People are probably most familiar with the fictional English county of Midsomer, and Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby from the long running BBC mystery series, Midsomer Murders. This novel provided the inspiration and central characters, as well as the plot for the first episode, which followed Caroline Graham’s plot quite faithfully. (The first five episodes of the series are adaptations of the first five novels; the rest simply make use of the characters.)
The most significant changes appear in Detective Sergeant Troy, who is a much sleazier chap in the novels, and the death of the first victim, Emily Simpson, who dies of poisoning in the novel but is beaten to death in the series.
Graham creates a fictional environment centered around a mostly rural English county, filled with picturesque villages, quaint characters, and a startling propensity amongst the inhabitants to solve their problems by murdering each other at an altogether alarming rate, though the books are somewhat less murder-plagued than the program. Fans of the television series have been known to wonder if the murder rate in Midsomer might not be sufficient to depopulate the place in a few years.
Barnaby is a nicely rounded out character, one who combines the experience and skills that go with his job (a British chief inspector is the equivalent of a captain in most American police departments). One of the things introduced in this novel is Barnaby’s willingness to work long hours, particularly if doing so will allow him to avoid his wife’s culinary failures.
There are also plot elements I find particularly interesting, given my own literary output. I’ll leave you to read the book and find those for yourself, presuming you haven’t already watched the TV version and know what I’m talking about.
I would definitely recommend reading this and the other DCI Barnaby novels, particular if you have not seen the television versions and therefore don’t already know who the murderer is.