Best 1987 Adventures (7)
March 8, 2020
One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1987 adventure novels.
Caroline Graham’s Chief Inspector Barnaby crime adventure The Killings at Badger’s Drift.
Did Emily Simpson, elderly resident of the idyllic, postcard-perfect English village Badger’s Drift, die of a heart attack? Miss Bellringer, her eccentric spinster friend, believes Emily was murdered; and an autopsy indicates that hemlock was introduced into her glass of wine. Soon enough, Mrs. Rainbird, mother of the village undertaker, is also murdered. Aided by the boorish, small-minded Sgt. Troy, Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby investigates the killings at Badger’s Drift. Whodunit: The vicar, the gamekeeper, the creepy undertaker, the doctor’s wife, the smart-alec artist? Barnaby acrimony, scandal, and old resentments — perhaps related to a long-ago murder — in the village. The characters are nuanced, the prose is witty. Like some of my favorite English novelists, Graham writes beautifully about the landscape… which makes the grisly murders all the more jarring. There is also a great deal of horticultural detail to be found, for better or worse. A Golden Age-style murder mystery set very much in the modern world; Barnaby’s first outing is a promising start. One of these days, I’ll read some of the others.
Fun facts: Adapted as the pilot of Midsomer Murders, a popular British TV series based on Graham’s books. John Nettles portrayed DCI Barnaby.
JOSH GLENN’S *BEST ADVENTURES* LISTS: BEST 250 ADVENTURES OF THE 20TH CENTURY | 100 BEST OUGHTS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST RADIUM AGE (PROTO-)SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TEENS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TWENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST THIRTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST GOLDEN AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FORTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FIFTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SIXTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST NEW WAVE SCI FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SEVENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST EIGHTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST DIAMOND AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST NINETIES ADVENTURES (in progress) | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | NOTES ON 21st-CENTURY ADVENTURES.