Acorn Media
Release date: Sept 6th, 2011
MSRP: $39.95

Stars: John Nettles, Jason Hughes

Once upon a time,. from the mind of author Caroline Graham, came an English County full of church lunches, afternoon teas, community fairs and a homicide rate that would have even the hardest gangbangers thinking twice about visiting.

MIDSOMER MURDERS is set in Midsomer County and is, in many ways, your quinicensial British mystery series. But while the creators and cast play things straight, there is a bit of a wink and nudge going on. MM is a tradional english village series with a little black humor tossed in.

Detective Barnaby (fabulously played by John Nettles) coolly handles each murder without so much as a blink of an eye…though he does occasionally comment on the quiet county’s insane body count. Barnaby is low-keyed in his approach and, with the aid of Sergeant Ben Jones (Jason Hughes), always gets his man (or woman).

“The village of Little Worthing prides itself on two tourist attractions: the annual boat race and an elaborate model village. Then the body of troublemaker Richard Tanner turns up bond on the model with string and pegs like a passage from Gulliver’s Travels. As Barnaby and Jones investigate, they discover that outsized passions swirled around the tiny figurines and that this model hamlet hides troubling personal histories.”

“A cat burglar called the Creeper stalks the homes of Causton, putting residents on high alert. But more than jewelry and electronics are at stake, as the long-held secrets of the aristocratic Chetthams have staved off financial ruin by selling their home to their friend Jack Filby. When a man is suffocated and his valuables stolen at a birthday party hosted by Filby, it seems the Creeper has turned killer. Barnaby receives unexpected aid to uncover the truth.”

“Educator Connie Bishop faces a slew of troubles. A decline in pupils may close down her village school, and she herself suffers from night terrors. But has she been imagining an intruder in her house, or are her suspicions well founded? When a local politician dies in her garden, it confirms her worst fears. As Barnaby and Jones investigate, another man is murdered on Connie’s property. Is the sweet-natured schoolteacher a victim, or a killer?”

Extras: The one extra is a nice interview with Jason Hughes (Sergeant Ben Jones) that has gime talking about both the show as well as his career. Interesting an fun, I hope we see more of these in future editions.

MIDSOMER MURDERS is a smart, fun take on the tradition English mystery. You don’t have to be a cozy fan to like it, but I can’t imagine any of the more gentile mystery fans finding fault with it. Set 18 meets the high standards set by previous sets and is worth the price. If you not already done so, come visit Barnaby and co.

Jeremy Lynch