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review 2018-06-08 23:24
Upstaged
[Death of a Hollow Man: A Chief Inspector Barnaby Mystery] (By: Caroline Graham) [published: March, 2006] - Caroline Graham

Once more I'm delving into Caroline Graham's world of detective fiction but this time it's with the second book in her Chief Inspector Barnaby series. Death of a Hollow Man takes place primarily in the Causton theater. It begins with the death of a prominent member of the local acting community committed during a performance of their newest production. Very dramatic, eh? [A/N: I have to restate my dislike of Sgt Troy who is misogynistic, homophobic, and generally vile. I understand he's used as a literary device to highlight how different he is from the main protagonist of the novel but I really wish he wasn't in the books at all. Something I do like is the relationship between Tom and his wife Joyce which is portrayed quite a bit differently from the TV series which I am more familiar with (and like better). The reader learns more background knowledge about how they met each other and fell in love (turns out Joyce is an excellent singer while Tom possesses admirable artistic skills). In fact, a lot of relationships are explored in this sequel and the majority of them are quite ugly beneath the surface. There's quite a lot of flippant talk regarding mental illness which I didn't particularly care for especially relating to Alzheimer's. I think the only really good thing I can say about this novel is that the mystery itself is fast paced and interesting so it kept me turning the pages. Graham knows how to write a gripping mystery but I don't think she's especially adept at character portrayals (or sensitivity). All in all, I think this will be my last foray into this literary series but I will continue to watch Midsomer Murders (especially after we visited the place where it's filmed). 5/10

 

What's Up Next: Ghostbusters by Larry Milne

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-03-08 00:35
Sleuthing for a new mystery series
The Killings at Badger's Drift - Caroline Graham

It might come as a surprise that I had never heard of the writer Caroline Graham until my mom got me into watching a show called Midsomer Murders. (It's on Netflix if you're interested.) What does one have to do with the other? Well, the tv show is based off of a book series by Graham that begins with The Killings at Badger's Drift which also happens to be the first episode's name. As this is the first in the Chief Inspector Barnaby series, you can expect the usual character introductions and some growing pains as the reader decides if they actually want to throw their hat into the ring of a somewhat grumpy detective in the English countryside. In the show DCI Tom Barnaby is a fatherly figure accompanied by a somewhat bumbling underling named Gavin Troy. It's not quite the same in the book. Firstly, Troy (who is one of my fave characters) is not at all likable. The reader is treated to somewhat of an inner monologue of his and he's not what I'd characterize as a a good dude (he's misogynistic, arrogant, and a cheater). Secondly, Barnaby is bordering on being a full-blown hypochondriac with an extensive knowledge of horticulture which at times seems to nearly distract him from the case at hand. (Get ready for a lot of plant descriptions.) However, looking beyond these very different versions of the characters the 'feel' of the mystery is the same if somewhat more overtly sexual. (This is an adult novel.) The crime centers around a small village called Badger's Drift and the victim is an older woman who everyone can agree was very likable. There aren't any concrete leads on suspects and Troy is ready to write it off as a bizarre accident when another murder occurs right up the road. Onward, super sleuths! Like Christie, Graham is able to write characters extremely well and the feel of the village comes completely to life on the page. This was an extraordinarily fast read for me because I was enjoying it so much and wanted to see whodunit (even though I already knew). Mystery fans who want to visit what has to be the deadliest county in the UK must get their hands on this book because I strongly suspect (see what I did there?) you won't want to stop there. 9/10 but lost a point because Troy made me grind my teeth in sheer frustration.

 

What's Up Next: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Others Lessons From the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places by Colin Dickey

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2016-04-08 13:09
Death of a Hollow Man (Chief Inspector Barnaby series #2)
Death of a Hollow Man (Chief Inspector Barnaby Series #2) -

Compared to the previous book in the series, this was a slow one. The body doesn't show up until the half-way mark. Due to the complicated relationships between the characters and the fact that Inspector Barnaby was familiar with most of the suspects, having worked on previous sets for the CADS, a certain amount of set-up was necessary for the story. It would have felt forced and unnatural to shoehorn all that information and backstory in after the murder. However, just because I understand why the book was laid out like this doesn't excuse the fact that it ran a little long. This was a re-read and I remembered quite a lot from the first time and I still kept thinking, "When is he going to die already?"

 

The ending itself was also a bit of a letdown from The Killings at Badger’s Drift. The way Inspector Barnaby revealed who the murderer was felt out of character to me. After recovering the razor, would Inspector Barnaby really go to the theater and confront everybody like that? From my reading of his character he would be more likely to pull the killer aside, mention how he had a few follow-up questions for everybody and then arrest the killer. He never struck me as a showboat and that's what the ending felt like, showing off. I gave this book 3 1/2 stars it just wasn't as good as The Killings at Badger's Drift.

 

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review 2010-05-05 00:00
Written In Blood - Caroline Graham My first book Barnaby, wherein he is exactly right, exactly as he is on the TV. Troy, however, is almost entirely a different character in the book. I like the TV one better. Book Troy is not at all nice. Joyce Barnaby is perfectly wonderful, though there is not nearly enough of her in the book. Caroline Graham gets in delightfully sharp observations of her characters. 'You're really deep, Brian.'Brian, about as deep as clingfilm but not nearly so useful, gave a falsely deprecating shrug.
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