There seems to be an assumption that novels are always better than their TV adaptations. This one must be the exception to the rule. Shorn of all the superfluous padding the TV version proved to be an intriguing whodunnit. You will,however, prefer the book if you like a slow moving, rambling narrative, pages and pages of in-depth psychological analysis of the various characters and detailed description of their physical traits, longwinded observations of houses, curtains, carpets, furniture, gardens, the weather, eating and drinking, but hardly any action. Interesting to note that the thoroughly unpleasant Barnaby and the even more obnoxious Troy were both given a more appealing persona on TV.
DCI Tom Barnaby feels the heat in more ways than one, temperatures soaring as he and his team investigate goings-on at Fawcett Green. Pretty Simone Hollingsworth has suddenly disappeared, her husband Alan now acting very strangely. Gossip is in overdrive as residents speculate, with much peering from windows and slowing down when passing the house.
Amusingly Caroline Graham continues her exploration of what lies beneath the surface of village life, so little what it seems. Eccentrics abound. Flamboyantly garbed old Mrs. Molfrey is fun, with a past that greatly surprises. In contrast, the local store owners simply irritate with their Tudor-style pretensions - talk full of "prithee, verily" and the like.
Here, as ever throughout Midsomer, are secrets, blinkered attitudes, love of scandal and, of course, death. Barnaby's success rate is impressive, but can this be a time when he is outwitted?
Full enjoyment depends on how much one can believe in certain actions. (MILD SPOILERS ALERT!) Does desperately sad Becky's stalking convince? How about a husband who forks out £200,000 on a necklace to keep his wife happy?
For some, the depiction of DS Troy may be cause for regret. In print at any rate, he is an unappealing piece of work. Except for attractive women, he (married and a father) is disparaging about almost everything. (Admittedly he is amusing about thatched cottages: "Who'd want to live in a house with a wig on?") Many may prefer PC Colin Perrot - out of his depth but trying his hardest, despite Troy's sneers and bullying.
A 2016 reissue of the 1996 novel. Whilst there is much to enjoy, some may feel Caroline Graham's love of detail causes the pace to suffer. With four hundred and fifty pages, this read may prove a little too leisurely for maximum impact. Be advised that John Nettles (TV's Barnaby) does not agree, he much preferring the books. On the whole, I do too but feel several would benefit from a trim.
My favourite one so far! It's hard to know what to say without gushing but I've been reading these back to back and feel a bit obsessed by them to be honest. I've got so wrapped up in them that I've started to watch the box sets of the series too. I wasn't going to as I didn't have an interest in watching the adaptations but after getting through the first three books I thought I'd 'just watch a few to see if the characters are as I imagined them ...' I'm on to the second series already!
I read well past my usual bedtime with this one as it was impossible to put down unfinished and at the end, while fighting to keep my eyes open, I was rewarded by a great ending and immediately struck by the need to crack open the next one.
Such good writing and compared a lot to Agatha Christie but I think this is even better than Christie as I was never fond of her writing and the few I've tried have all been DNF's. This is so much better. I can't get John Nettles out of my head now though while reading but that's okay, he's definitely Barnaby.
Brilliant series and although cosies are not really my thing I'm loving it all so far.
Having long been a fan of Midsummer Murders on TV I was keen to find out how true to the actual books. The novels are quite long and much detail had of necessity to be left out to fit with the constraints of TV schedules. Right from the first word I was totally hooked. The writing, the plot and the characterisation are superb. The story is at times amusing, serious and with many twists and turns. Barnaby as portrayed in the book is somewhat overweight, untidy, bad tempered, and apt to jump to hasty conclusions which are not always correct. His sergeant is a snappy dresser, a bit of a man for the ladies and fond of stating his own opinion. All the characters are superbly drawn and the many twists and turns in the plot leave the reader guessing, coming to the wrong conclusion many times. The final twist in the tale is a master stroke. I don't intend to give any of the story away but to leave it to the reader to savour and enjoy. Suffice to say this author is a master of her craft, up with the best thriller writers. Thoroughly recommended
I'm reading the series, mostly in order, although that doesn't really matter as these are standalone books. This is probably the meatiest so far but having read the others I was ready for a bit more. I would still recommend starting at the beginning with The Killings at Badger's Drift though. The story involves at first a disappearance and Barnaby has his work cut out asking the right questions and spotting the clues (which are there) in order to solve the case, which is quite a clever one. I love how the characters seem very real in Caroline Graham's books, which is almost opposite to the TV series where guest characters can just seem to be 'returning relative' or 'jealous competitor' of the week. Troy in particular I find a very well-written character who is only just on the right side of being likeable; Graham treading a fine line. Overall highly recommended.
I've never watched Midsummer Murders given its twee reputation but this book is both better written than I expected and fun. Graham has an acute eye for social observation and delineates character in huge detail. Her small village setting allows both these skills to shine, and her nicely acidic wit enlivens the book throughout.
I can see where the comparisons with Christie come in as the books are very much in the English cosy category even though these have a modern setting. Graham isn't as good at pulling off plots so don't expect puzzling clues - but, then, no-one beats Christie at sleight-of-hand. Barnaby is the rather plodding police detective, complete with small-minded sergeant Troy (who doesn't like foreigners, gays, blah, blah, blah - though I should say this is a mark of characterisation rather than a view taken by Graham or the books themselves).
So this is great as a light read (while travelling, in the bath, before bed: any time you need something entertaining but easy), well-written and with a sharpness that I didn't expect but enjoyed very much. It doesn't matter about reading these out of order, and I'd certainly read more when in the mood for something mindlessly entertaining.