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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 3 June 2004
This is my favourite Caroline Graham novel, quite simply because it's flawless. I was glued from beginning to end by the characters, the setting, the insights, the intrigue..... what I love about her craft is that she weaves so many seemingly different stories into one with such depth of detail. Her murders are never simple!

I think this may be the 'darkest' of her works, and that's why I love it so much. She never shys away from taboo subjects and her creepy characters are never ridiculous but very chilling.

If you like to guess a different conclusion at every chapter and sweat right along with Barnaby then you'll love this perfect country murder. I also highly recommend the screen adaptation with an excellent cast who truly bring the book to life.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 7 November 2009
I had long wanted to read a Caroline Graham crime novel to compare with the popular TV series, the early ephisodes being largely based on her novels- but not the later ones.

The novel is pacy, but not over-so, well-written and as one might expect there is considerably more characterisation and local detail than on TV. Graham's strong suit is giving the main characters a credible background history, which makes their behaviour much more explicable and interesting. That said, the TV was a generally faithful adaptation. Basically Graham writes a 20th/21st C version of Agatha Christie but with stronger characterisation, a bit more nastiness and of course more sex (or perhaps we should just say sex), although its not over-emphasised.

The details of the style of dress of the female characters in particular is notable; most of them are fairly eccentric, or extremely selfish and/or nasty personalities! I won't give away anything of the plot but would highly recommend this to anyone who is familiar with Inspector Barnaby as portrayed by John Nettles. The twist is suitably gripping if not entirely unexpected. Highly recommended. Also this first book provides the amusing details of Barnaby's wife's complete inability to cook!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Graham's crime fiction is often of the gentle Miss Marple type and Barnaby is a loveable character, easy on the eye and brain. However this novel has some clout in it. This is not a tale of gentle village life but of the running sores which poison the undergrowth. Amongst the pretty flowers and plants there is greed and there are feuds. Complicated relationships have Barnaby on his toes grappling with age-old ills and gripes which have festered. This is rich in plot and characters. A very good read indeed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
TOP 50 REVIEWERon 16 April 2014
"The Killings at Badger's Drift" by Caroline Graham is first in her series of books that introduced character Inspector Barnaby.

The book starts with the death of an old woman, presumably of natural causes, who while hunting orchids in the peaceful area around the Badger's Drift village saw couple having sex.
Her friend Miss Bellringer suspected she was murdered and due to that she called Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby to investigate it.

Detective Barnaby will start his investigation and with each page turned, a reader will be more immersed into the shocking events so incompatible with the appearance of this peaceful English place.
He will discover fraud, infidelity, blackmail, murder - more than he could ever imagine...

This book by Caroline Graham is classic example of the police procedural due to the mystery murder type.

The book is well-written with its author elegant and concise style, although the entire book premise of such small place hiding so much crime and astonishing secrets seems a bit unbelievable.
Regardless of the crimes that will be slowly revealing, the book contains lot of famous subtle English humor therefore it's easy and enjoyable to read.

The only drawback I had with it is its characters that although good are not completely believable.
They seem a bit uninteresting, even a bit stereotypical that makes the book a little less authentic and possible in real life.

It would be interesting to see some other detective characters created by some authors instead of Detective Barnaby.

Overall, this is good thriller for your consideration although it's of bit less quality compared to some other police procedural thriller types like J.D. Robb, P. D. James or James Patterson.
Nevertheless, it's still book that can be recommended for all those thriller fans that are in search for new interesting series.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
No more "fun" for the Rainbirds, though one of them survives, which is one of the details that differs from the TV plot as I remember. Another is that Detective Sergeant Gavin Troy appears to be an expert though somewhat aggressive driver and not as hopeless as visualized in Midsomer Murders.
Anyway it's an excellent murder mystery, and it doesn't really matter whether you've seen on the telly or not. I even read it after Written in Blood, which is the wrong way around, but I don't think it matters much either. Of course there are introductions to the main characters in this one but I would imagine most feel they know them pretty well already. I believe that the TV producers are generally very fair and true to Caroline Graham's characters, e.g. Troy's homophobia is portrayed expertly.
Graham commands a challenging use of the English language - there's a lot to learn for someone like me. She definitely exhausted my otherwise impressive and ever helpful Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary (sixth edition, 2000), though it may well be too much to expect the dictionary to list all flowers by Latin, English and nick name and every sort and shade of bathroom tiles etc.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
It is hard to find any fault with an author who dedicates her novel to Christianna Brand, one of my favourite mystery authors of all time. This is the first in the Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby novels - I have never watched Midsomer Murders - so I came to the book without preconceptions and I absolutely loved it. Barnaby is a great character, likeable and mildly stern, with a deep love for his wife Joyce and a liking for his job that he is slightly uncomfortable with.

When elderly Miss Simpson is murdered in her own home, the death is first considered a natural one. Yet questions are raised by her friend Lucy Bellringer, who points out that Emily Simpson had behaved out of character in ways which suggested all was not as simple as it looked. Agreeing to look into the matter, Barnaby uncovers a wealth of secrets in the picture perfect English village of Badger's Drift, and more than one murder...

There is a great cast of characters, including the creepy Dennis Rainbird and his mother, the luckless Sergeant Troy and Dr Lessiter, his lovelorn daughter and unfaithful wife. The book is well plotted, interesting and I am sure that I will be reading the rest of the series.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Miss Simpson is found dead in her cottage. Her friend Lucy Bellringer does not believe it is natural causes and Chief Inspector Barnaby starts to think she might be right though his first impressions were that she just did not want to accept her friend was dead. He uncovers a web of secrets in the village of Badger's Drift including a particularly creepy undertaker and his even creepier mother.

This is the first book by Caroline Graham I've read and I am impressed by her writing. I thought her characters were convincing and well drawn and the plot is excellent. I didn't work out who the murderer was until very close to the end of the book. While there is an extremely unpleasant murder part way through the book it isn't described in graphic detail and is probably all the more shocking because it isn't described.

I like DI Barnaby and his sidekick Sgt Troy with his lady killing tendencies and his radical left wing views. I have never watched the TV series of Midsummer Murders but I definitely like this book and I shall be going on to read the rest of the series. If you like traditional murder mysteries with a village setting then try Caroline Graham's novels.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 12 March 2011
As an avid watcher of Midsomer Murders I was unsure if I would like the original novel. However, I found Caroline Graham an intelligent writer with an unusual turn of phrase at times. The character of Barnaby was slightly different to (and perhaps more complex than) the depiction by John Nettles, but not too much to be confusing.
This was a most enjoyable read, and I will be reading the rest of her Barnaby stories as a consequence.
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on 18 March 2014
I first read this book many years ago and thought I would revisit it. As soon as I read the opening chapter I remembered whodunnit, but that didn't matter too much. Badger's Drift is a lovely village inhabited by almost exclusively awful people. Inspector Barnaby is badgered into looking into the death of an elderly spinster, Miss Simpson, by her friend Miss Bellringer. In the course of the novel we encounter different characters, none of whom are obvious murderers of poor Miss Simpson unless... I enjoyed the Barnaby character much more than Troy, whose chip on his shoulder is likely to impair his visión. Barnaby is not literary, as are Wexford and Dalgliesh but loves his garden. The plot is good and well-paced. I wonder if the author would give the readers a clue in the age of google.
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on 9 July 2013
I have watched many of the tv stories so when I was given the unabridged audio book was very pleased. However I fell asleep repeatedly trying to listen to 8 hrs 40 mins of this! The kindle version was ideal, and I have now succeeded in reaching the end of the story without feeling that life really wasn't long enough for this book.
There are some differences in the story, comparing the book to the tv adaptation, presumably to make better viewing, but it's basically the same, and very enjoyable. Readers who have already seen the tv adaptation will find the Barnaby / Troy relationship
interestingly different.
Very good reading. I'd recommend the kindle version however, or the actual book, for reasons stated above!
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