Rev. Robin Sage dies after eating a meal prepared by Juliet Spence, an expert herbalist who should know the difference between wild parsnips and deadly hemlock.



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Pippa Haywood ...
Juliet Spence
Maggie Spence
Tony Boncza ...
Reverend Robin Sage
Joanna Dunn ...
Polly Yarkin
John Vine ...
Kenneth Shepherd
Robert Goldsbrough ...
Police Officer One
Tony Philips
Jason Merrells ...
Steve Shepherd
Nathan Naylor ...
Sergeant Mason
Maggie Guess ...
Woman at Bishops
David Lyon ...


While on detachment to the Lancashire police, DI Lynley investigates the apparent murder of the Reverend Robin Sage who is found on a rural path, where he was presumably walking home. The autopsy reveals that he was poisoned with wild hemlock. He had dinner the previous evening with Juliet Spence who was also violently ill through the night, but survived the poisoning. Juliet is involved in a relationship with PC Steve Shepherd, son of the local DCI Kenneth Shepherd and it is apparent that Juliet's teenage daughter, Maggie, is not pleased with her mother's choice. Uncovering a false identity is central to solving the crime. Lynley meanwhile has fallen in love with Helen Clyde, but can't quite bring himself to do something about it. DS Havers is dealing with the aftermath of having placed her aging mother in a care home. Written by garykmcd

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21 September 2003 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?


Helen Clyde: Do you think we'll be sitting together like this when we're 90?
Thomas Lynley: Some knight in shining armor is bound to whisk you off before then.
Helen Clyde: Are you saying I need rescuing? Ah, it's OK... you don't have to answer.
See more »

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User Reviews

accidental food poisoning? or murder?
8 June 2012 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Inspector Lynley (Nathaniel Parker) and Detective Havers (Sharon Small) investigate the death of a minister in "Missing Joseph," a 2002 entry into the Inspector Lynley canon.

In this story, Rev. Sage dies on his way home from dinner with Juliet Spence (Pippa Haywood). The coroner declares that it's hemlock poisoning, that hemlock was mistaken for parsley and put into the food Ms. Spence made. Juliet also became ill but vomited, which is not a symptom of hemlock poisoning. In fact, she administered an emetic to herself.

Lynley and Havers find several suspects while they try to deal with their personal problems: Havers has moved her mother into a nursing home and is supposed to get her house ready to sell, except she is procrastinating; and Lynley is pursuing a romance with the nervous Helen Clyde (Lesley Vickerage).

One suspect is, of course, Juliet herself, another is her daughter Maggie (Charlotte Salt), another is Polly Yarken (Joanna Dunn), who is in love with Juliet's boyfriend, Steve Shepherd (Jason Merrells), and he just happens to be on the force.

Lynley and Havers uncover the truth in an excellent story. While the solution might not come as a shock, the reasons behind it definitely will.

I haven't read the books; supposedly the character of Lynley is a knock-off of Inspector Wimsey. Obviously the people who put this series together had something different in mind. As Lynley, Nathaniel Parker is wonderful - handsome, with a beautiful smile, elegant, sexy, and warm. I really don't know how Helen can resist him. Frankly he could do better. Sharon Small is excellent as his working class partner, a woman beset by anger and loneliness, but a lot of respect and affection for Lynley. They make a great team.

Haven't seen all of these, but I'm guessing this episode is one of the best in the series.

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