Midsomer Murders (1997– )
7 user

The Black Book 

The sale of a previously unknown painting by an 18th century painter sends Barnaby into an investigation of murders as well as art forgery.


Peter Smith


Nicholas Martin (screenplay), Caroline Graham (characters)


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
John Nettles ... DCI Tom Barnaby
Jason Hughes ... DS Ben Jones
Jane Wymark ... Joyce Barnaby
Barry Jackson ... Dr Bullard
Kirsty Dillon ... WPC Gail Stephens
Ann Firbank ... Felicity Law
David Bamber ... Anthony Prideaux
Susannah Harker ... Matilda Simms
Paul Anderson ... Graham Spate
Christopher Fulford ... Alan Best
Sarah Badel Sarah Badel ... Patricia Blackshaw
Paul Ridley Paul Ridley ... Neville Blackshaw
Gavan O'Herlihy ... George Arlington
Charlotte Asprey ... Christine Miller
Paula Jennings Paula Jennings ... Yvonne Best


An elderly woman discovers an old painting in her house. It turns out to be a previously unknown painting by Hogson, a famous 18th century painter. It's sold at an auction for 400 000 pounds to a collector. The same night, the woman who found it is found murdered in her home. As more and more bodies turn up, Barnaby uncovers an art forging business among Midsomer's art society. Written by J. Rieper

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery


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Parents Guide:

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Release Date:

5 August 2009 (UK) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Bentley Productions See more »
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Technical Specs



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Did You Know?


David Bamber (Anthony Prideaux) and Susannah Harker (Matilda Simms) appeared together in 'Pride and Prejudice', the 1995 television mini-series, as Mr. Collins and Jane Bennett, respectively. See more »


After Barnaby discovers that Neville Blackshaw does not have the two million pounds, DS Jones refers to Patricia Blackshaw as "the old woman at desk three." But the black book was left on desk three, and Patricia was clearly seated at desk four. See more »


[first lines]
Anthony Prideaux: Can I help you, madam?
Felicity Law: Oh, yes; hello. I'm so sorry to bother you, but I was just clearing out my loft when I found this.
[unwrapping a painting]
Felicity Law: I don't know how it got there, but it's rather nice.
Anthony Prideaux: I don't generally look at paintings found in people's lofts, madam. There are several house clearance firms locally if you'd like to try there.
Felicity Law: Yes, I know. I'm so sorry, but it is rather nice. I've got no space on my walls, but I thought someone might like it.
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Midsomer Murders
(Theme Song)
Written by Jim Parker
Performed by Celia Sheen
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User Reviews

'Midsomer Murders', art and forgery
15 February 2017 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

As has been said by me a number of times, 'Midsomer Murders' is one of my most watched and most re-watched shows. It is nowhere near as good now and the Tom Barnaby-era wasn't alien to average or less episodes, but when it was on form or at its best boy was it good.

Season 12 got off to a decent start with "The Dogleg Murders", and this promising standard continues with "The Black Book". "The Black Book" is not a 'Midsomer Murders' classic like ("The Killings at Badgers Drift", "Written in Blood", "Death's Shadow", "Dead Man's Eleven", "Judgement Day", "Ring Out Your Dead", "The Green Man", "Hidden Depths" and "The House in the Woods". It's also not one of the worst like "Second Sight", "Shot at Dawn", "The Electric Vendetta", "Blood on the Saddle" and "Night of the Stag" (remember disliking "Incident at Cooper's Hill" too).

"The Black Book" does suffer somewhat from too much padding, enough of it drawn out enough to make some of the pacing drag badly, and while most of the exposition is revealing and interesting not all of it is necessary. The killer's motives are agreed rather mundane, the motives for some episodes did become quite toned down in later seasons, and will probably the first person to feel that the killer's identity was not that much of a surprise due to a couple of foreshadowing moments (like at the auction).

However, the production values as always are just great, the idyllic look of it contrasting very well with the story's grimness, and quaint and atmospheric photography. The music fits perfectly, with some lush jauntiness and sometimes an ominous quality, and the theme tune one of the most memorable and instantly recognisable of the genre.

There are some thoughtful and humorous moments in the script, which is generally well structured and crafted with a great balance of humour and drama. The supporting characters are pretty good. The story has enough twists and turns, that keep coming even at the end, to make it absorbing. The intricacy of the atmosphere was nice on the most part and things don't get too confused thankfully.

John Nettles and Jason Hughes are both superb, individually and together (their chemistry, and the chemistry with Daniel Casey and John Hopkins before Hughes, being a huge part of their episodes' charm). Can't fault the supporting cast either, particularly Susannah Harker.

Overall, another decent episode to Season 12. 7/10 Bethany Cox

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