Friday, 14 September 2007
A Place of Safety by Caroline Graham: this is, I think, the most recent of the Midsomer books, and the eighth in the series. One of my problems with it was the difference between Barnaby in the TV series and in the books - this is the first I've read. I have no problem with the author creating a character that is their own, and not a television adapter's, but Barnaby and Troy, like Morse and Lewis, are duller than their TV counterparts, and less appealing. In A Place of Safety Barnaby is preoccupied with family and his anniversary, and increasingly crabby as he fails to solve two possibly related murders. While the victims both seem to have suffered from dysfunctional families, I felt that contrast with Barnaby's own domestic situation lent little to the novel. Indeed, I felt that his family would feature just as largely whatever the plot, and existed only to lend some depth to his uninteresting character. His thought processes offer little beyond the mundane, and both he and Troy strike me as fairly stereotypical policemen, in contrast with the protagonists in the works of say, Donna Leon or, closer to home, Peter Lovesey. The plot was rather unexciting, too, though no doubt it will adapt well enough. I have to admit to preferring Midsomer and its gory goings on in the TV version, although Joyce gains least from the transfer, being perhaps a little more sharp-tongued in the original - heaven knows, she needs it!