Death in Disguise is the third in the Inspector Barnaby series written by Caroline Graham. I was motivated to re-read this book after I found this lovely paperback edition at the September book sale. I first read it back in 2002, and fortunately did not remember a thing about the story.
The Manor House of Compton Dando has been taken over by a commune called The Lodge of the Golden Windhorse. The residents of this small commune all have different reasons for joining this group of mystics and come from very diverse backgrounds. They offer seminars and classes in New Age mysticism and crafts to support their group. When not one but two of the group's leaders dies within a few months of each other, Inspector Barnaby and Sergeant Troy of Causton CID investigate. The second death is clearly murder, but was the first?
As Inspector Barnaby investigates, he loses patience with the residents of the commune. The residents vary in their devotion to eccentric belief systems, and some just can't communicate without spouting their beliefs. Some of them are sincere and some are not, and it is hard to tell which. Later he comes to regret that he did not take them more seriously and listen to Sergeant Troy's suggestions and suspicions. I like this humanizing of an otherwise close to perfect inspector.
Some reviewers complained that the story takes a while to get going, with too much exposition preceding the murder and the investigation. Inspector Barnaby doesn't show up until about a third of the way into the book. I like stories structured like this, setting up the characters and the issues and relationships, so it was definitely my cup of tea.
I also watched the TV adaptation of this book. We have watched all of the episodes with John Nettles, and are going back and re-watching the earlier episodes, so this was perfect timing. In the TV episode some of the relationships are switched around, probably to fit the story into a 90-minute episode.
One thing I had forgotten about the books was that Sergeant Troy was a much more self-absorbed and chauvinistic person than in the TV series. In the early shows that are adaptations of novels his aversion and insensitivity to homosexual relationships is obvious, but in later TV episodes he mellows. In the books, Troy is married and he doesn't treat his wife too well. He is, however, an adoring father.
I reviewed the second book in the series, Death of a Hollow Man, in September. My review is here.
Publisher: Avon, 1994. Orig. pub. 1993.
Length: 368 pages
Series: Chief Inspector Barnaby, #3
Genre: Police Procedural
Source: I purchased my copy.