Sin [2003/I]

Midsomer Murders: Set Seven includes four intriguing episodes from season seven of the long-running, British mystery series, based on a series of books by Caroline Graham. Fans of Midsomer Murders will certainly take note of a big change in the crime drama, as Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby (John Nettles) of the Causton C.I.D. loses his longtime junior partner, Detective Sergeant Gavin Troy (Daniel Casey) to the latter's promotion and relocation. Still, Troy is around for "The Green Man," Barnaby's attempt to crack a case of multiple murders in quaint Midsomer, a supposedly quiet English village in which passions flair and blood flows with astonishing regularity. "The Green Man" concerns a pair of overlapping investigations with an environmental theme. When an effort to restore a stream uncovers the remains of several people who died in a long-ago, tunnel cave-in, Barnaby discovers that one of the apparent victims was actually placed on the site much later. Meanwhile, adolescent hoodlums harassing an indigent woodsman are turning up dead. "Bad Tidings" introduces Barnaby's new partner, Detective Sergeant Dan Scott (John Hopkins), unhappy about his transfer from London and reluctant to settle in. But he pulls his weight assisting Barnaby on a strange case that begins with the murder of a woman walking home from a flamenco-themed party at the Midsomer Mallow village hall. (A recurring theme in Midsomer Murders of hatred and deception running rampant among trustees of Midsomer's social and cultural life plays a big part here.) "The Fisher King" resurrects an old, unsolved mystery concerning the death of a man who excavated ancient artifacts, while Barnaby and Scott also try to find out who killed an arrogant millionaire with a wound similar to the one suffered by the titular, Arthurian figure. Finally, "Sins of Commission" is a wild episode peeling back secrecy surrounding sexual and fiduciary scandals surrounding a literary festival. Adding both to the drama and fun is the way Barnaby's wife (Jane Wymark) and daughter (Laura Howard) have a way of getting involved with every investigation. With a likable, low-key hero and creative new forms of Midsomer malice, Set Seven is a winner. --Tom Keogh

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