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on April 21, 2001
Cozies tend to have a limited cast and a modest local. In that sense, this first novel in the DCI Barnaby series certainly qualifies. Badger's Drift is a collection of buildings (village would be generous) at a T intersection. Virtually every resident is a suspect and they're a nicely mixed lot. Cozy heroes (and heroines) tend to have warm and fuzzy aspects - Barnaby has a wife he adores despite her utter inability to cook and loves to putz around in his garden.
What cozies don't contain, as a rule, are multiple murders, reformed and current prostitutes and illicit relationships that are, shall I say, more than adultry.
I really enjoyed the mixed tone of the book, even after I realized I'd seen the screen version on TV a few years ago. Graham does a nice job of taking many classical mystery elements and giving them a new spin. I'll admit that, knowing the ending, I was looking extra hard for the clues that would lead to the resolution. There weren't many but there were a few.
It's also worth noting that this book won a McCavity for best first novel and was selected by the Independent Mystery Booksellers as one of their top 100 mysteries of the 20th Century.
Bottom-line: A nice series for those who like British mysteries but want a little less rough stuff than Daziel & Pascoe or Frost.
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on March 14, 2006
This was the debut of the Inspector Barnaby & Troy series, and--with the possible exception of "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd"--I don't think a better mystery of this genre has ever been written and I could say the same of most-if-not-all of the subsequent additions to the series.

Wonderfully atmospheric, grittier than Christie but no less philosophically insightful, without Rendell's darkness or Martha Grimes' often-intrusive humor or Elizabeth George's excessive atttention to the private lives of some boring principals, I believe Caroline Graham's books are the most completely satisfying English mysteries I've ever read--and I've read more than a few.

Barnaby & Troy are a delightfully unlikely duo, and it's from their cultural clash that most of the delicious subtle humor comes. "Talisa Leanne's dictionary" cracks me up every time.

All I could wish is that Graham were more prolific. It's a long wait between books.
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on March 14, 2000
I am a great fan of British "cosies". I was excited to think I had found a new author since I've read Madames Christie and Sayers. Caroline Graham's plot are a lot different - more modern with modern problems and criminals. There is also more death, but she writes a terrific story. Read this series. This is the first in the series of DCI Barnaby. He's enough of a curmudgeon to make this interesting, but there are certainly a lot more killings in this book than in most "cosies". The plot is good and it keeps you guessing. I look forward to reading more. Barnaby gets started with one murder of an elderly teacher, but before the story is done there are other murders to contend with and the motive for the crimes, when it's discovered, will blow you away!
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on July 12, 2011
This series is for those who enjoy classic whodunits of the Agatha Christie variety, with just a bit of Ruth Rendell thrown in for quirk, and using a rather Rendellian police inspector as its protagonist. Rendell's Inspector Wexford series is the closest example of what this book offers the reader.

What Badger's Drift has which will not be found in Christie are really well-done complex characterizations that do grab your attention and create interest.

The book also seems to hew very close to the Christie line in how it proceeds, in that Inspector Barnaby and his rather malignant Sergeant Troy plod from witness to witness, endlessly reviewing the same events from different points of view.

What the book does NOT have, however (and Christie's books do) is any flow. to the plot. There is no sense of moving forward at all, as if all the characters just stopped cold and did nothing and all we read are constant narrations of past events. For me, this was very tedious.

However, the denouement is well-done and well-plotted, and the last section of the book picks up a great deal more pace and page-turning impetus. All in all, I thought I might continue on with the series in the near future. It was, after all, a first book, and hopefully Ms. Graham will pick up more plotting skill to add to her acid-etched characters.
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on August 23, 2006
I first "met" the characters in this series by happening upon them in the Midsomer Murders mystery series on TV (I'm not much of a TV watcher, so I found them accidentally!). I was so impressed with the TV series that I decided to try the books. I'm very glad I did. While I found I liked the characters a bit more in the TV series (they are somewhat toned down for TV - Troy especially!), I throughly enjoyed this book and rank Caroline Graham right up there with Agatha Christie and the other top British mystery writers. The characterizations are great for even the more minor actors in the story, her wit and humor are wonderful and the vocabulary is fantastic (finally! an author who isn't afraid to use "big words"!). The plot for this novel kept me guessing right up to the end. A well-paced, well-plotted mystery. I was equally impressed with a subsequent foray into the series - Death of a Hollow Man. If you like the cozy British mystery genre, get these books!
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on November 2, 2002
Good characters, great story...this is one I will read again. Having not heard of Caroline Graham, I now want to read all of her books. Reminisent of Martha Grimes, but better. Able to sit on the shelf with Barbara Vine. She is a great storyteller, and you will feel satisfied at the end.
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on July 10, 2010
A strong statement that--"One of the Best Mysteries ever Written" but yes it is. I have read most of Christie, Barnard, Rendell, and many others, yet I consider this book one of the best ever written.

Please do not be put off by negative reviews. I have been reading mystery/thrillers for 50 years so the number runs in the thousands.

You can read dozens of mysteries and forget the killer but in this one you will remember--it is that shocking. Also made into a tv movie that was on PBS, the denouement was less memorable, but still stunning. Book was better.

Great characters, plotting and narrative--what more could you ask?
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on November 11, 2006
The Killings at Badger's Drift is an excellently written, well-plotted British mystery. The setting is quaint, the characters are colorful, and the ending was a surprise. I personally love reading the musings of Sergeant Troy, Barnaby's unlikely assistant. His overly critical, insecure thoughts contrasts nicely with Barnaby's rational style, although Barnaby himself has his interesting quirks as well. If you are a fan of British mysteries, this is a must read!
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on December 4, 2010
I have started reading the seven wonderful Inspector Barnaby mysteries written by Caroline Graham for the third time and have to admit, for me, there is no better mystery writer in the English language. Intelligent, hilarious, fresh, and literary are some the adjectives that come to mind. Those of you who have only seen the televised series are in for a delightful surprise, for the books are far superior; indeed, it beggars the imagination the see them as anything but distantly related to the television presentations. My only regret is that Graham hasn't brought out a new mystery for quite a while, but, until then, I'll enjoy re-reading the ones I have.Murder, That's What
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on March 24, 2010
The first book by Caroline Graham in her Inspector Barnaby series of seven. The wildly successful TV series from England used these seven titles and then brilliantly imagines dozens more.

The book has a contemporary feel, unlike the Marple books, and includes all sorts of perversions, persuasions, and crimes -- petty and grand. Inspector Barbaby is his dogged, tenacious, observant self, but long-suffering on account of his wife who he adores but can't cook! This is a side of Joyce we do not see in the TV series, and adds some fun and good witticisms on Barnaby's part. Troy is much more self-assured and, in his mind, quite the ladies' man, always trying to please the 'old man'.

The plot is byzantine. One almost needs to take notes and make a chart! But fun, interesting, and clever all the way. A great ride.
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