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Molly C. Quinn
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Another kitchen in Midsomer is the setting for a murder, this time the shotgun killing of a man who has been blackmailing more than one member of the local community. Barnaby and Jones must uncover the secrets each suspect has been hoping to keep hidden, and their investigation includes a respected man who once ran a school for wayward girls, a pub owner who may have shorted the tax man on inheritance taxes, and a couple whose weekend trips to the seashore might be more than for a relaxing whiff of sea air. Written by
Ron Kerrigan <email@example.com>
Midsomer Murders: Down Among the Dead Men starts in the small village of Midsomer Worthy late one night at the cottage belonging to forty three year old Martin William Barrett (Grant Masters) as he is shot at point blank range. DCI Tom Barnaby (John Nettles) & DC Ben Jones (Jason Hughes) are given the case, at first there doesn't appear to be any motive but investigations soon prove that Martin was a serial blackmailer bleeding several local residents dry. Since any of his victims had a motive Barnaby realises this will be a hard case to solve, the investigations lead Barnaby to the seaside village of Fennacombe Bay & the mysterious activities of Richard (Rob Edwards) & Margaret Florian (Christine Kavanagh) & to the door of ex-policeman Sir John Waverly (Paul Freeman) all of whom may be hiding dark secrets that might prove to be motives for a brutal murder...
Episode 4 from season 9 this Midsomer Murders mystery was directed by Renny Rye & is a fairly watchable episode but does seem to wander off in several directions including deep sea diving for long lost sunken treasure, a suicide attempt & ruined reputations in order to pad the story out. The script by Douglas Watkinson starts off with a bang as the opening sequence sees the brutal murder of Martin Barrett in one of Midsomer Murders goriest death's as blood splatters all over his kitchen but this one sole killing is the only murder in the episode & as such there's a good 90 odd minutes of exposition as Barnaby tries to solve it & while the blackmail angle is alright & takes Barnaby down to the seaside for a bit of variety it doesn't really amount to much. I will say the killer isn't that obvious & was fairly surprising to me & the motives are OK although the strange collection of unlikely coincidences that lead to their unmasking is a little contrived with dead rabbits, chance meetings in a hospital, old police records & fish shop receipts coming into play & becoming important clues. As usual the plot is pretty solid & it all comes together nicely enough but I would have liked at least one more murder & maybe a few twists, although Martin was a blackmailer there are only two or three people that could have done it & I would have liked a few more suspects & red herrings but you can't have everything I suppose can you? A good solid episode but that's the best I can say about it.
As a departure from the norm Down Among the Dead Men spends a fair amount time on the English coast in some very cold looking scenes which were actually shot in Devon in reality. The garage seen in Down Among the Dead Men where Jone's examines Barrett's car was in fact the same one used in Who Killed Cock Robin? (2001) way back in season four. As already mentioned there's only one murder in this episode although it's a pretty bloody one as Martin Barrett's kitchen is repainted with his blood after be blasted by a shotgun & there's a nice montage of the forensic team swabbing the dried blood up while processing the scene. As usual the photography is great there's some impressive scene set at the coast while the acting is also very good.
Down Among the Dead Men is another good solid Midsomer Murders mystery that if your new to the series you might enjoy more than seasoned fans who will sadly note that the pure magic of the earlier seasons just seem to be missing somehow.
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