My first Caroline Graham, but not my last. A beautifully crafted murder mystery, blending peaceful village life with the unpleasantness of modern living. At its centre is the writing group of Midsomer Worthy, and when one of the group is brutally killed, the guest speaker is the main suspect. Gradually the police untie the knots, dig out the secrets, stir up everyone's lives, and unmask the murderer. Sounds like a thousand other crime stories, so why was I gripped from first page to last by this fascinating book ? Partly because it is so skilfully written, with witty, flowing dialogue and characters wonderfully brought to life. Partly because of the great pair of policemen, the good-hearted but grumpy Barnaby, and Troy, the insecure sergeant, and the crackly relationship between them. Partly because of what makes this good book into a great one - the colourful minor characters, all so interesting that one never minded leaving the main story for a while to enter their lives. Like patient,artistic Sue, who finally rebels against her appalling wimp of a husband. That's Brian, so awful that he is wonderful - the seduction scene where he gets his come-uppance is hilarious. And elderly Rex, who is devastated when he finds that he isn't as brave as he thought he was. Great fun to read, terrible to come to the end. I can and will meet Barnaby and Troy again, but what happens to all the others ? I can only hope that Caroline Graham works this magic in all her books.