A veteran DCI and his young Sergeant investigate murders around the regional community of Midsomer.
The Midsomer village of Fletcher's Cross suffers a series of gruesome murders, beginning with that of local undertaker Patrick Pennyman and continuing with the deaths of Elizabeth Key (a friend of Joyce Barnaby's) and John Whittle. All three were hit over the head before having their wrists slashed. Residents are divided about a spiritualist circle run in the village by a medium called Rosetta Price, and Barnaby and Scott find links between Patrick Pennyman's funeral parlour and messages from the Other Side...
During the Midsomer Regatta, an annual series of rowing races on the River Thames, the dead body of a leading member of the Midsomer Rowing Club called Guy Sweetman is found in the water. Dastardly deeds are afoot, and as Barnaby investigates Guy's watery end he soon finds some young bloods whose stories do not seem to add up.Meanwhile, the complicated love lives of the gorgeous Hettie Trent and the elegant Claire Bonavita seem to be closely linked with the murder investigation.
The world of orchids is hotly competitive - but are the Midsomer orchid growers really killing each other?One of the world's rarest orchids is smuggled into Midsomer Malham from Borneo at a cost of hundreds of thousands of pounds, setting off a series of passionate events which lead to murder. Retired classics teacher Madeleine Villiers is poisoned with hemlock, then an orchid collector called Henry Plummer is found strangled. Brother Robert, a monk, obliges by translating Madeleine's diaries of her lurid sex life from the Latin. Barnaby has to find a plant of the Roth Orchid and at least one obsessive killer, while he is busy moving house.
Race-horse trainer Bruce Hartley is found bludgeoned to death with a hammer after the Causton Gold Cup race meeting. Bruce, an alcoholic, had threatened to reveal the reason why his father had bequeathed the thoroughbred race-horse Bantling Boy to four Midsomer villagers. The members of the syndicate come under suspicion, and the killing continues when Dr John Osgood, the lover of Bruce's wife Marianna, is also found dead - and even the Gold Cup-winning horse Bantling Boy falls sick. Barnaby and Scott must unravel the secrets of the Bantling family of Bantling Hall to find the killer.
Several of the villagers of Midsomer Mere are said to have 'second sight'. A young couple there, Ben and Emma Kirkby (formerly Ransom), are about to christen their baby daughter Christine, and both the Kirkbys and the Ransoms are anxious to know whether the new baby has the gift of second sight. It is suggested that if Emma and Ben have baby Christine baptized, she would lose the power. Then a young man is found dead with scorch marks on his head, and baby Christine cries loudly, leaving Barnaby wondering what is really going on.
Barnaby investigates several more murders in another Midsomer village, at least two of them very imaginitive ones (see list of victims).
A tour of Plummer's famous relish factory ends in tragedy when one of the visitors is crushed against towers of relish bottles and dumped naked into a 200-degree sterilizer. When the dead man is found to be an executive with rival company Fieldway Foods, Barnaby and Scott's investigation uncovers many secrets and lies among the Plummer family. Someone is also trying to frighten matriarch Amelia Plummer. But who feels strongly enough about Plummer's Relish to commit murder?
Joan Alder, the local composer of a very successful piece of music, 'Midsomer Rhapsody', died twenty years ago, leaving bitternesses among her family. Barnaby and his wife know her mother, Peggy Alder, who is about to remarry. A local man is murdered, and Barnaby realises that he was her music teacher. Then a valuable manuscript shows up among the murdered man's effects, that appears to be an early draft of the work as a collaboration by two hands, but Barnaby suspects it is a forgery, by someone who hopes to gain a share in the continuing royalties. Then Joan's long-lost daughter, Sarah Douglas, appears, followed by the revelation that her boyfriend, who was thought to be dead, is living close by. As the number of people with an interest in Joan Alder's work increases, the number of those interested in her work decreases as further murders occur.