M Beaton: Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist

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M Beaton Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist
  • Название:
    Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist
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  • Жанр:
    Детектив / на английском языке
  • Язык:
    Английский
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The tough and brassy Agatha Raisin is not a woman to sit at home wringing her hands. Soon she is off to north Cyprus to track down her ex-fiance. Instead of enjoying the honeymoon they once planned, however, they witness the murder of an obnoxious tourist in a disco, and James is as sullen as usual. Two sets of terrible tourists – one set posh and rude, the other nouveau riche and vulgar – surround the unhappy couple, arousing Agatha's suspicions. And, much to James's chagrin, she won't rest until she finds the killer. Unfortunately, it also seems the killer won't rest until Agatha is out of the picture. Agatha is forced to track down the murderer, try to rekindle her romance with James, and fend off a suave baronet, all while coping with the fact that it's always bathing suit season in north Cyprus.

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M C Beaton


Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist

The sixth book in the Agatha Raisin series, 1997

This book is dedicated

with love and affection to

Jackie and Bilal,

and

Emine and Altay.


ONE

AGATHA Raisin was a bewildered and unhappy woman. Her marriage to her next-door neighbour, James Lacey, had been stopped by the appearance of a husband she had assumed-hopefully-to be dead. But he was very much alive, that was, until he was murdered. Solving the murder had, thought Agatha, brought herself and James close again, but he had departed for north Cyprus, leaving her alone.

Although life in the Cotswold village of Carsely had softened Agatha around the edges, she was still in part the hard-bitten business woman she had been when she had run her own public-relations firm in Mayfair before selling up, taking early retirement and moving to the country. And so she had decided to pursue James.

Cyprus, she knew, was partitioned into two parts, with Turkish Cypriots in the north and Greek Cypriots in the south. James had gone to the north and somewhere, somehow, she would find him and make him love her again.

North Cyprus was where they had been supposed to go on their honeymoon and, in her less tender moments, Agatha thought it rather hard-hearted and crass of James Lacey to have gone there on his own.

When Mrs. Bloxby, the vicar’s wife, called, it was to find Agatha amidst piles of brightly coloured summer clothes.

“Are you taking all those with you?” asked Mrs. Bloxby, pushing a strand of grey hair out of her eyes.

“I don’t know how long I will be there,” said Agatha. “I’d better take lots.”

Mrs. Bloxby looked at her doubtfully. Then she said, “Do you think you are doing the right thing? I mean, men do not like to be pursued.”

“How else do you get one?” demanded Agatha angrily. She picked up a swim-suit, one-piece, gold and black, and looked at it critically.

“I have doubts about James Lacey,” said Mrs. Bloxby in her gentle voice. “He always struck me as being a cold, rather self-contained man.”

“You don’t know him,” said Agatha defensively, thinking of nights in bed with James, tumultuous nights, but silent nights during which he had not said one word of love. “Anyway, I need a holiday.”

“Don’t be away too long. You’ll miss us all.”

“There’s not much to miss about Carsely. The Ladies Society, the church fetes, yawn.”

“That’s a bit cruel, Agatha. I thought you enjoyed them.”

But Agatha felt that a Carsely without James had suddenly become a bleak and empty place, filled from end to end with nervous boredom.

“Where are you flying from?”

“ Stansted Airport in Essex.”

“How will you get there?”

“I’ll drive and leave the car in the long-stay car-park.”

“But if you are going to be away for very long, that will cost you a fortune. Let me drive you.”

But Agatha shook her head. She wanted to leave Carsely, sleepy Carsely with its gentle villagers and thatched-roof cottages, behind and everything to do with it.

The doorbell rang. Agatha opened the door and Detective Sergeant Bill Wong walked in and looked around.

“So you’re really going?” he remarked.

“Yes, and don’t you try to stop me either, Bill.”

“I don’t think Lacey’s worth all this effort, Agatha.”

“It’s my life.”

Bill smiled. He was half Chinese and half English, in his mid-twenties, and Agatha’s first friend, for before she moved to the Cotswolds she had lived in a hard-bitten and friendless world.

“Go if you must. Can you bring me back a box of Turkish delight for my mother?”

“Sure,” said Agatha.

“She says you must come over for dinner when you get back.”

Agatha repressed a shudder. Mrs. Wong was a dreadful woman and a lousy cook.

She went into the kitchen to make coffee and cut cake and soon they were all sitting around and gossiping about local matters. Agatha felt her resolve begin to weaken. She had a sudden clear picture of James Lacey’s face turning hard and cold when he saw her again, but thrust it out of her mind.

She was going and that was that.

Stansted Airport was a delight to Agatha after her previous experience of the terrible crowds at Heathrow. She found she could not only smoke in the departure lounge but at the gate itself. There were a few British tourists and expatriates. The expatriates were distinguishable from the tourists because they wore those sort of clothes that the breed always wear-the women in print frocks, the men in lightweight suits or blazers, the inevitable cravats-and all had those strangulated sons-and daughters-of-the-Raj voices. Colonial Britain seemed to be alive and well on Turkish Cypriot Airways.

As she sat in the gate, she was surrounded mainly by Turkish voices. Her fellow passengers all seemed to have great piles of hand luggage.

The flight departure was announced. Those in the smoking seats were called first. With a happy sigh Agatha made her way onto the plane. She had burnt her boats behind her. There was no turning back now.

The plane soared above the grey, rainy skies and flat fields of Essex and all the passengers applauded wildly. Why were they applauding? wondered Agatha. Do they know something I don’t? Is it unusual for one of their planes to take off at all?

The minute the plane wheels were up, the “No Smoking” sign clicked off and Agatha was soon surrounded by a fog of cigarette smoke. She had a window-seat and next to her was a large Turkish Cypriot woman who smiled at her from time to time. Agatha took out a book and began to read.

Then, just as the plane was starting to descend to Izmir in western Turkey, where she knew they would have to wait for an hour before taking off again, the plane was hit by the most awful turbulence. The hostesses clung on to the trolleys, which lurched dangerously from side to side. Agatha began to pray under her breath. No one else seemed in the slightest fazed. They fastened their seat-belts and chattered amiably away in Turkish. The expats seemed used to it, and the few tourists like Agatha were frightened to let down the British side by showing fear.

Just when she thought the plane would shake itself apart, the lights of Izmir appeared below and soon they landed. Again, everyone applauded, this time Agatha joining in.

“That was scary,” said Agatha to the woman next to her.

“It was a bit o’ fun, love,” said the Turkish Cypriot woman speaking English in the accents of London ’s East End. “I mean, you’d pay for somethin’ like that at Disney World.”

After an hour, the plane took off again. Between Turkey and Cyprus they were served with a hard square of bread and goat cheese which looked as if it had been stamped out of a machine, washed down with sour-cherry juice.

Agatha felt the plane beginning to descend again. More turbulence, this time a thunderstorm. The plane lurched and bucked like a wild thing and, looking out of the window, Agatha saw to her dismay that the whole plane appeared to be covered in sheets of blue lightning. Again, the passengers smiled and chatted and smoked.

Agatha could not keep quiet any longer. “He shouldn’t try to land in this weather,” she said to the woman next to her.

“Oh, they can land in anything, luv. Pilot’s Turkish. They’re good.”

“Ladies and gentles,” said a soothing voice. “We are shortly about to land at Erçan Airport.”

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