Reading the Detectives discussion

The Killings at Badger's Drift (Chief Inspector Barnaby #1)
This topic is about The Killings at Badger's Drift
75 views
Group reads > September 2018 - The Killings at Badger's Drift - SPOILER Thread

Comments Showing 1-45 of 45 (45 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

Susan | 10509 comments Mod
Published in 1987 this is the first novel in the Chief Inspector Barnaby series and won the Macavity Award for Best First Mystery Novel. It was adapted for television in 1997 and became the first in the popular Midsomer Murders series.

The village of Badger's Drift is the essence of tranquillity. But when resident and well-loved spinster Miss Simpson takes a stroll in the nearby woods, she stumbles across something she was never meant to see, and there's only one way to keep her quiet.

Miss Simpson's death is not suspicious, say the villagers. But Miss Lucy Bellringer refuses to rest: her friend has been murdered. She is sure of it.

She calls on Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby to investigate, and it isn't long until the previously unseen seamy side of Badger's Drift is brought to light.

But as old rivalries, past loves and new scandals surface, the next murder is not far away.

Please feel free to post spoilers in this thread.


Susan | 10509 comments Mod
It seems that the countryside is the perfect place for a murder. It all looks beautiful, and peaceful, but, beneath the surface!

Who liked the opening of this? I thought the hunt for the first flower of the season was a wonderful way to start a story and it seemed very realistic, as though the author knew someone who did this.


message 3: by Mark Pghfan (new)

Mark Pghfan | 366 comments It was a great opening. Contrasting the bucolic with murder!


Susan | 10509 comments Mod
Yes, I agree, Mark. I did think it was odd that she called the Samaritans though. I thought she might confide in her friend - regardless how shocking the event she stumbled upon was, I thought she would turn to someone who knew those concerned.


Sandy | 3003 comments Mod
I also liked the opening, very original but also realistic. I could sense the closeness between the two ladies.

However, I disagree that she would turn to her friend over strangers. I think once the names, or even the subject, was mentioned it could no longer be kept secret. So, her first decision was whether to tell at all, thus the Samaritans.


Elizabeth (Alaska) I don't know what the Samaritans is, so I got lost there. What was it she expected them to do after she told them the situation?


message 7: by Sandy (last edited Sep 03, 2018 07:55AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sandy | 3003 comments Mod
The Samaritans prime purpose is to talk and listen to potential suicides, but they will talk, non judgemently, to any who call. I doubt she expected them to do anything but she wanted to talk to someone, anyone.


Elizabeth (Alaska) I got that she wanted to talk to someone and someone outside the village who wouldn't know the people involved. We have suicide hot lines here - I think in every community, but having never called one, I don't know that for certain.


Susan | 10509 comments Mod
I would have thought she'd trust her friend to keep a secret, but perhaps not. It was certainly a very shocking event for her to witness.


message 10: by Elizabeth (Alaska) (last edited Sep 03, 2018 08:46AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Elizabeth (Alaska) There were a couple of words that I immediately understood, but are different in the US.

a girl playing the fruit machine - this is just a slot machine here, or slots for the area in a casino, also called in slang a one armed bandit, although being electronic now I don't know how many people would know that.

Lessiter rootled about in his wallet - I was pretty sure I knew what this meant, but I looked it up to be sure. We would leave out the "L" and just say rooted about in his wallet.

And then, relatively late in the novel, a sentence that would not have made it to TV: ‘You’re about as much use to the force, Bateman, as a jockstrap in a nunnery.’ It gives Barnaby an edge that I had not seen before. I think I liked him better.


Sandy | 3003 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "I would have thought she'd trust her friend to keep a secret, but perhaps not. It was certainly a very shocking event for her to witness."

I think they would both have tried to keep it secret but it would have been hard meeting these people regularly. And they would have to decide whether to tell the future husband. I, personally, cannot imagine not telling him though she would not have realized his life was in danger.


Sandy | 3003 comments Mod
Elizabeth (Alaska) wrote: "There were a couple of words that I immediately understood, but are different in the US.

a girl playing the fruit machine - this is just a slot machine here, or slots for the area in a casino, al..."


I loved that jockstrap line!


Jessica | 377 comments I was very shocked actually by the murder over Iris Rainbird. It was all fun and games in the quiet countryside, overlooking a little murder of and elderly lady in good Golden Age detective style and then... a quite literal bloody mess! How gruesome! I was quite unprepared for that discovery and the details of how much blood was shed by the large woman were just horrible.


Susan | 10509 comments Mod
Yes, we really knew we were not in the GA though. How creepy were Mrs Rainbird and her son, though? It seemed all the locals knew what she was up to, as well.


Elizabeth (Alaska) I thought this pair was where we see how perceptive Barnaby is and that he so easily saw a person's underlying character. Right from the beginning he thought Mrs. Rainbird was *not* birdwatching in the loft/attic.


message 16: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9405 comments Mod
I thought the parts about the Rainbirds were pretty off-putting, especially the murder and all the blood, I agree with Jessica.

I wasn't sure what to make of Troy's homophobic comments about Dennis - as we've mentioned, Troy seems to be a less pleasant character in the books than in the TV, so I think readers are probably not supposed to agree with him, but it would be more pleasant not to have to read these opinions.


Elizabeth (Alaska) Judy wrote: "I think readers are probably not supposed to agree with him, but it would be more pleasant not to have to read these opinions. "

Maybe it's good to be reminded how not to be.


Susan | 10509 comments Mod
If I recall correctly, Dennis was an undertaker, which gave him great local knowledge. I would agree with Elizabeth, I think. Those views, however unpleasant, are expressed and it is a reminder of how unacceptable they are.


message 19: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9405 comments Mod
Well, we'll have to agree to differ on this one - I didn't really like the whole portrayal of the Rainbirds and felt Troy's opinions were unnecessary in a fairly light mystery like this.

My main plot gripe, though, which caused a problem for me when I saw it on TV originally, was the mention of Annabella - I knew the plot of 'Tis Pity She's a Whore (I think a film adapted from it had recently been on TV!), so as soon as this was mentioned I knew that the brother and sister were having an affair and that one of them must have done it.

Admittedly the play probably isn't that well-known nowadays, so it isn't as much of a problem as when a mystery episode is based on Hamlet and then the murder plot is exactly the same!


Susan | 10509 comments Mod
I do agree that the book tilted on its axis at that point and became something altogether different - much darker and more realistic.

I didn't know the plot, but I did guess fairly early on and, as I am hopeless at guessing the murderer, it can't have been too hard.


Elizabeth (Alaska) I always had half of the couple in the woods, but my opinion alternated, as did its other half.


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 893 comments The Annabella remark could have been stretched to apply to mama and baby Rainbird as well--maybe that's why we had to have two incidences of incest in the same tiny village, which felt over the top to me until the end. Misdirection from the author.

I too got only half the evil pair right. I suspected Kate right along but thought her brother was too obvious. And I didn't find it really believable that they would kill themselves.

I enjoyed the book but wanted more of charmingly eccentric villagers and less of the detective pair, who weren't all that interesting to me. They reminded me of a budget Gamache and Beauvoir, for those of you who are Louise Penny fans. And I agree with those who found the tone uneven, shifting between cozy and hardboiled.


message 23: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9405 comments Mod
That's interesting, Abigail - it never occurred to me that the Annabella remark could have covered the Rainbirds. I do think two incestuous relationships and the suggestions of the little girl, Lisa Dawn being physically abused was all pretty grim - I agree it would have been nice to have more of the charmingly eccentric villagers.


message 24: by Mark Pghfan (new)

Mark Pghfan | 366 comments I think the sharp, darker turn was deliberate, designed to show us the underbelly of the not-so bucolic country life.


message 25: by Ruth (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ruth | 317 comments I think I have my rose-coloured spectacles on when I read books which I view as cosy crime! I see the lovely village and the wonderful characters and how they interact but miss the undercurrants that you've all picked up.

It's been a very enlightening discussion for me.


message 26: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten  (kmcripn) | 8 comments I never considered these as "cozies" -- just because it feels like anything in a village is cozy doesn't mean it is. Like I don't consider the Gamache books as cozy.


Trisha | 79 comments I found this book very disappointing. The number of eccentric villagers just seemed ridiculous to me. A cosy crime? - I didn’t think it was, people were too spiteful & the inclusion of incest & possible child abuse made this more unpleasant than it needed to be. As it was the first of a series, I wonder if the author aimed to shock readers in order to promote sales of future books.

I used to watch the early series on tv, with the wonderful John Nettles. It always felt disappointing compared with his role in Bergerac (set in Jersey, Channel Islands). As the stories became even more unbelievable I gradually gave up watching, & never bothered to read the books. But others may be interested to know that some of the violence & strange murder methods in the tv series were prompted by viewers reactions - it became a challenge to find increasingly weird ways for victims to be killed!


Elizabeth (Alaska) In what way was there the expectation for a cosy mystery?


Trisha | 79 comments Elizabeth (Alaska) wrote: "In what way was there the expectation for a cosy mystery?"

I don’t think this was an expectation. But it was used as a comparison in some of the messages above.


Sandy | 3003 comments Mod
Interesting all our different preconceptions. I have never watched a complete TV program but have seen bits and pieces and lots of previews. From those I expected a 'cozy', with eccentric villagers and off scene violence. I was pleasantly surprised that it was more realistic, but agree that it may have veered in the other direction with so many evil folks in a small town (especially as this is just the first in the series). I heard a comment somewhere, regarding the TV programs, that the village must be the most dangerous place in Britain.


Elizabeth (Alaska) I think the TV series had them all in the same village, but, perhaps not really knowing what an English village is, I think not all of the series installments are set in the same place. The description of the 2nd has it in Causton, not Badger's Drift.


message 32: by Jill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 2176 comments They are set in Midsummer, which consists of a lot of small villages. T.V. series is called Midsummer Murders
John Nettles who played the first Barnaby said he would never live anyway in Midsummer as it is much too dangerous.


Elizabeth (Alaska) No, it's called Midsomer Murders.


message 34: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9405 comments Mod
A group of villages, anyway, and a phenomenal death rate! I loved John Nettles in both Bergerac and this. I also like the other Barnaby though - not sure of his name?


message 35: by Jill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 2176 comments Elizabeth (Alaska) wrote: "No, it's called Midsomer Murders."

oops my mistake


message 36: by Jill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 2176 comments I like both , but I also like Sykes the dog.


message 37: by Louise (last edited Sep 07, 2018 03:27PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Louise Culmer | 114 comments I was surprised a couple of years ago when I read another detective novel by a different author which had quite a similar plot - incestuous brother and sister who commit murder to prevent their secret being revealed, the sister is married to a rich man. it was published some years before the Killing at Badger's Drift and I thought it was quite a coincidence, but I suppose some ideas are bound to recurr.


message 38: by Louise (last edited Sep 07, 2018 03:35PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Louise Culmer | 114 comments Judy wrote: "A group of villages, anyway, and a phenomenal death rate! I loved John Nettles in both Bergerac and this. I also like the other Barnaby though - not sure of his name?"

John. I prefer the Tom Barnaby episodes myself, but the ones with John are okay. I love Bergerac too.


Louise Culmer | 114 comments Elizabeth (Alaska) wrote: "I think the TV series had them all in the same village, but, perhaps not really knowing what an English village is, I think not all of the series installments are set in the same place. The descrip..."

Midsomer is supposed to be an English county, somewhere in the Berkshire/Buckinghamshire/Oxfordshire area, where I think most of it is filmed. IT appears to be quite a small county - it only seems to have one town of any size, Causton, though I think in the books Causton is envisaged as larger and less picturesque than it is in the TVs series, I read somewhere that it was supposed to be based on Slough, which is a large modern town in Berkshire, not a small pretty market town like Causton is on tv.


Elizabeth (Alaska) The TV series must have branched far and wide. There are only 7 novels in the series, but there are 122 installments in the TV series - and counting.


Susan | 10509 comments Mod
I was thinking about authors trying to think of weird ways to kill people. Dorothy L. Sayers had some really unusual methods, as I recall, but I suppose it must be difficult to come up with different methods and motives.


message 42: by Lesley (new) - added it

Lesley | 384 comments Jill wrote: "I like both , but I also like Sykes the dog."

I like both too. I think they did it well by making Tom and John similar, but with distinct differences. Sykes it just such a character. Did you notice in the later series Sykes is a different dog? I'm not sure when he changed, but you have to love the way they've trained them to have similar tricks and personalities.


Trisha | 79 comments Lesley wrote: "Jill wrote: "I like both , but I also like Sykes the dog."

I like both too. I think they did it well by making Tom and John similar, but with distinct differences. Sykes it just such a character. ..."


Yes, Sykes was/is very cute! The original Sykes was introduced with the new Inspector Barnaby. At some point they decided Sykes would retire from acting, & his character died in an episode of the series. The new Sykes started to appear in later episodes, with his arrival in Barnaby’s home as part of the background story.


Trisha | 79 comments Louise wrote: "Judy wrote: "A group of villages, anyway, and a phenomenal death rate! I loved John Nettles in both Bergerac and this. I also like the other Barnaby though - not sure of his name?"

John. I prefer ..."


Louise, I’m glad you liked Bergerac too! I liked it much better than Midsomer Murders, though it looks very dated now when repeats are shown. John Nettles is so nice, he lived in Jersey for a while & did a lot for the community. I watched him filming there once & was amazed at his patience & good humour when numerous takes were needed due to other people.


Pages | 61 comments Hi everyone,

Sorry I’ve been MIA for a while now. I’ve been trying to read the group reads in the actual months and failing miserably but hurrah I have read this one in September!

I’ve been itching to watch Midsomer
Murders for a while now so was happy to read this.

I imagined the tv series as cosy mystery Sunday evening viewing so the book was quite surprising to me.

I didn’t see the ending at all. I hadn’t even thought about incest and yes agreed - poor Mrs Rainbird being hacked to pieces. Rather violent. And slightly overkill I’d say!

There were definitely acidic overtones - from both Barnaby, Troy and the villagers that stood out.


back to top