Nothing is as 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. The Midsomer Literary Festival is being held in Midsomer St. Michael and is being sponsored by Sam Callaghan's publishing company. Each year a prize of £20,000 goes to the most worthy unpublished author. A writer is found dead at the bottom of his stairs. The dead man was depressed after an unsuccessful novel for which he blamed the publisher, Callaghan. The detectives investigate and discover the writer's neck has been expertly broken, also that another writer short-listed for this year's prize is a former member of the SAS and local troublemaker.