending off her cats Hodge and Boswell, and even made a (lumpy) Christmas pudding in between swigs of rum. But when Agatha dumps the pudding on the head of the local self-proclaimed lothario—an eighty-five year old with a beer belly and fingers like sausages—his death by dessert proves more than a trifle as mysteries mount higher than the season's snowfall. So much for trying to do good by her neighbors. Now Agatha needs no less than a Christmas miracle to get herself out of this one...

Deck the halls with boughs of folly this Christmas with Agatha Raisin, a modern-day Miss Marple, who Publishers Weekly calls "an absolute gem!"

Christmas Crumble continues the tradition in M. C. Beaton's beloved Agatha Raisin mystery series—now a hit show on Acorn TV and public television.

At home alone for the holidays, Agatha Raisin decides to host a dinner party for the elder residents in her Cotswold village of Winter Parva. Agatha's never been much of a homemaker, but she's dead-set on making this the perfect holiday for the "crumblies," as she affectionately calls them. She's decorated a tree while fending off her cats Hodge and Boswell, and even made a (lumpy) Christmas pudding in between swigs of rum. But when Agatha dumps the pudding on the head of the local self-proclaimed lothario—an eighty-five year old with a beer belly and fingers like sausages—his death by dessert proves more than a trifle as mysteries mount higher than the season's snowfall. So much for trying to do good by her neighbors. Now Agatha needs no less than a Christmas miracle to get herself out of this one...

Deck the halls with boughs of folly this Christmas with Agatha Raisin, a modern-day Miss Marple, who Publishers Weekly calls "an absolute gem!"

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  • Chapter One )

    Agatha Raisin, private detective, and her friend Mrs. Bloxby, the vicar's wife, sat in the shabby vicarage drawing room in the Cotswold village of Carsely one Saturday in late November, drinking coffee and looking out at a vista of sleety rain driving across the tombstones of the churchyard at the end of the garden.

    "Are you going away for Christmas, Mrs. Raisin?" asked Mrs. Bloxby. Both women still addressed each other by their surnames, a fashion started in the now defunct Ladies Society but which they kept up.

    "I might have a Christmas party here," said Agatha.

    "But you tried that before!" exclaimed Mrs. Bloxby.

    "This time it will be all right," said Agatha mulishly. Mrs. Bloxby surveyed her with affectionate exasperation. Good detective though she was and the very picture of modern woman from her glossy brown hair to her patent leather high boots, Mrs. Bloxby reflected, not for the first time, that there was a part of Agatha that had never grown up.

    "People are apt to chase after a romantic image of Christmas which does not exist," said Mrs. Bloxby cautiously. She brushed a wisp of hair from her face and looked anxiously at her friend. "Most of the population only experience a spiritual feeling of awe when they are small children and look on Santa Claus for the first time. That's what they remember and are ever after chasing that magic."

    "I never met Santa Claus," said Agatha, thinking of her own deprived childhood in a Birmingham slum.

    "I think," pursued Mrs. Bloxby, "that the true Christmas feeling is thinking and caring about other people--like the elderly and infirm, say."

    Agatha brightened. "Great idea."

    "What?" asked Mrs. Bloxby nervously.

    "There are a lot of crumblies in this village. I mean sometimes the Cotswolds feel like God's waiting room. Come in, number five, says a voice from the heavens. Your number's up. I'll give them a slap-up Christmas dinner."

    "They will probably be having Christmas with their families. But come to think of it, I do know six elderly people who were left alone last Christmas."

    "That's a nice little number," said Agatha. "I'm always working, so I'm a bit out of touch with the villagers. Who are they?"

    "There's Mrs. Matilda Glossop, Mr. Harry Dunster, Mr. Jake Turnbull, Miss Freda Pinch, Mr. Simon Trent and..."

    She hesitated. "And who?" prompted Agatha.

    "There's Len Leech, but he can be difficult."

    "How difficult?"

    "He fancies himself as a ladies' man."

    "How old is he?"

    "I believe he's in his eighties."

    Agatha laughed. "He's at the Look, don't touch age. I can handle that."

    Mrs. Bloxby turned pink. "He pinched my bottom. And in the church!"

    "The old devil. Maybe he got you mixed up with Pippa Middleton. What did you do?"

    "I preferred to ignore it."

    "I'd have hit him with my handbag. Don't worry. I'll cope. Have you their addresses?"

    Mrs. Bloxby rose and walked over to an old bureau. Opened a drawer and pulled out a large ledger. "I keep all the names and addresses of the parishioners in here."

    Agatha took out a notebook. "Fire away. I'll give this lot of crumblies the best Christmas they have ever had."

    Matilda Glossop was a fine-looking woman in her late seventies. She had a pleasant face, thick white hair and brown eyes. She stared down at the pretty invitation card Agatha had sent her and felt tears well up in her eyes. Matilda had met Agatha at a fundraiser and had found her to be a rather terrifying woman. On the other hand, her son and daughter had written--not phoned--to say they were spending Christmas in the Bahamas. The year before, it had been the Maldives....

About the Author-
  • M. C. Beaton (1936-2019), the "Queen of Crime" (The Globe and Mail), was the author of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling Agatha Raisin novels — the basis for the hit show on Acorn TV and public television — as well as the Hamish Macbeth series and the Edwardian Murder Mysteries featuring Lady Rose Summer. Born in Scotland, she started her career writing historical romances under several pseudonyms and her maiden name, Marion Chesney.

    In 2006, M.C. was the British guest of honor at Bouchercon.

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    St. Martin's Publishing Group
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Christmas Crumble
Christmas Crumble
An Agatha Raisin Mystery
M. C. Beaton
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