Everybody seems to turn on each other in this episode adding to the intrigue. It isn't long before he finds that Eddie Marston is attempting blackmail, and soon murdered as a result, and that Lord Holm is in love with Jack's wife, psychotherapist Gina. The story keeps you interested. When Kate discovers the safety wires have been sabotaged, a murder investigation is launched. Matters soon become complicated, when the body of the best man's father is found in a well that was being renovated, whom the detectives soon discover had disappeared on the day he was planning to run away with a local farmer's wife.
It soon becomes clear someone may have wished to kill both to cover up a dark truth, and soon Barnaby has to figure out who amongst the village wanted both dead, complicated further when Gant's curate is murdered next. When more people suddenly die from bouts of spontaneous human combustion, the detectives soon suspect someone is using the illusion of witchcraft to cover up the real motive behind the murders. Of course, that will be important as things unfold. When a note in a Christmas cracker proclaims that two members of the family will be dead by midnight on Boxing Day, everyone assumes it to be nothing more than a joke until Aunt Lydia, the eldest member of the family, nearly dies from smoke suffocation before falling down the stairs during the night. Vicar Magnus Soane and his curate repeatedly clash over these traditions.
I for one found this episode fascinating and intriguing. John is quickly discovered to have been a lab rabbit for his brother Max, who suspected he had the ability, much like those of local family, the Kirbys. He abandons his treatment to investigate, but his personal worries are never far away as he contemplates his future, while trying to determine if an argument between the spa's owners and their neighbours is the motive, or something else. Barnaby and Troy become greatly concerned for the safety of Melissa Townsend, a thoroughly disliked young woman who had recently received death threats that blamed her for the death of a local poacher, but are unable to prevent someone from murdering her, after her body is found with a syringe in the stomach beside her father's swimming pool. We could go to Brighton for the weekend, just the three of us.
But in order to investigate the matter further, Jones is forced to work undercover, and infiltrate the local group of Freemasons in the village. Young local, Richard Tanner, had been stabbed in the side and his corpse tied down like Gulliver in Lilliput. The detectives soon learn that a feud is raging between local occult practitioner Ernest Balliol and famous writer Aloysius Wilmington. But when Sonia Woodley is stabbed in the churchyard two years after the death of her abusive husband Gerald, Barnaby and Jones investigate, trying to work out who killed her. As Barnaby and Scott investigate, they wonder who wanted him dead when the pub's new manager, Stephen Bannerman, seemed a more likely target after they find that he was thoroughly disliked and was threatening to tear the Splendour down. Eventually, the Barnaby family plus Jones make it to a 40s style dance night at the village hall before more villagers start turning up dead. A bottle of wine and an old film is a feeble way to celebrate your birthday.
The victim was well known to the family and had been on a tour of the factory the day before his body was found, around the same time that the Plummers had been discussing the state of the floundering business during a general meeting, to which Ralph Plummer had angered his siblings by refusing to sell it. Political wrangling, burglaries and sexual liaisons abound in picturesque Great Pelfe - but when a member of the possible scam is themselves murdered, Barnaby wonders what is truly going on behind the scenes of an important by-election. However, all of this is pushed out of their minds when Simon's wife Susan is found dead in the Wood by some local children. Also, before she died, she called her father, a captain at a radar station, from whom she is estranged. Yet when she is there, things become mysterious when from the river bank in the grounds of the manor she sees a woman jump from the bridge and disappear underwater.
This is another richly plotted episode with a very satisfactory resolution. The first season aired on June 28, 1998. Owner William Carnarvon suspects the Farmers' Wives Association of trying to destroy his business, while his wife Diana frets over her mother Matilda, one of the victims. As they investigate, the pair quickly find themselves drawn towards a local spiritualist church that had been heavily controversial in the village, after a friend of Joyce, investigating both the church and the undertaker on suspicion that they were stealing from the dead and using information acquired from them, is murdered shortly after the latest spiritualist meeting. And do current events somehow relate to the death of Michael Wilson many years earlier? It is difficult for Mr Barnaby to uncover prospective murderers of this mostly well-liked man, but with a few more deaths, an attempted burglary and some word-processed lines from a local folk poem taking Barnaby and Troy on a journey to the far past, it looks like the killer could be right under their noses. Before long, another member turns up dead, and the detectives soon find the club has a hidden history, involving gambling, illegal money lending and assault, prompting the pair to determine if a club member, or one of its staff, is responsible for the deeds.
As they investigate the mystery, Barnaby encounters an old adversary who is working to help renovate the village and whose daughter is getting married to a local boy. In addition to strife between members of the family, the factory workers are outraged at the loss of their jobs. When Hadleigh is found dead the day after Jennings visit, brutally bludgeoned and stripped naked, Barnaby and Troy discover that the victim had many mysteries to him, prompting them to delve into his private life and his past. There are other assorted townspeople who must kowtow to this guy. While some of the villagers - such as Ernest's daughter Isolde - believe that powerful magical forces are at play, others think the reasons for the bloodshed may have their roots in the distant past. The annual harvest fair and the daredevil riders of the Wall of Death arrive in the Midsomer village of Whitcombe Mallet.
Barnaby and Jones discover that the victim was poisoned with a rare toxin extracted from Ecuadorean poison frogs - so the hunt is on for a particularly ruthless and imaginative killer. The case is complicated by a rivalry between the Midsomer Worthy and Aston Wherry choirs, due to compete in an upcoming competition, and suspicions that an art scam is to be conducted, and soon Barnaby and Jones become concerned about a local woman, who they fear may become a victim herself. The murder seems to have been inspired by a ballad made famous by the late, lamented star Johnny Carver. Then it comes to light the victim recently announced plans to move the event to a new location, which would have cost local entrepreneur Frank Wainwright dearly. Barnaby soon turns out to be right when the poacher's father is found murdered in the woods with his own shotgun. Even Isobel's close family and members of a local fly fishing group are suspects as they investigate all possible angles.
Yet their investigation also turns up a wealth of secrets, lies, affairs, blackmail, and a mysterious death that occurred shortly before a break-in, before matters are complicated when another murder occurs during the cricket match. During a Wild West show at the local faire, the witch on the 'Dunk the Witch' stall is well and truly dunked but laughter soon turns to horror when she doesn't get up and the water in the tank starts to turn red. Initial suspicions lie to both the local river keeper, Harry Green, and the victim's half-brother, David Hartley-Reade, until new evidence suggests Roger was murdered. With their honeymoon cancelled, the Fitzroys must contend with a police presence in their home, as Barnaby and Jones try to learn more about the family history. Henry, the patriarch of the Hammond family, is particularly riled by his insalubrious neighbours, and has nurtured a long-running feud with the Hickses. Soon Barnaby and Jones find themselves to trying to piece together the truth about the murder, and learn that someone might be trying to conceal something in their past. As plans to shut the Midsomer Magna factory are being put into action, Alan's wife Hilary and brother Charles are married in the village church - much to the dismay of Alan's son Ian.
When a re-enactment of a Victorian boxing match gets heated, and Kinsella's manager is found dead in his home's gym, the pair attempt to determine who is responsible, although Barnaby's judgement seems to be clouded on this one. So when company accountant Peter Baxter is found murdered, Barnaby and Jones suspect a disgruntled employee is to blame. The script was written by Paul Logue, who began to write for the show in 2014, as did several other writers. After robbing a retired actor's mansion of valuable goods, Mr Drinkwater is stabbed with a pitchfork at the local farm he is using as a base. With the help of an old friend, can they catch the culprit before another victim is found? Their investigation quickly turns up hidden conspiracies concerning both the school and its secretive, elite group known as the Pudding Club, whose members throw up a wall of silence, just before more bodies turn up. The next morning they are found strangled in their own car.