Sunday, August 24, 2008

REVIEW: The Killings at Badger's Drift

Title: The Killings at Badger's Drift
Author: Caroline Graham
ISBN: 038070563X
Protagonist: Chief Inspector Barnaby and Sergeant Troy
Setting: Badger's Drift, a village in the south of England, late 1980s
Series: #1
Rating: A

First Line: She had been walking in the woods just before teatime when she saw them.

Octogenarian Miss Lucy Bellringer insists that her friend, Miss Emily Simpson, was murdered. Until Chief Inspector Barnaby and Sergeant Troy show up in the picture postcard little village, Miss Bellringer couldn't find anyone to pay attention to her. Inspector Barnaby does. He listens to what she has to say, whilst Sergeant Troy tries not to be caught rolling his eyes, and realizes that Miss Bellringer's observations have truth and sense in them. Ordering an autopsy, it's discovered that Miss Simpson was murdered by drinking hemlock-laden wine, and Barnaby soon finds himself with more suspects in that tiny village than a dog has fleas.

I first came to this series via the excellent BBC-TV series "Midsomer Murders" starring John Nettles. Fortunately I left enough time between watching the episode and reading the book for my memory to do an almost total clean erase. As enjoyable and faithful to the book as the television episode was (typical BBC production), I much prefer the book--not that that should surprise anyone! The background of Barnaby in particular gave him such depth and nuance that, as I read the series, he should rapidly climb to the top of my list of favorite UK coppers. The path Barnaby has taken throughout his career, his wife and daughter, his love of gardening, his dry wit--all of these things combine to make him a very special character. In amongst all the seriousness were slipped small laugh-out-loud moments that provided a welcome change in tone and kept me from concentrating on the identity of the murderer.

All in all, an excellent start to a new-to-me series. I'm looking forward to many more investigations with Chief Inspector Barnaby.


  1. I love this series and this character. Nice review!

  2. Joyce Barnaby's Bakewell Surprise reminds me very much of my grandmother's Rhubarb Surprise!


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