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A Ghost in the Machine [Hardcover]

Caroline Graham
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Mar 2004

All men should have a hobby: it keeps them out from under their wives' feet. A bit of DIY, gardening, bowls or snooker, mysterious activities in the potting shed - fine. Dennis Brinkley's hobby, though, was killing machines. No wonder the village of Forbes Abbot was uneasy . . .

Mallory Lawson's believes that inheriting his aunt's beautiful house in Forbes Abbot may have saved his sanity, and perhaps even his life. It enables him to take early retirement from his appalling teaching job in London, and his wife Kate to realise her dream of starting her own company. Life will be so much gentler and simpler in the country, won't it?

But Forbes Abbot, for all its old-fashioned charm, is not quite the close-knit community it seems, and little differences and squabbles can become violent - even murderous. Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby has encountered many intriguing cases in his years on the force, but the case of the ghost in the machine is one to test even the most experienced of detectives.


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Headline (1 Mar 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0755307704
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755307708
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 15.4 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,200,622 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Put your tongue firmly in your cheek, turn each page genteely, and revel in the uncomplicated and thoroughly faux-English characters Graham creates' Tangled Web UK (Tangled Web UK)

'[A GHOST IN THE MACHINE] allows us to admire the novelist's wit and her ability to create exasperatingly real characters before getting down to the policing' Sunday Telegraph, 28/3/04 (Sunday Telegraph)

'Written with great relish and attention to detail, the descriptions of high summer and village life are glorious, and there is much droll humour here as Graham chronicles the ills of the modern world with a ruthless keen eye' Manchester Evening News 10/4/04 (Manchester Evening News)

'The mystery is intriguing, there are some interesting twists that kept my guessing to the end...a good read' Mystery Women (Mystery Women)

'A truly creepy ending' Scotsman, 1/5/04 (Scotsman)

'A curious whodunit in that it as far more discursive than normal and the characters more carefully drawn' Country Life, 18/3/04 (Country Life)

'Splendidly enjoyable' Publishing News, 17/9/04 (Publishing News)

'The entertainment level is top notch' Northern Echo, 16/3/2004 (Northern Echo)

'A witty, well-plotted, absolute joy of a book' Yorkshire Post, 6/4/04 (Yorkshire Post)

'Well-written, intelligently plotted, sharply observed, and leavened with wit' East Anglian Daily Times Suffolk magazine, April 2004 (East Anglian Daily Times Suffolk magazine)

'What a wonderful 'village' mystery. The characters of Forbes Abbot are brilliant. A fascinating storyline of quality detection' North Wales Chronicle, 4/3/2004 (North Wales Chronicle)

'The intricate plot is fascinating and the clutch of characters will keep you guessing whodunit for ages' Woman's Day, 12/4/04 (Woman's Day)

Book Description

The brilliant new Inspector Barnaby novel

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars . 5 May 2004
By RachelWalker TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
As the first Inspector Barnaby novel for five years, this is a veritable literary event. No wonder they take so long to write, so rich and detailed are they in their characterisations and plotting. 2004 is turning out to be a brilliant year for crime fiction in terms of long-awaited “events”. There is this, in Feb there was Reginald Hill’s “Good Morning, Midnight”, Boris Starling has just released his four-years-in-the-writing “Vodka” (I am reading it now; it is BRILLIANT) and coming in May we have Mo Hayder’s probably wonderful “Tokyo”. So, yes, a very very good year.
These, yes, are village mysteries, but they are a lot more than that. Graham’s books are big satisfying chunks of story, full of drama and eccentrics with a foundation in a great, wise intelligence. Through her enclosed, isolated village settings, she also uses that device to say some fascinating things about human nature, not just in villages, but in all societies. Her villages are intricately detailed societal microcosms of the wider world, rather than just the walls of a murder-mystery cross-word puzzle. This is what makes her stand out. This is what lifts her above a genre writer. Oh, and the quality of the writing.
The Lawsons are going to live in the country. The village of Forbes Abbot, to be precise. Mallory Lawson’s elderly aunt has passed away, leaving her house to her beloved nephew. There, Mallory and his wife hope to satisfy a life-long dream: set up a business. A small, independent publisher of select, quality fiction. However, the quiet life they expect to meet does not automatically present itself. Shortly before the move, a resident dies in a horrible accident.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This was torture - and not medieval either... 26 Jan 2012
Format:Paperback
I was expecting something like Midsomer Murders for obvious reasons. How wrong I was.

This is a long and slow book. The best slow books are like someone walking you through a museum they love and commenting on the exhibits and you are both excited together. This was like listening to a dull relative going on and on about different people they knew and wasting your time.

The audio book has 16 discs - sixteen! By the end of disc 3, there was still no murder - just me wanting to kill myself, or the author. She literally goes into detail about what everyone drinks, eats, pays for things... You could argue that it sets the scene - but 3 discs of it?

Read something gripping, not this.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sadly the last Barnaby book 16 Jan 2011
Format:Paperback
I have finally read this boook which has turned out,sadly,to be the last book featuring DI Barnaby and DS Troy, but it was worth the wait. Caroline Graham's books did not make the best storylines for the TV series as they cannot be told in a 2 hour episode. The plots are multi-layered, the characters fully and richly described and the twists and turns keep one guessing until the end. In "Ghost in the Machine! Barnaby and Troy have to wait for a long time before they make their entry whilst we learn about Mallory and Kate's inheritance and their removal to Midsomer country. It comes just as Mallory nearly has a breakdown because of stress at work and suddenly their dreams look like coming true. However there is a fly in the ointment, in the person of their student daughter Polly, who could have taught Goneril and Regan a thing or two about family loyalty and self-centered scheming. Other characters wind their way through the story, Bennie the simple old woman who had cared for Mallory's aunt; the neighbours, Ashley, the handsome invalid, and Judith, his jealously protective wife: Dennis, the introspective lawyer who owned the machine in the title; Andrew, Denis' useless partner and Gilda, his awful wife. When murder finally occurs all these people find that life will never be the same again.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Come on, Barnaby! 16 May 2010
Format:Paperback
Mysterious plot, fine characters etc. - all of the Graham trademarks are there in plenty.
Why only four stars this time then?
Well, first of all it takes too long before somebody is murdered! Should you lay off whodunits for a while when you are anxiously waiting for someone to get killed? Anyway, you'll have to worm your way through to page 120 before it happens, which means it takes even longer for Barnaby to "spring" into action. It says "A Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby Novel" on the cover (I checked more than once), and, in spite of his love for gardening, he's my hero and the one I want to read about. And what's this terrifying nonsense of Barnaby being six months short of retirement!!!???
Okay, the ins and outs of the Lawson family aren't exactly boring, and you do expect the spoiled daughter to meet her maker, the neighbour to kill her womanizer of a husband, or the unhappy lawyer to do his patronizing wife in, whenever you turn one of the first 120 pages. But as usual you're in for a few surprises.
I don't think this one has been "televised" yet, and I consider that a good thing, but I'm inclined to believe that the spiritualist church and the psychic medium have been used in "Things that Go Bump in the Night" (36), and the strange man building siege engines for a hobby found his way into "Hidden Depths" (41).
There are some very good and kind people living in Forbes Abbott, some of whom take very good and loving care of a sad little girl after her rather eccentric mother dies as a result of methanol poisoning. The girl turns out to have a remarkable "talent". A very touching story within the story.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Well Written
Caroline Graham is a great murder detective writer, her books keep you interested throughout and this one is no different, a very good read, if you enjoy the Barnaby cases you will... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Scott
5.0 out of 5 stars A Ghost in the Machine.
What a truly engrossing read this was. An accidental death soon proves to be a murder and Barnaby and Troy are on the case. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, entertaining, delightful
A young woman, an old woman and three married couples are the main suspects, and the source of Graham's gripping storytelling. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Cathy
5.0 out of 5 stars ANDREWS VIEW.
I DID ENJOY THIS STORY,DCI BARNABY AND SARGEANT TROY ARE ALWAYS BROUGHT INTO PRINT AS REAL AND BELEAVABLE CHARACTERS.KEEP WRITING.
Published 14 months ago by Andrew C. Fraser
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Book
Have not finished reading yet, but am enjoying it so far. I only read when I go to bed and usually fall asleep after 10 - 15 minutes
Published 14 months ago by carolemary
2.0 out of 5 stars Slow plot
The plot was slow and ponderous, found myself not caring what happened to any of the characters, didn't finish it.
Published 16 months ago by C Mall
1.0 out of 5 stars Never Ending Boredom
Why not just have a reasonable plot about the
murders and solving of them by Barnaby and Troy? This
book was about 300 pages too long going into the background
of... Read more
Published 20 months ago by avid reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Return to Midsomer
Caroline Graham returns to Midsomer county and DCI Tom Barnaby for the first time in several years, and fans of the series will not be disappointed. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Frank Adey
2.0 out of 5 stars One book too many
Because TV hijacked the characters from Midsomer Murders and changed them dramatically, the author was left rather high and dry. Read more
Published 22 months ago by folkfan
4.0 out of 5 stars Death and redemption in an English village
"A Ghost in the Machine" is as much an engrossing meditation on the always complicated relationships between parents and their children as it is a traditional village murder... Read more
Published on 19 Oct 2011 by Blue in Washington
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