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on 24 July 2017
I love the Midsomer Murders TV series (I've probably seen every episode), so I'm not sure why I've never read any of the books that the series was based on. Surprisingly there are only seven of them. This is the first, and I picked it up on Kindle for only 99p. Doing my usual read-a-series-in-the-wrong-order thing, I'd somehow already bought #2 in paperback sometime previously.

The Killings at Badger's Drift (great title!) is a contemporary cosy crime/murder mystery written in a similar style to Agatha Christie. When I started reading I found it a little old-fashioned, but that is because I hadn't realised it was originally written in 1987. The idea of a Detective Chief Inspector doing door-to-door enquiries (although the reason is explained in the story), and the way everyone happily tramples over a crime scene, made me smile. Having said that, it is darker and funnier than the kind of cosy crime published recently, and once I got into it I couldn't put it down. The mix of characters, who all had plausible motives for murder, were so beautifully drawn - the Rainbirds, in particular, were genius. I hadn't got a clue who the villain was and I was completely in awe at the way the intricate plot strands all came together. It's a masterclass in cosy crime.

When retired school-teacher goes orchid-hunting in the local woods, she sees something she shouldn't - and is murdered for it. Only her best friend Lucy Bellringer (a nod to Miss Marple?) is convinced her death was unnatural, and she persuades Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby to investigate - with the help of his sidekick, Detective Sergeant Troy (who inadvertently provides much of the humour).

I loved this book and I'm really looking forward to reading the next one in the series. Recommended for anyone who likes classic, contemporary murder mysteries, and for fans of authors like Agatha Christie. (And I love the cover!)
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 25 January 2017
Totally engrossing, extremely well written and incredibly well plotted. I enjoyed every single word. Unusually for me, I had watched every single series of Midsomer Murders prior to reading any of Caroline Grahams novels. The novels are in a class of their own and quite an altogether different experience.The characters so much more rounded and complete and the plot intricacies so much more evident. If you enjoy the TV series then read this, if you don't enjoy the TV series then, equally, read this! It is, quite simply, superb. You will not be disappointed.
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on 23 January 2017
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )|Verified Purchase
I've always rather poked fun at Mr Bee and his fondness for the cosy crimes of the Midsomer Murders TV series, whilst I immerse myself in Tartan Noir and some brutal Scandi crime.

However, I'm prepared to be open minded and so I settled down to read this, not expecting an awful lot but always bearing in mind that the book is usually better than the film or TV series! And so it proved. This was an enjoyable outing in the classic style, with murder, adultery, and other shenanigans happening in the rural idyll of Badger's Drift.

Tom Barnaby and Sergeant Troy investigate the death of an old lady that is initially written off as natural causes ... and in doing so untangle a very sticky web of lies and deceit, of passions driven by love and by pragmatism, and where at least one person comes to an end more gory than some of my Tartan Noir dispatches!

However, all is resolved and neatly tied up in so all becomes calm again in Midsomer ... or does it? There's another six books to come!

The strengths of the novel are in the characterisation - sometimes bold and brash, other times subtle and finely drawn - and the wit and humour. The authorial voice is very distinct and comes through strongly at times - although never as a distraction.

I enjoyed it, and will be looking for more in the series.
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on 7 May 2017
First let me say that I'm glad I don't live in the county of Midsomer; if I had done, I probably wouldn't have reached the great age at which I'm writing this! All fans of the TV series know that the death rate is astronomical and outdone only by the ingenuity of the various murderers. However, this, the first of the Midsomer Murders stories, shows us the story from a different angle: we see much of the action through the eyes of Sergeant Troy. D S Gavin Troy, an old-school plain clothes man, has no time for many of the changes in society brought about in the eighties, when the book was written. His sceptical take on the goings-on in and around Causton acts as a counter-balance to the more liberal views of his chief, D C I Tom Barnaby. Between the two of them, they unravel the twisted line of serial killings to uncover what must be the final taboo. And what that is, you must read the book to find out.
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on 27 August 2017
Personally, I don't know anyone who hasn't seen the Midsomer Murders TV series. John Nettles being Barnaby to a tee. He says in the forward that a lot more can be found out about the characters from the books because so much has to be fitted into a two hour show, which is true. I didn't know Barnaby took tablets regularly. Is this because of his irregular eating habits or Joyce's cooking! Troy is different to how he was on TV, the Rainbirds equally obnoxious blackmailers, and the Lacey's just as evil.
A brilliant first book in the series with lots of twists and turns that I didn't picked up in the TV show. Although the author only wrote seven Midsomer books I believe, they certainly spawned a great television series which continues to delight.
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on 15 May 2017
I loved this. I'm a big fan of Midsomer Murders anyway, although I'd never read any of the original novels. This one I believe was the first of them. The characters and situation are a lot more rounded and complex than the tv portrays, which is understandable of course because novels are so often a hundred times better than their tv or film versions. But as John Nettles explains in the foreword, tv adaptations necessarily have to cut corners as it were, and to edit, because they just can't include everything. All the more reason to read the novels as well. This was my first Midsomer novel and I don't think it'll be my last.
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on 20 October 2017
I have watched Midsomer Murders on TV but this is the first time I have read one of the books! How short - changed we have been there - John Nettles of course is excellent in the role but the character in the book is just so much more developed. The other characters in this book are just so skilfully drawn that you can just really see them as you read. Brilliant story without a very satisfying conclusion. Really enjoyed this first book and I'm off to the Kindle store to buy the next one - heartily recommend this book!
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on 22 April 2017
What a wonderful writer. No wonder it inspired a major TV series.
But the book is a delight: witty, intelligent and invites readers to create their own images rather than sofa gaze at actors doing the very best to interpret Caroline's plots.
This novel has sex, violence, adultery and a score of other sins that, in other hands, would make for gloomy thoughts. This book left me cheerful.
Anyone for disgraceful behaviour? I'm game.
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on 19 June 2017
My first time reading Caroline Graham. The success of the TV series (which I enjoy) based on her books made me assume (quite wrongly) that her books would be a poor read. She writes very well and her ability to create a likeable, believable policeman is, I think, on a par with Ruth Rendell (Inspector Wexford) and Agatha Christie (for gripping plots). The foreword to this book by actor, John Nettles, is spot on.
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on 3 August 2017
The foreword by John Nettles suggests that although the televised versions of Caroline Graham's books are good, her books are great. Richer and more detailed. This is absolutely true. I'm a huge fan of midsomer murders but feel I learned more in one book about the character of Tom than I have in many series. Well written, engaging and delightfully dark without being salacious. I can't wait to read the rest.
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