Poor Lord Anselm! The dashing bachelor was forever plagued with dying relatives leaving their female children to his care. Indeed, he had squired so many a silly miss from schoolroom to marriage mart that he had sworn off woman altogether.
The current ward was far and away the worst. Cheeky as only a French girl could be, Yvonne de la Falaise had surely sent her papa to an early grave with her melodramatics and mischief. Thank goodness for her governess, Patricia Cottingham, so calm, so competent.
But all was not as it seemed, or so Anselm learned, and very nearly too late.
When private detective Agatha Raisin comes across a severed leg in a roadside hedge, it looks like she is about to become involved in a particularly gruesome murder. Looks, however, can be deceiving, as Agatha discovers when she is employed to investigate a case of industrial espionage at a factory where nothing is quite what it seems.
The factory mystery soon turns to murder and a bad-tempered donkey turns Agatha into a national celebrity, before bringing her ridicule and shame. To add to her woes, Agatha finds herself grappling with growing feelings for her friend and occasional lover, Sir Charles Fraith. Then, as a possible solution to the factory murder unfolds, her own life is thrown into deadly peril. Will Agatha get her man at last? Or will the killer get her first?
The idyllic Cotswolds village of Thirk Magna is best known for the medieval church of St. Ethelred and its bells, which are the pride and glory of the whole community.
As the bell-ringers get ready for the visit of the dashing Bishop Peter Salver-Hinkley, the whole village is thrown into a frenzy. Meanwhile, Agatha convinces one of the bell-ringers, the charming lawyer Julian Brody, to hire her to investigate the mystery of the Bishop’s ex-fiancée: a local heiress, Jennifer Toynby, who went missing years ago and whose body was never found...
Meanwhile, the bodies in the village just keep on piling up: the corpse of Larry Jensen, a local policeman, is discovered in the crypt. Millicent Dupin, one of a pair of bell-ringing identical twins, is murdered near the church. And Terry Fletcher, a journalist and (briefly) Agatha’s lover, is found dead in her sitting room! Agatha widens her investigation and very soon her main suspect is the handsome Bishop himself. But could he really be behind this series of violent killings, or is it someone who wants to bring him—and his reputation—down?