The disappearance of a Punch and Judy man and the discovery of a severed hand in Strangler's Wood spark off a new murder enquiry for DCI Tom Barnaby. Despite an early arrest, Barnaby believes Gregory Chambers' killing is far from simple - especially when it is followed by more bizarre deaths.
When Gregory Chambers fails to attend the funeral of his hotelier boss, the villagers of Midsomer Magna are alarmed - all the more so because he also missed a promised performance of his Punch and Judy show.
Gregory's glamorous wife Suzanna seems unconcerned, but the residents begin a search of Strangler's Wood, where the missing man regularly foraged for wild mushrooms.
A severed hand is found, leading Barnaby and Troy to begin a murder enquiry, although there is no sign of the rest of the body.
Gregory was due to inherit a share of Easterly Grange hotel and his wife had been having an affair with its chef Tristan Goodfellow. But Suzanna was not the only one being unfaithful and Gregory's pregnant lover Annie is arrested near a pile of Gregory's burning clothes.
Barnaby is unconvinced, however, that it is a simple crime of passion and wonders if the puppet show, now taken over by young Clarice Opperman and her aunt Evelyn Pope can provide any clues. Then a series of deaths and bizarre accidents strike the villagers.
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