Sir Freddy Butler collapses during a speech. The PM suggests the death is due to natural causes, however Barnaby is not convinced. Sir Freddy's will is stolen and his lawyer's house is burned down in an arson attack.
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Sir Freddy Butler uses the occasion of a local festival to invite his extended family to an elaborate dinner at his large estate under the pretext of making a special announcement. Included are two ex-wives, his current wife, two sons, and his eccentric brother. However, Sir Freddy collapses and dies as he begins to address his guests, presumably for natural. When his last will and testament is stolen from his solicitor's office, and a duplicate copy is incinerated after an arsonist burns down the lawyer's house, Barnaby is faced with a half dozen suspects, all of whom had a motive for murder. Written by
Gabe Taverney (email@example.com)
Midsomer Murders: Vixen's Run is set in the small village of Haddington where Sir Freddy Butler (Joss Ackland) lives in Haddington Hall with his third wife Lady Tara Butler (Annabel Mullion) & his son Richard (David Beames) & his wife Sandra (Joanna Riding). Freddy's first wife Annabel (Siân Phillips) & second wife Lucinda (Sheila Ruskin) have been invited to the hall to witness an important announcement by Freddy but after dinner just as Freddy is about to speak he drops down dead. Local coroner Dr. Bullard (Barry Jackson) informs DCI Barnaby (John Nettles) that Freddy died from natural causes but Barnaby isn't convinced. Then the Butler's family solicitor Henry York (Charles Kay) is found burnt to death after an arson attack on his home which destroyed the last copy of Freddy's will. Barnaby believes the death's of Henry & Freddy are linked & sets about finding the truth...
Episode 3 from season 9 this Midsomer Murders mystery was directed by Peter Smith & is a decent enough episode but the one thing I find quite amusing about Vixen's Run is that all the main character's & suspects last name is Butler so probably for the first time in Midosmer Murders history I can honestly say that the Butler did it! The only question is which one? Vixen's Run is one of those Midsomer Murders episodes which does take quite a while to get going, the first twenty odd minutes is pure exposition & since Freddy's death is initially classed as natural causes the first proper murder doesn't happen until after the forty five minute mark which is too long really since it's not until that point that the investigation kicks in although you do know that something fishy is up with Freddy's death as well. This episode has an Indiana Jones style subplot about a couple of character's searching for hidden Emeralds by solving clues & finding secret passages & the like which comes across as a nice distraction if ultimately a bit pointless. There's also a strange slightly mad character who talks to his vegetables & puts them to bed at night in a small cot complete with bed sheet! The motives for murder here in Vixen's Run are pretty good & fairly plausible if a little bonkers & rather routine, this one like so many murder mysteries boils down to money which is always a solid motive to bump someone off I suppose even if it is the oldest motive in the book. One of the few Midsomer Murders episodes not to feature any scenes with Barnaby at home.
There are two definite murders & even though the ending hints that Freddy was also murdered it's never explicitly stated that he was & even if he was it's not revealed how. The first murder sees someone burnt in a cottage (when the fire started & he was still alive why didn't he open the window, hang off the ledge with his feet as close to the ground as possible & just let go? He would have had a sprained ankle at most, it was only one floor up for God's sake) while kill number two is very satisfying as one of the most snobbish & unlikable character's in all of Midsomer Murders history is shot straight through the head complete with blood splatter. The stately home used in Vixen's Run for Haddington Hall was in fact the same building used in Dead Mans Eleven (1999) from way back in season two. There's a pre credits scene set in 1953 which is actually quite cheap looking & feels very staged. As far as the cast goes the name of note is the distinctive larger than life Joss Ackland who has been in loads of things but whenever I see him I am always reminded of his odd cameo in the Pet Shop Boys music video for 'Always on my Mind'!
Vixen's Run is a good solid Midosmer Murders episode with a fairly predictable & uninspired motive for murder that still works but isn't exactly memorable or original & it does take a while to get going. That head-shot murder is great though...
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