My family and I have loved watching “Midsomer Murders” for ages, but though I am such a great fan of Tom Barnaby and his family, I did not really enjoy the two books I have read in Danish translation. I have promised some of my friends (and myself) that I would give Caroline Graham a third chance in English so here goes:
In this story we have a drama within a drama: the Causton Amateur Dramatic Society are going to produce Amadeus, the story about Salieri and Mozart. And as this is Midsomer, obviously they are adding their own intrigues in plenty behind the curtain so though you don´t know who of the many controversial characters is going to be killed, you certainly expect a victim. And on the first night the leading actor, Salieri alias Esslyn Carmichael slices his own throat with a razor which was somewhat sharper than he had bargained for.
Of course Joyce is busily engaged as she is responsible for the wardrobe and plays the role as Salieri´s cook (no, Salieri was not poisoned). Cully plays the role of self-appointed critic and shows some interest in the promising, young actor Nicholas Bradley while Barnaby paints the scenery.
As is typical of a Barnaby mystery, there are plenty of quirky characters and a delicious small-town atmosphere. With regard to language I promise that I will never, ever read Caroline Graham in translation again. She deserves better than that. And please do not see this as if I am trying to slate the Danish translator – when a story depends heavily on (linguistic) humour and puns, it is terribly difficult to render the tone and the details in a translation.
The book versus the film:
In my opinion the director of the film has been very loyal to the characters of the book – I enjoyed the book in particular because it was almost like seeing the characters from the screen. Especially the haughty director and the gay couple.
I did get a few surprises, though, but perhaps that is because I don´t remember the first episodes as well as I think I do. As I have read two stories a couple of years ago, I knew that Troy was married (there is a hilarious scene where Troy introduces Cully to Mrs Troy, but you will have to read that yourself).
We all know that Joyce is dangerous in a kitchen, but does Barnaby really love gardening and painting? And was 19-year-old Cully such a pest? A really insolent teenager who was very busy expressing her honest opinion about this and that?
Never mind, I must remember to order a couple more – so I have an antidote ready for an overcast day. I bought the book myself.