It might come as a surprise that I had never heard of the writer Caroline Graham until my mom got me into watching a show called Midsomer Murders. (It's on Netflix if you're interested.) What does one have to do with the other? Well, the tv show is based off of a book series by Graham that begins with The Killings at Badger's Drift which also happens to be the first episode's name. As this is the first in the Chief Inspector Barnaby series, you can expect the usual character introductions and some growing pains as the reader decides if they actually want to throw their hat into the ring of a somewhat grumpy detective in the English countryside. In the show DCI Tom Barnaby is a fatherly figure accompanied by a somewhat bumbling underling named Gavin Troy. It's not quite the same in the book. Firstly, Troy (who is one of my fave characters) is not at all likable. The reader is treated to somewhat of an inner monologue of his and he's not what I'd characterize as a a good dude (he's misogynistic, arrogant, and a cheater). Secondly, Barnaby is bordering on being a full-blown hypochondriac with an extensive knowledge of horticulture which at times seems to nearly distract him from the case at hand. (Get ready for a lot of plant descriptions.) However, looking beyond these very different versions of the characters the 'feel' of the mystery is the same if somewhat more overtly sexual. (This is an adult novel.) The crime centers around a small village called Badger's Drift and the victim is an older woman who everyone can agree was very likable. There aren't any concrete leads on suspects and Troy is ready to write it off as a bizarre accident when another murder occurs right up the road. Onward, super sleuths! Like Christie, Graham is able to write characters extremely well and the feel of the village comes completely to life on the page. This was an extraordinarily fast read for me because I was enjoying it so much and wanted to see whodunit (even though I already knew). Mystery fans who want to visit what has to be the deadliest county in the UK must get their hands on this book because I strongly suspect (see what I did there?) you won't want to stop there. 9/10 but lost a point because Troy made me grind my teeth in sheer frustration.
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