This is the second in the Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby novels. Barnaby's wife Joyce is involved in the production of "Amadeus" being staged by the Causton Amateur Dramatic Society. As with the previous novel The Killings at Badger's Drift, the author produces a wonderful cast of characters, including Harold the director, who thinks the Amateur Dramatic Society are comparable to anything at the Old Vic, the unlikeable leading man Esslyn, his wife (and ex wife), Avery and his lover Tim, the resentful and put upon Deirdre and Nicholas Bradley, who is desperate to be an actor. Rehearsals are tense and Barnaby feels something is very wrong on first night, which begins with a catalogue of errors and ends in murder.
I have never seen Midsomer Murders, which is based upon these novels, but the books stand alone as a fine series of mysteries. Graham produces interesting scenarios and has a likeable hero in Barnaby, with his sidekick Sargeant Troy, which suggest this series can only get better.
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