Friday, 14 September 2007

Recent reading

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!


  1. I haven't read any of the Midsomer books. Are the TV programmes adaptations of the books? Or the other way round?

    I often have difficulty in reading a book if I've seen a film or TV version first because of the difference in my visualisation of the characters and their representation on screen. I do like watching Midsomer Murders for entertainment - the scenery, the acting etc but not so much for the plots, you don't have to concentrate very much - ideal for Friday night viewing.

  2. Goodness, a comment, how unexpected - thank you!
    I absolutely agree about Midsomer for relaxing Friday viewing, I can watch it comfortably with only half my brain functioning.
    I believe that the TV programmes started with adaptations of the 7 books, then moved on to new plots - certainly, episode titles match up with book titles at first; and yes, the books came first.
    I agree that adaptations of works you know can be very unsatisfactory, and it's certainly not the author's fault that my preconceptions rather spoilt my enjoyment. However, I felt - perhaps unfairly on the strength of a single book - that the TV characters are better fleshed out than those of the books. I doubt if I'll read any of the earlier ones. Reviewers (on the back and on Amazon) talk about the author's sharp wit - well, I'm afraid it eluded me.

  3. I really enjoy watching Midsomer Murders. But I had no idea they were based on books! I'll have to give one of these a try just so I can see for myself. Thanks!

  4. I just noticed today that there's a new one coming up on UK television over Christmas; a real treat! Wonder what the body count will be?