Could You Survive Midsomer? By Simon Brew
An interactive book that could remind you of children’s make your own adventure book, this one is definitely aimed at adults. Anyone with the vaguest knowledge of television will have heard of Midsomer Murders, now on series twenty two, which features a collection of English villages which are the scene of multiple murders, often in a single episode. All are investigated by either Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby or subsequently by his younger cousin John Barnaby; after all, the series has been going on television since 1997 so only two DCIs and an impressive list of sergeants have had their day in searching out the motives from a host of hapless villagers, who have included many British actors over several generations. Rather than another book of photographs or guide book to the area, this book is more of a puzzle or a book to get involved in. It is usable by those of us who have seen many episodes many times, or those whose knowledge of the actual television version is sketchy. I tried it several times so far, and am very pleased to have had the opportunity to discover and review this book.
The basic idea of this book is to survive as a brand new detective in the area as you work through the various options that the book presents. Everyone begins with the same basic scenario; on your first day as a detective in the Midsomer area you are sent out to discover the circumstances of the unfortunate death of Peter James Maddock whose body has been found under a pile of homemade damson jam jars. This being Midsomer, the sun shines as a Villages in Bloom competition begins. At the end of two sections which describe the setting (beautiful villages, gorgeous gardens and a whole host of suspicious characters) you are asked to make a choice as to what to do next, and you flick over the pages to find a numbered section accordingly. Some feature largely bewildering interviews with village characters, some have you investigating the scene of possibly relevant developments. Not only are you looking for clues and motives, methods and possibilities, but also avoiding dangerous situations of sudden and unusual death yourself. Do not be concerned; like the television series there is definitely dark humour in each section and sometimes actual comedy in the unlikely events.
I really enjoyed attempting to navigate my way through this book. Being a huge fan of the series I recognised many references to episodes (lethal cheese, anyone?) though it would be possible to enjoy the book without knowing anything beyond accepting the rural scene. I could even visualize certain types of actors who would take the roles. There are a few pictures to break up the text, and they are also interesting. In these days of more time at home instead of actual socializing this book would undoubtedly be in the style of murder mystery gatherings, and could definitely be appreciated repeatedly as various choices can make for a successful detection of the guilty, or a very short experience as the becoming the latest victim of the mysterious murderer. This is a very well presented hardback with clear directions and well printed directions, and even space for notes in the back. This would make a lovely treat for oneself, or a intriguing gift for a murder mystery fan.