Even though I have lived in Kansas for several decades, I don’t do well in hot weather. While it does get hot and humid in my home state of Minnesota, it isn’t normally as hot and dry there as it is here. Kansas heat zaps my energy, forcing me to stay inside with air conditioning, a glass of iced tea and either a book, movie or British crime drama. I can’t function properly without any of these energy-recharging devices.
I have always been a fan of British crime dramas. I find the plots to be more complex and intriguing and they are usually less bloody than their American counterparts. “Midsomer Murders” is one of my favorites. The Library owns most seasons of this show, which started in 1998 and continues today. The books by Caroline Graham, on which the series is based, are also available in the NExpress catalog. Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby, of Causton CID, and his succession of trusty Detective Sergeants solve an unusually large number of murders in the small towns of Midsomer County. There have been so many murders over the years that realistically, there shouldn’t be many people left living in Causton, Badger's Drift, Midsomer Magna, Midsomer Malham, Finchmere, Bow Clayton, Morton Fendle, Monk's Barton, Luxton Deeping and the other uniquely-named locations. Each episode has an interesting cast of characters and beautiful views of the English countryside. There is always some humor, plus a town celebration or festival and a manor house involved as well.
Another series that helps me forget about the heat is “Inspector Morse.” This show also has two spin-offs, “Inspector Lewis” and the pre-quel, “Endeavor.” Morse and Lewis are detectives who encounter complex murders in the highly educated community where Oxford University is located. The “Endeavor” series traces Morse’s early years as a detective in the 1960s. The Library has most of these in the collection, as well as the books by Colin Dexter that inspired the shows.
I recently stumbled upon “Agatha Raisin,” a newer British series. A big city public relations executive, Agatha gives up her posh London lifestyle for a simpler life in the Cotswolds. She becomes an amateur sleuth to fill her time when she gets bored with small town life. I have been to the Cotswolds; it is quaint, lush and beautiful-a far cry from our hot and dry Kansas. Agatha and the interesting characters she meets are full of humor and quirky behavior. While the Library doesn’t have the DVD series yet, we do have the original books by M.C. Beaton.
As we prepare for yet another round of hot weather, I am looking forward to spending more time with my British mystery-solving friends. Don’t expect to see me until October when the weather turns cooler.