THE AXEMAN COMETH
Barnaby is impressed when blues guitarist Jack 'Axeman' McKinley rolls into Causton with his waiflike daughter Willow for a reunion of the band Hired Gun. Drummer Nicky Harding and alcoholic diva Mimi Clifton join him to play at the Midsomer Rocks Festival. The band is staying at the country pad of lead singer Gary Cooper - Badgers Hall.
The band is missing one member - Ginger Foxton, who disappeared 30 years ago after driving his car into a quarry. When Gary finds a dead sheep, a disembowelled pig and then a skinned rabbit, he becomes paranoid that someone is trying to stop the reunion and won't be consoled by his butler Hobson and PA Serena.
Gary's neighbours, Desmond Harcourt and his younger wife Finola, are angry that he wants to end the lease of their cottage, especially as they originally owned the manor house. Finola offers to give Gary elocution lessons - and sleep with him - if he'll let them stay on.
Barnaby is surprised to see another old face in town - DI Owen Jenkins, who headed the inquiry into Ginger's disappearance. But when Barnaby talks to Axeman, his hero humiliates him. Cully meets Hired Gun's manager, Simon Dixon, and the attraction is instant. But as the festival opens, tragedy strikes as Mimi drops dead on stage.
Barnaby suspects foul play when he finds a hole drilled in the stage. Could Mimi have been electrocuted by a live wire? Gary believes the killer meant to get him and tells Barnaby he is sure it's Ginger, back again.
Axeman apologies to Barnaby when he realises he is a detective and they have a quick jam session on the guitar. Then Axeman's motorbike bursts into flames after someone punctures the carburettor.
Jones discovers Gary has been borrowing money from a songwriting royalties fund set up for him and Ginger, while Nicky gets drunk on a night out with Axeman and Simon. While Simon meets up with Cully, Axeman puts Nicky in the limo, and goes to bed with Nicky's wife Jeannie. The next morning, the limo is in the swimming pool and Nicky is dead.
Jenkins is convinced he's solved the case from his retirement home, but could Gary be right about Ginger's involvement in the murders? Or could the band's groupies from the 60s hold the answer?
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