M Beaton: There Goes The Bride

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M Beaton There Goes The Bride
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    There Goes The Bride
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Agatha's former husband James is engaged to be married to a beautiful, young woman and Agatha has been kindly invited to the wedding. To take her mind off this, Agatha decides she has fallen for Sylvan, a Frenchman she met at James' engagement party. To distract her still further she decides upon a holiday and flies to Istanbul, where unfortunately she bumps into James and his fiance not once but twice – convincing him she is stalking them. So when the bride is murdered on her wedding day, naturally Agatha is Suspect Number One – but then matters are turned on their head when the dead bride's mother engages Agatha to take on the case of her murdered daughter! And very soon Agatha's own life is in danger while she tries to solve the mystery of the corpse bride while fighting off (halfheartedly) the advances of a very attractive and determined Frenchman!

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M C Beaton

There Goes The Bride

Book 20 in the Agatha Raisin series, 2009

This book is dedicated with love to my husband,

Harry Scott Gibbons

Agatha Raisin

AGATHA RAISIN WAS born in a tower block slum in Birmingham and christened Agatha Styles. No middle names. Agatha had often longed for at least two middle names such as Caroline or Olivia. Her parents, Joseph and Margaret Styles, were both unemployed and both drunks. They lived on benefits and the occasional bout of shoplifting.

Agatha attended the local comprehensive as a rather shy and sensitive child but quickly developed a bullying, aggressive manner so that the other pupils would steer clear of her.

When she was fifteen, her parents decided it was time she earned her keep and her mother found her work in a biscuit factory, checking packets of biscuits on a conveyor belt for any faults.

As soon as Agatha had squirrelled away enough money, she ran off to London and found work as a waitress and did a secretarial course at evening classes. But she fell in love with a customer at the restaurant, Jimmy Raisin. Jimmy had curly black hair and bright blue eyes and a great deal of charm. He seemed to have plenty of money to throw around. He wanted an affair but, besotted as she was, Agatha held out for marriage.

They moved into one room in a lodging house in Finsbury Park where Jimmy’s money soon ran out (he would never say where it came from in the first place). And he drank. Agatha found she had escaped the frying pan into the fire. She was fiercely ambitious. One night, when she came home and found Jimmy stretched out on the bed dead drunk, she packed her things and escaped. She found work as a secretary at a public relations firm and soon moved into doing public relations herself. Her mixture of bullying and cajoling brought her success. She saved and saved until she could start her own business.

But Agatha had always been a dreamer. Years back when she had been a child her parents had taken her on one glorious holiday. They had rented a cottage in the Cotswolds for a week. Agatha never forgot that golden holiday or the beauty of the countryside.

So as soon as she had amassed a great deal of money, she took early retirement and bought a cottage in the village of Carsely in the Cotswolds. Her first attempt at detective work came after she cheated at a village quiche-baking competition by putting a shop-bought quiche in as her own. The judge died of poisoning and shamed Agatha had to find the real killer. Her adventures there are covered in the first Agatha Raisin mystery, The Quiche of Death, and in the series of novels that follow. As successful as she is in detecting, she constantly remains unlucky in love. Will she ever find happiness with the man of her dreams? Watch this space!

Chapter One

ONE OF AGATHA Raisin’s greatest character defects was that she was highly competitive.

Her former employee, young Toni Gilmour, had set up her own detective agency, financed by another of Agatha’s ex-detectives, Harry Beam. Agatha worked around the clock, taking on every case for her own detective agency she could in order to prove that the mature could beat the young hands-down.

Then there was the awful business about her ex-husband, James Lacey, planning to marry a beautiful woman. Agatha had persuaded herself that she no longer had any feelings for James because she had fallen for a Frenchman, Sylvan Dubois, whom she had met at James’s engagement party.

But stressed out and overworked, she had taken a tumble down the stairs of her cottage, cracking three ribs and severely bruising one buttock.

Urged by everyone to take a break, she decided to go to Paris after finding Sylvan’s phone number through the Internet. They would stroll the boulevards together and love would blossom. But when she phoned him, he sounded distant and then she heard a young female voice call out in English, ‘Come back to bed, darling.’

Blushing, and furious with herself, Agatha found her old obsession with James Lacey surfacing again. It was like some disease, gone for long stretches, but always recurring.

Agatha remembered that James had accused her of never having listened to him. He worked as a travel writer but had said that he planned to write a series of guidebooks to famous battlefields. Dreaming of surprising him with her knowledge of his subject, Agatha decided to visit the site of the Charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimea and so take that holiday everyone was telling her she needed badly.

She would go first to Istanbul and take it from there. She had stayed in Istanbul before, at the Pera Palace Hotel, made famous by Agatha Christie in her book Murder on the Orient Express, but settled on booking a room at a hotel on the other side of the Golden Horn in the Sultan Ahmet district, under the shadow of the Blue Mosque.

The Artifes Hotel was comfortable and the staff were friendly. Agatha, although tired after the flight, felt restless. She peered in the mirror and saw the ravages of her competitiveness clearly for the first time. She had lost weight and there were dark shadows under her eyes.

She left her suitcase unopened and wandered out of the hotel. There was an interesting café close by, the Marmara Café. She peered in. The walls were lined with carpets. At the end of the long café was a vine-covered terrace.

But the tables on the terrace seemed full. Agatha hesitated.

A man rose to his feet and said in English, ‘I’ll be leaving shortly.’

Agatha sat down opposite him with a sigh of relief. She saw to her delight that there was an ashtray on the table and pulled out her cigarettes.

‘Are you English?’ she asked her new companion.

‘No, I am Turkish-Cypriot. My name is Erol Fehim.’

Agatha assessed him. He was a small neat man wearing a good jacket. He had glasses and grey hair. He exuded an air of innocence and kindness. Agatha was immediately reminded of her friend, the vicar’s wife, Mrs Bloxby.

She introduced herself in turn and then ordered an apple tea.

‘What brings you to Istanbul?’ asked Erol.

Agatha explained she was stopping off at the Artifes Hotel until she worked out a way to get to Balaclava in the Crimea. ‘I’m staying at the same hotel,’ said Erol. ‘We could ask there.’

Lonely Agatha warmed to the sound of that ‘we’.

It transpired there was a weekend shopping cruise from the Crimea returning to Balaclava on the following day. The helpful Erol said he would go with her to the shipping office. It took them ages back on the other side of the Golden Horn to find it. Agatha was grateful for Erol’s company because nobody spoke English. She booked a double cabin, not wanting to share with anyone.

Back at the hotel, the ever-obliging Erol told her he was busy that evening but he would take her along to the ship early the following afternoon and see her off.

Agatha phoned her friend Sir Charles Fraith. ‘Where are you?’ he asked.

‘In Istanbul.’

‘Great city, Aggie, but you’re supposed to be taking a rest. Wouldn’t a beach holiday have been better?’

‘I don’t like beach holidays. I’ve met a nice man.’


‘He’s really very kind. Reminds me of Mrs Bloxby.’


‘Aha, what?’ demanded Agatha crossly.

‘He must be a very normal, decent man.’

‘He is.’

‘I thought so. If he had been unattainable or mad, bad and dangerous to know, you’d have fallen for him.’

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