married. The thought that James might just have said that to get off the hook was something she did not even want to contemplate.

“So what’s been happening?” asked Agatha lightly. “No crime?”

“No murders for you,” said the vicar’s wife. “Very quiet.”

“Who’s bought the cottage next door?”

“We don’t know. There’s a newcomer to our ladies’ society, a Mrs. Anstruther-Jones. She’s just moved into the village. She wanted the cottage but someone else got it first, so she bought Pear Tree Cottage…you know the one, behind the village stores.”

“What’s she like?”

“You can judge for yourself. There’s a meeting tonight.”

“Meaning you don’t like her.”

“Now, I never said that.”

“If you don’t have a good word to say for anyone, you don’t say anything. How’s Miss Simms?”

Miss Simms was secretary of the ladies’ society, an unmarried mother.

“Miss Simms has a new gentleman friend. He’s in sofas.”

“Married, I suppose.”

“I think so. Listen to that. The rain is on again. It’s been raining since you left.”

The doorbell rang. “I’m off,” said Mrs. Bloxby.

Agatha opened the door and found Detective Sergeant Bill Wong on the doorstep. “Hullo,” said Mrs. Bloxby. “See you tonight, Mrs. Raisin.”

“I thought you women would be on first-name terms by now,” said Bill, following Agatha through to the kitchen.

“It’s tradition in the ladies’ society that we use second names, and in this over-familiar touchy-feely world, I rather like it,” said Agatha. “Coffee?”

“Yes. I see you haven’t given up smoking.”

“Did I even say I would try?” demanded Agatha with all the truculence of the heavily addicted.

“Thought you might.”

“Never mind that. Here’s your coffee. How’s crime?”

“Nothing dramatic. Nothing but the usual cut-backs. Village police stations are closing down all round. Did you know they had closed Carsely police station?”


“Yes, and the one at Chipping Campden and the one in Blockley. So we spend most of our time on the road. Someone called nine-nine-nine last night and howled it was an emergency. Got there and found it was her cat stuck up a tree.”

“And how’s your love life?”

“On hold.”

Agatha looked at him sympathetically. Bill had a Chinese father and an English mother, the combination of which had given him attractive almond-shaped eyes in a round face and a pleasant Gloucestershire accent. “How’s yours?” asked Bill.


Agatha saw Bill was about to ask about James, so she began to describe her odd feeling about the couple on Robinson Crusoe Island.

“It sounds to me as if you were bored and looking for a bit of action, Agatha.”

“On the contrary, I wasn’t bored at all. I met some super people. Still…there was something odd there. And I saw a couple in Evesham yesterday who reminded me of them.”

“You’d better find some work quickly or you’ll be seeing crime everywhere. Thinking of doing any public relations work?”

“I might.” Agatha had once run a highly successful public relations company but had sold up to take early retirement and move to the country. Since then, she had often taken on freelance work. “Public relations is a different world now,” she said. “It used to be you were neither fish nor fowl. Despised by the journalists and the advertising people as if you weren’t doing a real job. Now the public relations people are often celebrities themselves.”

“I hear Charles is married.”

“So what?”

“Oh, well,” said Bill hurriedly. “I’d better get on. Let me know if you stumble across any dead bodies. I could do with a change.”


After he had left, Agatha switched on her computer to see if she had any e-mail. There was one from Roy Silver, a young man who used to work for her, asking where she was; and one from Dolores, the pretty young Chilean girl. To Agatha’s dismay, it was all in Spanish, but she noticed the names Concita and Pablo Ramon. She printed it off and then drove to the Falconry Restaurant in Evesham, where the owner, Juan, was Spanish, and asked him for a translation.

“She says,” said Juan, “‘Dear Agatha, Such excitement. Do you remember the couple, Pablo and Concita Ramon? Well, Pablo has just been arrested. It is in all the newspapers. Concita was drowned on Robinson Crusoe Island and Pablo said she fell out of the boat. But a hiker up on the hills saw him push her. He knew she could not swim. He had her heavily insured and her family are very wealthy. How are you? Let me know. Love, Dolores.’”

So that’s why he seemed to be waiting, thought Agatha. He was just waiting for the right opportunity. She wished now she had said something, let him know she was on to him. But she hadn’t really noticed anything significant at all.


Agatha sat at the ladies’ society meeting that night as Miss Simms, the secretary, in her usual unsuitable dress of tiny skirt, bare midriff, pierced navel and stiletto heels went through the minutes of the last meeting. The teacups clattered, plates of cake were passed round, and outside the rain drummed down on the vicarage garden. Mrs. Anstruther-Jones turned out to be one of those well-upholstered pushy women with a loud braying voice. Agatha detested her on sight. She could feel some of her old misery creeping back again and tried the breathing exercises she had been taught and, to her amazement, felt herself beginning to relax. She would phone Roy and see if he had any work for her. James was gone and Charles was gone and Agatha Raisin was grimly determined to move on.

? The Day the Floods Came ?


Agatha found it hard, as winter moved into spring, to keep up her spirits. It was the rain – steady, remorseless rain. Water dripped from cherry blossom trees in the village gardens and yellow daffodils drooped under the onslaught.

And then in April, following a day of heavy cloudbursts, a watery sunshine gilded the puddles in Lilac Lane. Agatha set off for her Pilates class, to which she was now thoroughly addicted, the only healthy addiction she had ever had in her life. Just before the bridge on the Cheltenham Road in Evesham, she let out an exclamation of disgust. The police were diverting the traffic. She swung right. She was the leading car. Other cars followed her. If I make a left along here, she thought, it’ll take me down to Waterside. She cruised down the hill and then jammed on the brakes with an exclamation of dismay. Waterside had gone. The river Avon was rising up the hill before her. She signalled to the other cars that she was going to reverse, made a three-point turn and decided to head out on the ring road over the Simon de Montfort Bridge and approach Evesham from the top road.

Cars were slowing over the bridge to look at the drowned fields on either side. She turned into Evesham and parked in the car park at Merstow Green. She decided to walk down to the Workman Bridge and view the extent of the flooding. She walked down Bridge Street, which is a steep hill leading down to the arch of the Workman Bridge. As she approached, she could see that Pont Street on the other side of the bridge was under water. Water surged past the houses on the waterfront. Two people outside Magpie Antiques were desperately hanging on to a doorway

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