Nothing is what it seems behind the well-trimmed hedges of the picturesque cottages in the idyllic English county of Midsomer. Beneath the tranquil surface of sleepy village life, exist dark secrets, scandals and downright evil. John Nettles stars as the humorous, thoughtful and methodical Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby. When a portrait of Jonathan Lowrie, a wealthy royalist who was killed by a Roundhead musketeer, is slashed at the Aspern Tallow museum, Barnaby and Sergeant Troy are called in to investigate. A strange series of events follows the act of vandalism. The local art restorer is convinced that the picture resembles her recently departed husband, the church bells start ringing out in the middle of the night, a packing case in the museum catches fire whilst the two detectives look on and the body of Marcus Lowrie, a distant relative of the man in the portrait, is found beaten to death in his ancestor's grave.